If you have been aware of the social climate in the last few months, you know that the world has been awakened with trailblazers crusading for justice and equality. However, it is not just now that this call for diversity and representation has been made in the Reborn Doll community. This topic has been on the table for discussion for quite some time. As a whole, sculptors, artists and doll casters have worked together to make change in the offerings of doll sculpts with varying ethnic features…not just the usual depiction of white/caucasian infants. Nevertheless, it has a long way to go. When it comes to the diversity of and representation in able bodied infants/toddlers, or those with skin conditions that make them stand out, the offerings are lacking drastically. Soon, I will be discussing this topic on my YouTube channel, but for now I will talk about it here on the blog.
Why is there no representation?
It goes without saying, that special needs children and infants born with skin conditions, are loved no less than those babies born with no genetic abnormalities. These children are cared for and treated the same despite the challenges their parents may face in caring for them. If that is the case, then why are children such as these, shunned or frowned upon when represented in the reborn doll community?
The general tone towards a reborn baby depicted with Downs Syndrome or an infant with a cleft lip, is not the same as a doll crafted to look like a baby who does not possess these conditions. Why? All children are born perfect…in their own way. Yes, it is true when it comes to collecting dolls you have a choice, but in childbirth you don’t in terms of babies being born with medical ailments. However, it’s still important for these children to be represented…as they do exist.
My reborn baby Mila, depicted with Infantile Hemangioma or ‘strawberry birthmarks’. She was lovingly crafted by Valerie’s Originals.
Adopting a reborn baby with depicted medical conditions
It is no secret that I greatly admire uniqueness in dolls. I am proud to see Barbie branching out into so many amazingly diverse directions with their dolls..from dolls with Vitiligo to ones with prosthetic limbs. I don’t see this as a money grab, but a way to reach an audience that, for a long time, was not thought of when it came to seeing girls represented around the world. I take this same sentiment into the Reborn Doll hobby.
I adopted my first reborn baby with a skin condition, Tehya, back in March 2016. I had this reborn doll custom made to represent a 9 month old with a Nevus Flemmeus, or Port Wine Stain birthmark, on her forehead. For awhile I got many remarks about her; a lot of them rude. Is this how the general public see’s children with skin ailments or special needs? They should be ashamed!
Since then, I have seen many artists begin to reborn babies in the likeness of children with special skin conditions. Vitiligo, albinism, freckles/moles just to name a few. The biggest (and best) changes I have seen was the debut of reborn sculpts depicting babies with Downs Syndrome and Dwarfism. Here are the sculpts and their artists:
- Pebbles by Lilanne Breedveld (LE 1,000)
- Vince by Lilanne Breedveld (LE 1,000)
- Stanley Oliver by Vincenzina Care (Edition TBD)
- Nino by Vincenzina Care (Edition TBD)
Diverse Dolls in The Reborn Community
I am certain there other collectors out there who hold a special place in their heart for reborn dolls such as the ones mentioned above. Two lovely collectors online that I know of share in the same sentiments as I do Ashely of BabyLoveHeartSmith (Instagram @babyloveheartsmith) and Lynn of My Bella Blessing (Instagram ) @mybellablessing on Instagram. With their permission, I am showcase their beautiful art dolls on my blog and page in conjunction with this chat topic. Thank you for sharing your gorgeous dolls Wren and __with me.
Wren // Stanley Oliver by Vincenzina Care
Reborn baby Wren is the Stanley Oliver sculpt, created by the talented artist Vencenzina Care of Chenza Dolls. She was painted by reborn doll artist Tamara O’Connor of Kendra’s Garden Babies. Wren was also painted using Baby FX Air Dry acrylic paints.
Mialynn // Modified sculpt by Sandra Stanley
Reborn baby Mialynn was reborn and modified by the amazing artist Sandra Stanley of A Button Nose And Ten Tiny Toes nursery.
This Reborn Art is a portrait of my Granddaughter who was born with unilateral cleft lip and cleft palate. Which are birth defects that occur when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. Together, these birth defects Heres a few facts from CDC.GOV
What is Cleft Palate? The roof of the mouth (palate) is formed between the sixth and ninth weeks of pregnancy. A cleft palate happens if the tissue that makes up the roof of the mouth does not join together completely during pregnancy. For some babies, both the front and back parts of the palate are open. For other babies, only part of the palate is open. Other Problems Children with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate or a cleft palate alone often have problems with feeding and speaking clearly and can have ear infections. They also might have hearing problems and problems with their teeth.
How Many Babies are Born with Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate? About 1 in every 1,600 babies is born with cleft lip with cleft palate in the United States. About 1 in every 2,800 babies is born with cleft lip without cleft palate in the United States. About 1 in every 1,700 babies is born with cleft palate in the United States
– My Bella Blessing
Overall, I am happy to see a more diverse offering of reborn doll sculpts in the community. Ultimately, it is personal preference for each doll collector on wether they want to add these sculpts to their collection (of course!), but on a sculptor and manufacturing level I am glad to see them break out on the market.