• Italiano

Faces of infants seem to observe us behind beautiful blue eyes. A sulky face could be the prelude to weeping. The relaxed features and the eyelids lowered invite us not to make noise so as not to wake up the sleeping baby. But, after a more careful look, we realize that what we are seeing is not real. It is rubber skilfully assembled to the smallest detail.

The Phenomenon

The tenderness give space to wonder and then to bewilderment. Especially when we realize the unnatural care with which the doll is treated. It is the phenomenon of “Reborn dolls“, born in the United States and arrived in Italy for some time now. Once again, the umpteenth collective madness has been widespread by the web. In the USA, the videos circulating on YouTube with these dolls resembling in whole to real infants as protagonists are over 400 thousand. In our country, instead, on Facebook there are dedicated secret groups and fan pages in which the self-proclaimed mothers exchange tips on how to take care of their plastic children.

What they are

The first “Reborn” appeared in the American market at the end of the nineties. They were artisanal works, made of vinyl, and reserved for collectors. Nothing to do with the various toys for the children. The “reborn dolls” are works of art, crafted to the smallest detail, with hyper-realistic expressions and natural poses. In recent years also women (young and over) become enthusiast about these dolls, making these imitations a surrogate of a new-born baby. And here it is necessary to make an appropriate distinction. On the one hand, in fact, there are people with serious psychological disorders, due to the loss of a child or to the impossibility of having one. The doll, in this case, fills an affective deficiency or an emotional void. It is a way to overcome the pain and as such it deserves respect. On the other hand, however, there are many women who, although they have the possibility to become mothers, the do not want to and they rely on “reborn” only for fashion, with the objective, perhaps, to socialize with other girls or women traveling on the same wavelength.

Like real children

The meeting point of the latter are, as we were saying, secret fan pages and social groups, as “My special baby“, targeted by the satirical Fb page “Il signor distruggere ” created by the blogger Vincenzo Maisto, the first person that spoke about the phenomenon of the “reborn” in Italy. The post written by supposed mothers are frankly unbelievable. Two users, for example, complain about the lack of understanding shown by their partner that once back home after a dinner, were shocked to see a doll gently nestled inside a cradle and treated like a child, and have interrupted every contact with them. Both argue saying that they justified themselves with the respective possible boyfriends telling them that they do not want to have children. The comments of the other “mothers” are all supportive. Some advise them to gradually introduce the “special children” to the partners, others invite the two unfortunates to look for a partner within the community dedicated to “reborn dolls”, in which sometimes even some men sign up. “Not all of them have the sensitivity to understand certain things” comments instead another indignant user.

The twilight zone

The delirium, however, does not remain relegated only in the private sphere. The mothers of Reborn dolls, increasingly want to show their status out of their home and they exchange advice with the most skilled ones to make the fiction even more realistic. Armies of “mothers” with strollers or baby carriages walk along the streets or in the parks showing themselves busy with their babies. Some show themselves busy with baby food and teaspoon, some put Nutella in the diaper to simulate a poo. Some go to the doctor and talk, proud, about the compliments received from other patients for having have a little girl so silent. Then there are those who decide to involve unaware strangers in their mania. It is the case for example of a baby sitter who has been called to supervise the puppet that, interviewed later by Maisto, has confided that she was shocked after discovering the truth. “The Lady – she told – let me enter and she also told me to speak in a low voice because the girl was asleep“.


The explosion of the phenomenon has led many producers to devote themselves to the manufacturing of “Reborn”, sold online at a price that can vary between 500 and 20,000 euro per piece. The cost depends of course on the care of the details. Some dolls, for example, have real hair. Others have magnets between lips so as to facilitate the insertion of pacifiers and bottles. On YouTube, then, there are trials in which bloggers explain how to create the dolls and how to “grow them up”.

What the experts say

Some psychologists start to talk about the mania of “Reborn Dolls”. They invite people to be careful. Becoming attached to an object is not in itself an indication of a mental disorder (how many of us are still attached to the stuffy with which they slept when they were babies?). But it is important to maintain a contact with reality, so as to avoid dangerous degenerations and alienations. All this, should not be confused with the “Doll Therapy”, a medical approach that aims to create a feeling of well-being in relationship with a doll, especially in the people suffering from Alzheimer disease or senile dementias.

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