Baby boom

Didier Bizet


Having appeared in the United States in the 1990s, reborn is a doll that looks like a real newborn. With an extreme realism and dedicated to different uses, some of which are at the very least contested, reborn suffer from a bad reputation and are regularly pointed out as reborn artists (about 20 000 in the world) strive to create a hyper-realistic texture with details such as birthmarks, blood network, hair, pores, tears, saliva, etc. The use and destination of these dolls are grouped into several main categories: reborn artists, collectors, hospitals and finally adoptive fathers and mothers. Since the 1990s, the reborn world has continued to grow, and between the first baby reborn sold on Ebay in 2002 and today, there are more than 41 million «reborn doll» results on Google. The realism of the reborn is so amazing that the medical centers for dependant seniors do not hesitate to use it to relieve the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and pediatric hospital units to use it for educational purposes. So, how can we not wonder about the weight of this society that arouses the need to conceive life in a snap of the fingers, or rather with plastic, acrylic paint and goat hair? What motivates a woman, a couple, to adopt - and not buy the word is taboo - a baby that looks like her, to love her like her own flesh, to walk her in a stroller, to dress her and build her a room? With a growing popularity all over the world (from the United States to Russia, China, Canada, Australia, Europe, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, etc.), the reborn, despite its negative media image, appears for many as a remedy for their loneliness, for their difficulty to communicate other than via social networks and replaces, in some cases, traditional treatments. For, if for some they look like «dead babies», for others they are synonymous with hope, well-being, and comfort. Fake babies, then, but they bring true happiness, love, and sharing.

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  • Hundreds of visitors flock to the Doll Show in Valencia, Spain. This reborn dolls show is the largest in Europe. The jury of reborn artists from all over the world, adored by collectors, meets at the end of the first day of the show. On the left, Bianca Franke carefully notes the many details of «babies» such as hair implantation and painting work. Valencia April 2019.

  • Presentation of the reborn dolls at the Doll Show Valencia 2019. Women designers who compete in different categories (painting, hair implantation, fantasy and silicone) must not reveal «babies» on social networks or on their website before being presented to the jury at the exhibition. Valencia April 2019.

  • A visitor places her little girl next to a Toddler doll (an older doll) on the booth of Daniela Adelean, a well-known reborn artists Valencia April 2019.

  • On the stand of Cristina Calabuig, reborn artist. She has taken care of the staging of her creations inspired by Walt Disney like all the exhibitors at the Doll Show Valencia. Valencia April 2019.

  • Some reborn dolls are equipped with devices that mimic heartbeats, breathing, sucking or even head mobility. Rechargeable by USB, they are carefully hidden in the doll’s padding. Valencia May 2019.

  • Visitors take advantage of their visit to buy one of the many reborn kits. The choice is wide but the most popular kits are those of famous sculptors. Valencia April 2019.

  • Ruth Annette Herrington explains to visitors how to fix the paint with a suitable oven. She is a reborn artist, kit sculptor since 2003 and teaches reborning techniques to thousands of artists through tutorials on the net or in books, as well as in workshops. Valencia April 2019.

  • Alicia Jiménez and her husband Juan come to the Valencia Motor Show every year. She is a reborn artist and professional Latin flamenco dancer. In her hotel room, she takes care of her «babies» before the exhibition at the Doll Show Valencia. The gestures used to handle the reborn are the same as those used for a real baby. Valencia April 2019.

  • Azaraya, one of Alicia Jiménez’s reborns. It is a model of the famous kit designer Bonnie Braun that Alicia has redesigned. Kits are purchased at the factory or directly through some kit creators. A kit sold includes a head, a bust, legs and arms that reborn artists assemble and paint. Valencia April 2019.

  • End of the Doll Show Valencia: exhibitors pack up the «babies». Valencia April 2019.

  • In Maria Valle Escudero’s store: it is the first «physical» reborn store in Spain. «Women from Latin America make a detour to Madrid to visit my shop when they come to Europe because they can’t find anything in their country. They enter with loud cries and start crying, overwhelmed by emotion. «she said. Maria sells reborn of her own creation but also accessories such as clothes or kits. Madrid May 2019.

  • Galina Lobashova works in Moscow and lives 40 km from Moscow. Galina is an interior designer, in her spare time, she is a reborn artist and sells her dolls all over the world. Her husband had the house enlarged so that she could work in a workshop dedicated to reborn. Moscow, July 2019.

  • Galina sold a Reborn to Irina E. Professor and doctor in a hospital in Moscow. Irina teaches pediatrics classes. She is with Angelina who is in 6th year at Moscow Paediatric University. Over the past year, Angelina has learned a lot from Reborn, the only doll in the hospital. After asking the hospital director to buy a Reborn, which was refused, Irina finally decided to buy it on her own. His friends want to make a jackpot for the purchase of a second Reborn. The baby’s name is Leonid, Irina loves him and calls him «my little Leon». July 2019.

  • The attention paid to reborn by patients with Alzheimer’s disease is almost immediate. They are convinced they see real babies and do not hesitate to rock the dolls in their arms with sometimes a little surprise: «Her skin is cold. He’s cold, isn’t he?» Gisèle tells us. Mondeville May 2019.

  • Virginia poses with some of her reborn. Her mother explains that her daughter cannot afford to live in her own apartment because of her low salary. However, Virginia invests significant sums in her passion. Toledo May 2019.

  • Virginia, collector and rebounder, lives in Toledo. She is walking one of her reborn in a pram near her home. «I rarely do it, but I enjoy confronting myself with others. «she tells us. Toledo Region, May 2019.

  • Min Li was born in Hong Kong. She moved to London 17 years ago with her husband. Mother of 3 children, she started selling children’s clothing online for the Chinese market before embarking on reborning. The reborn it creates for the Chinese market, have the characteristic of being a mix between a European and Asian face. «The Chinese like children with big eyes and slightly slanted eyes,» she says. London, September 2019.

  • Samantha Gregory, standing up, came from the US to lead a reborn modeling workshop. She is very much adored in Spain. The week-long workshop brings together experienced amateurs or reborn artists who wish to start or perfect their skills in the creation of vinyl kits. A translator translates his advice into Spanish for all visitors, some of whom come from South America and Italy. Torrijos May 2019.

  • Amanda is 50 years old, English and lives in Wembley. Photographer, she has been depressed since adolescence. Her reborn, which she named A.J. (Albert Joseph’s short for Albert Joseph), has been helping her overcome her illness for the past 2 years. She takes him to her photo studio almost every day to work with him and cuddle him between shots. Amanda lives 20 minutes walk from her studio. His reborn A.J. is delicately wrapped. She takes care of it like a real baby and makes fun of the looks of passers-by during her daily journeys. A.J. has his reserved place on the left of the sofa in the living room. Amanda takes advantage of these moments with her reborn to play with him and calm down. She receives very few people at home and apologizes for the disorder consisting mainly of toys and children’s clothes. London, September 2019.

  • Amanda never falls asleep without A.J., they share the same bed. His parents and close friends finally understood his desire to reborn. She wants to have a second one but only a boy. «It will have to be love at first sight, like A.J.’s.» London, September 2019.