I have 3 children and another on the way but they’re not real – trolls say I should be sectioned but they make me happy | The Sun

I have 3 children and another on the way but they’re not real – trolls say I should be sectioned but they make me happy | The Sun

November 28, 2022

A WOMAN has been trolled online thanks to her hobby of collecting lifelike ‘reborn’ baby dolls – which she has spent thousands of pounds on.

Raya, 22, a childcare worker from London, lives with three "babies" Bellamy, Ottilie and Brynn, with a fourth doll on the way.

In February, she bought her first reborn doll, Bellamy, who was sculpted in Germany and "brought to life" by an artist within the UK – and since then, she's been hooked by the ultra-realistic creations.

She recalls being "obsessed" with caring for dolls as a child, where she would often ask for the latest models as presents.

It has now become an avid hobby, with the young woman also using them to photograph clothes and accessories for her small businesses.

Unlike many people who purchase reborn dolls to cope with the loss of a child, Raya collects them as pieces of art and likes to show off the incredibly realistic collection on TikTok and her routine of caring for them – where her videos have racked up over 400,000 views.

In the clips – where Raya chooses not to show her face – she shares “morning routines” with the babies, including feeding, changing and taking them out in a car seat – which she says she does for entertainment purposes.

But while she has received some support for her unconventional roommates, not everyone has been quite so open minded.

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Raya claims she has received harsh criticism for being blamed for "wasting" essential baby supplies, been told she should be “sectioned”, and even received death threats.

"I've had comments such as 'you need to be sectioned' or 'this is f***ed' up' left on my videos and even people telling me to 'jump off a cliff'," Raya told NeedToKnow.online.

"I think people are very quick to judge something and someone they know nothing about.

"This hobby isn't as common as others, so we're always targeted for being different.

"The reborn community also gets a lot of hate for 'wasting' real baby products, but this isn't the case for [most] of us.

"We constantly reuse and never throw anything away.

"All the baby products I've collected over time will also be saved for my real child in the future and even if I didn't have the reborns, I'd still buy all the cute baby outfits as it's something I adore.

People are very quick to judge something and someone they know nothing about.

"I do try not to let the hate get to me, because at the end of the day, they aren't important and are just something I enjoy.

"Outside of TikTok the dolls are displayed, not touched, and not played with – they're a special collection."

For the part-time volunteer, she claims to have spent a "small fortune" on her collection and while she doesn't wish to disclose the total amount, the most expensive dolls can cost up to £5,000.

She said: "I only have a couple of bottles and dummies for prop purposes, so I haven't bought too much at all – but I like to buy the more expensive styles of baby clothing.

"I love the neutral styles and there is always a lot of stock in the sizes I need. I do love high street shops, but there is much less stock due to the affordable prices.

"I have spent thousands on baby clothes, however there are people in the community who have way more than me as they have been collecting for longer.

"Reborn dolls have a huge price range, the more realistic they are, the more expensive they are.

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"Out of my three, Brynn was the most expensive as she's a long sold-out limited-edition kit.

"My parents have always known about my interest in dolls, so it was no surprise to them when I wanted to purchase them.

"My mum is always helping me pick out the cutest outfits when we're put shopping and also helps hold the babies in pose when needed.

"My dad says it's freaky how real they are and he can't believe the work which goes into them, but he still supports my hobby.

"Both of my nans adore them and love when I bring them round, as they jump at the chance of a baby cuddle.

"I've never been someone to have lots of friends, but the small circle I do have always support me and follow me on social media – they also ask for photos of them in their latest outfits."

The reborn community also gets a lot of hate for 'wasting' real baby products, but this isn't the case for [most] of us

In her most popular video, detailing baby Brynn’s morning routine, she shows the doll ‘waking up’, before feeding and clothing her, and taking the baby out in her pram.

Users flocked to the comments to share their reactions, with many believing the baby was real and others, who couldn't believe their eyes.

One person said: "Genuinely curious why'd do you do this?"

Someone else commented: "What is baby not real??!"

One user said: "I thought it was real."

Another fan commented: "WHERE CAN I GET ONE IM OBSSESSED." [sic]

"What a lovely baby, just beautiful," said someone else.

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Raya said: "I also find a lot of positivity online, as I'm able to talk to so many likeminded people and I don't think people realise how big the community is. It's worldwide and full of amazing collectors, artists and sculptors.

"I don't often get stopped [in public] because people assume they're real. After I tell people they're dolls, they seem amazed."

Now, she hopes to raise awareness for the time and effort which are put into reborn dolls – especially as many mistake them for toys.

She added: "Reborns are definitely not toys, as they are artwork and are very delicate, as well as fragile.

"In order to make them feel like a real baby, they are weighted with glass which isn't sure inside and this is only contained with one thin piece of fabric.

"I wouldn't let any child go near them.

"A lot of people don't know how much work is put into making them and I wish they'd appreciate this more – they're often called 'therapy' dolls too, which does take the artistic side away.

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"Each baby can take months to paint and someone artists will then go on to hand root hair onto them, it's so interesting.

"It's incredible how many steps go into creating a lifelike baby.”

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