'I can't stop thinking about the time an influencer family sold a doll version of their own baby.'

When it comes to the types of merch influencers are willing to shill to their adoring fans, the realm of possibilities knows no bounds. 

If we're looking at the back-catalogue of bizarre products that have been promoted by influencers Gwyneth Paltrow's vagina-scented candle, the Kardashian Kredit Kards and Jessica Simpson's range of edible cosmetics are certainly up there with the kookiest ways to make a quick buck.

But there is one particular family of influencers who trumped everyone with their truly unique offering... and we need to talk about it. 

Back in 2019, the Ingham family - who boast 1.3 million subscribers on their channel thanks to their wholesome vlogs depicting practically every event that has ever happened in their children's lives - found themselves in the middle of a controversy. Sarah and her husband Chris Ingham announced they were selling hyper-realistic reborn dolls that looked just like their newborn baby, Jace. 

Watch: Parenting 101. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

"This was made to represent Jace when he was two weeks old, similar to the age in the photo that you will receive on the birth certificate if you buy one of these beautiful baby Jace dolls," Sarah said in a vlog at the time. 

"It's so like him … it's like exactly the same." 


Umm... what the what? 

And ever since going down this rabbit hole, I can't stop thinking about it day and night.

Who is the Ingham family?

The Inghams, who are based in the UK, have become one of the most popular creator families on YouTube since they began their daily vlogs on the platform in 2016. 

Chris and Sarah now have six children - Isabelle, 18, Esme 14, Isla, 11, Jace, four, Mila, two and Aurora, three months.

Their daily vlogs cover everything from holiday adventures to c-section delivery storytime and a 'scary Costa Coffee incident'. It's the sort of mundane content that YouTube viewers lap up and it has made The Inghams very successful. 


The Jace baby doll incident.

So, the Inghams were slinging fairly innocuous content until they made waves when they announced they'd teamed up with UK toy designer Mary Shortle to sell a look-alike reborn doll. 

"The realistically adorable features allow you to have your own little Jace!" the company's website said.

For around $500AUD, you could own your very own limited edition reborn doll that was modelled on their then-newborn infant son, Jace. 

And, of course, the internet had something to say about it.


"That's weird. Like real weird," wrote one X user. 

"That's unsettling," wrote another.

From there, the fever dream took on dizzying new heights. 

For an additional fee, you could purchase accessories and outfits for your Jace reborn doll. 

And if that wasn't enough, the Inghams also invited customers to come to one of their exclusive "Baby Jace Tea Parties" where you could meet the whole family along with your baby Jace reborn doll. I shudder.

Despite the backlash from the online world, Chris Ingham defended his decision to sell a look-alike of his son for the public to purchase.

"Unfortunately we live in a world where people thrive on negativity so tend to only focus on that," he told Buzzfeed News

"Completely disregard all the positivity and overwhelming support in favour of the gossip and 'drama' side of life instead. Which is very sad."


So, is the Jace doll really that problematic?

Personal feelings about how creepy I find the idea of buying a hyper-realistic doll based on someone else's child aside, when you break it down - how problematic is this?

Firstly, we have to acknowledge this reborn doll movement and what it actually means to those who have found great comfort in this trend. For families who have suffered miscarriages, infant loss or those who long to have children, reborn dolls can offer therapeutic benefits while dealing with trauma and pain.

The often misunderstood world of reborns also provides comfort and support to those suffering from dementia. Studies have shown that dementia patients who interact with these lifelike dolls decreased anxiety and improved overall mood.

However, in the case of the Ingham family, it's hard to reconcile that this child's likeness has been syndicated for strangers to purchase. 

Many aired concerns that when Jace comes of age, he might take issue with the fact his identity was turned into a commodity without his permission. 

Thankfully, the Jace doll was a limited edition release, and the family decided against doing the same with their next child. 

Feature Image: Instagram/Sarah Ingham/Mary Shortle. 

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