Dolls are to me many things. They are a hobby, an art, an obsession. They have brought me great joy and great regret. They have brought me closer to some friends and family, and further away from others. They have helped me cope with debilitating depression and grief. They have been both my solace and my demons. They have been my doorway into a unique community of very colorful and talented people. They have brought me new friends, and they have brought me great loneliness.
I believe dolls are unique in the strong emotional reactions they can provoke from people. We dress them in diapers and dresses and give them to young girls to encourage maternal tendencies. We demonize them and cast them as the lead characters in absurd horror films. We give them unrealistic and hyper-sexualized proportions and put them in the hands of prepubescent girls. We encourage their use as imaginative playthings for girls and ridicule the same in boys.
Our various reactions to dolls ultimately tell us much more about ourselves than the actual doll at hand. Women who collect dolls as a hobby are often pathologized, the subject of psychological musings about feelings of inadequate motherhood and childhood lost. Men who collect action figures–which, however you slice it, are DOLLS–are never subject to the same inquiry. At the most, such men are designated as cultural “nerds.” Female doll collectors are just silly.
As a professional writer and a doll collector, this blog will serve as my window into the doll-collecting universe for both insiders and–hopefully–outsiders alike. I intend to offer my own perspectives on the collector doll industry and the colorful personalities that comprise it. I will post photographs of my own dolls and share the work of some of the most talented people in the industry. I hope to bring to wider attention artists whose work I believe is up-and-coming, and I will offer thoughtful critical reviews of the latest products.
Since I am a collector of fashion dolls, my blog will mostly concern itself with that section of the collector market. I have collected a wide variety of dolls during my 20+ years of collecting. Like many, I started out with Barbie, and I abandoned her when her newer 16″ sisters caught my eye. But although they make up the majority of my collection, I have never limited myself to the “taller” fashion dolls. My collection includes the work of Robert Tonner, Integrity, Paul Pham, Helen Kish, Annette Himstedt, Madame Alexander, Jan McLean, and others.
So welcome to “Doll Therapy,” and please subscribe to be notified when there is a new post. I look forward to sharing my dolly journey with all of you. Happy New Year!
Below is my latest muse, Paul Pham’s “Stratus.” You can see how well she adapts to different looks and styles. Stratus is one of the loveliest dolls in my collection. The two bottom portraits are the work of the lovely Angela Nielson.