Shopping for my “daughter”

We’ve all shopped for our dolls. And, when we do, it’s usually no mystery to anyone who the dresses, skirts, pants, hats, and jewelry we purchase are for. No one I know would fit into the gown I just purchased for my Tyler Wentworth doll, since no one I know is 16 inches tall. Likewise, the retailers and fellow collectors we purchase from know we are buying for dolls. They are selling for dolls. Duh.

Except when your doll is three feet tall.

I used to collect the dolls created by German artist Annette Himstedt. I say “used to” because I purchased my last Himstedt doll in 2009, when Annette’s factory fell victim to the recession and she ceased production. Over the years, I amassed 15 of her dolls. There are still many available on the secondary market I’d love to have, but lack of space and a limited dolly budget have prevented me from adding to my collection in recent years. Which is fine, really. My doll room looks like it doubles as a preschool classroom as it is.

My space-saving way of displaying some of my Himstedt dolls. They’re the tall ones almost touching the ceiling.

For those unfamiliar with Annette’s work, she creates incredibly lifelike representations of young children. And they are huge, typically ranging in size from two to three feet. As such, store-bought children’s clothing fit them quite well. Retail stores offer an endless variety of toddler clothing, and it can be very inexpensive. Much cheaper than the custom-made Himstedt clothing you’ll find on eBay and Etsy.

It has been at least five years since I redressed one of my Hinstedts, but I recently took several of them out of storage (I don’t have enough space to accommodate displaying them all at once), and my interest in them was revived. Since I had to go to Target this weekend for some household items, I made a stop in the children’s clothing section, and I selected some cute pink spring outfits. This was especially fun for me, since I have no daughters–my four-year-old son is my only child. And I’ve come to learn that boy’s clothing is boring as hell. Being able to pick out pink dresses and frilly tops with butterflies on them was a nice change.

When I went to pay for my items, the cashier lingered over the pink dress I selected. “This is so cute,” she said. “How old is your daughter?”

I was daydreaming about redressing my dolls when she spoke to me–I had barely noticed her at all. So I had no idea what she was talking about.

“My daughter?’ I asked.

“Uh, yeah,” she said.

“I don’t have a daughter,” I told her. “I have a son.”


Oh. I finally got it. She thinks the dress and frilly clothes are for my daughter. I laughed.

“Oh, no,” I said, “Those are for my dolls.”

Silence again. She quickly checked me out without another word.

And thus I think I did my part last weekend at Target to confirm the widespread belief that doll collectors are creepy people who have make-believe conversations with their vinyl friends when no one is looking.

I know I do.

Arinda in her new Target dress
Arinda in her new Target dress