There are some women who have always wanted to be mothers.
But what happens when this isn’t possible?
What if, for whatever reason – whether through a tragic death or miscarriage, being unable to conceive or simply never finding a partner to have a child with – a woman isn’t able to fulfill her dream of being a mother?
The reality is that the torment and the frustration and the emotional turmoil of desperately wanting, trying, or losing a baby is indescribable. And that anguish has to go somewhere, be driven into something – that’s how we cope.
The fast-growing ‘reborn’ subculture shows the – admittedly extreme – possible results of that kind of emotional trauma. This movement is comprised of people (mostly women) who collect startlingly lifelike newborn baby dolls.
These dolls are painstakingly handmade by specialist Reborn doll makers – and the women who buy them, generally treat the dolls as if they were real babies.
They take them to the grocery store.
They push them in strollers.
They feed them from a bottle.
When they carry them in their arms, they don’t haphazardly tug the toy along by one limb – they cradle the doll.
Reborn dolls are a part of their families.
Rebecca Martinez, a photographer who has extensively documented the Reborn movement, spoke to the New York Times about the women who collect these dolls:
“Many of them have a very, very strong genetic makeup to nurture and they love babies, and many are mothers. A lot of people think these are people who can’t have children. Some are, but many of them have children and love the baby stage of nurturing. They can love a baby, they can nurture it in a permanent way.”
Interestingly, the majority of the women active in the subculture are white, conservative and Christian.
You can click through the gallery below to see what these Reborn dolls look like: