Sunday, August 4, 2013


Dolls are the defining objects of a little girl's childhood. They certainly were of mine. American Girl dominated my life from the ages of six to twelve although I played with a few other dolls too. Playmates, protectors, friends... Dolls were it all. They are objects that let us escape into different worlds and with different things. On one level, many little girls know that their dolls are technically real... yet, in so many ways, they are. My friend and I used to test for a heartbeat on my dolls to try to see if they were secretly "alive."

Dolls were always so great to cuddle with. I loved the simple feeling of them in my arms, someone I could pour all my love to. Baby dolls were my favorite for some reason although I didn't mind other, older dolls too. I could talk to them and, even though they couldn't talk back to me, I told myself that despite everything they were listening.

Dolls were my companion to my every adventure. I would drag them around and be like, "Woah, can you believe what just happened?" I would take them to the hill and I would let them roll around with me on the hill somehow. I even took them to school a few times (although one time, it ended in disaster as I left it behind on the playground and someone tore its head off). They followed me everywhere almost to just about every outing.

Not to mention, they always had the cutest little outfits that I could put them in. I never like clothes shopping for myself but my dolls were a different story. I would dress them up to go to church with me or parties; I would put them in pajamas to go to sleep; I would put them in their every day clothes. I just felt like I had to do this or else I would be a bad mother.

Essentially, dolls were my primary toys. Sure, I loved a good stuffed animal or electronic as much as any Millennial but dolls somehow took the cake. They were my most precious items and I just couldn't help but love them.

I loved dolls, I think, because they could be anything I wanted them to be. They could have any personality I wanted them to have. I could pour my love out to them when I had no one to pour it out to, I wouldn't have to put up with any unkind words from them and I knew that they would always love me. I knew they weren't technically real but they were more than a hunk of plastic to me.

I was fortunate enough to have a family that would play along with me (my mother would even give me parenting advice with them and talk to them). I had no mean brothers to threaten their safety.

When I finally got to the point when dolls didn't mean that to me, I couldn't help but be sad. At that point, of course, I knew my childhood was over and there was no going back. Putting them away wasn't emotionally difficult for me because at that point, I had already left them in the corners for quite a while but still.

So about four years, these dolls languished under my bed, until my one rat, Buttercup, sneaked under there during playtime. And then I remembered. Of course, as a photographer, I couldn't help but go under to take a peek and have a photo shoot with the dolls. At this point, they were merely objects to me.

Still, I couldn't help but flood back with memories of my childhood. They were artifacts of my past, after all. Because, of course, they were wrapped in so many of my memories. I almost felt a little guilty leaving them as I had under the bed.

And when I put them away, I had the oddest feeling inside. After all, how could I have so casually stowed away my childhood like I had? Those dolls mean nothing to me anymore but I couldn't help but remember how much they had.

This is a snippet of the dolls I found under my bed. Yes, I meant it to be creepy but also kind of sad.

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