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"My Fake Baby"
January 6, 2008 11:08 PM   Subscribe

"My Fake Baby" is a Channel 4 documentary exploring "the lives of women who spend hundreds of pounds on life-like baby dolls. Loved like real babies, they're taken for walks, cuddled and even have their nappies changed." Parts 2, 3, 4, 5.
posted by Avenger50 (68 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wondered what Realdolls looked like when they were little. Now I know.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:14 PM on January 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


Ok, that's pretty creepy. "not moving baby" is a bit too close to "dead baby" for my taste.
posted by Artw at 11:16 PM on January 6, 2008


EEEEUGH. DISEMBODIED BABY PARTS ON A TABLE.
posted by katillathehun at 11:26 PM on January 6, 2008


Making them as art pieces is interesting.

Carrying them around as though they're real? That's. Yeah. Creepy.
posted by cmyk at 11:26 PM on January 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Channel 4 seems to run the most interesting variety of programs...there just doesn't seem to be a U.S. equivalent. (Over in the domestic violence thread someone linked to "How to Look Good Naked," another Chan 4 production.)

As for the dolls? Creepy.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:30 PM on January 6, 2008


How much of the baby doll's engineering overlaps with that of Real Dolls?
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:30 PM on January 6, 2008


Baby cult must be stopped. Stop the baby cult!
posted by vrakatar at 11:31 PM on January 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Haven't seen the documentary, but I came across these when working on a tangentially related project. There's a thriving OOAK reborn market on eBay, and some of the artists that paint them are, to my mind, incredibly talented. They share a lot of techniques with other miniature hobbies (lead figures, trains, dolls houses, etc). I hope it's only a minority of the buyers that go for the full RealDoll experience, but OTOH most of those auctions seem to have buyer privacy enabled.

It's the ones that are sculpted with eyes closed that bother me the most - like a child that will never wake up.
posted by Leon at 11:36 PM on January 6, 2008


Right, so that link to #2 is broken. It should go here instead.
posted by barnacles at 11:40 PM on January 6, 2008


Mark my words. Someday soon, I am going to bring programming like this to American terrestrial television so Americans can finally know how truly strange the British people are.
posted by parmanparman at 11:46 PM on January 6, 2008


What's creepiest is they're uncircumcised.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:01 AM on January 7, 2008


Babies. What's the deal?
posted by ooga_booga at 12:02 AM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I used to say "x people creep the shit out of me", but any more I've come to realise that x = "all".
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:02 AM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


It also occurs to me that this is what happens to all the babies that Noelle pops out.
posted by ooga_booga at 12:05 AM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I want to declare full-on creep factor. When presented with a women showing such affection to a rubber baby, that's my first instinct. But as I watch, I'm hearing these women express reasons for wanting a baby that would complicate raising an actual child.

Sue, for instance, is far more interested in baby accessories and baby haircuts and baby clothes and baby shoes. Early on, she's quite honest about not caring for all the mess, noise and chaos of real children. Every time we see her shopping or going through her things, she's talking about cleanliness -- to the point that she keeps a special set of outdoor carriage wheels that are permitted to get dirty. Babies seem to be a hobby item for her so, so I'm relieved she didn't get pregnant to fulfill that need.

Christine is broken by the absence of her grandson. She misses having someone small and warm and loving with her, and misses the attention she got while Harry was with her. I'm only half through part 4, so I don't know if this comes to pass, but I worry that getting the doll will only make her feel worse. She'll surely get attention while out with her doll -- but what will she say to the people that approach her? Will she explain it's fake, or claim it's asleep? Unlike Sue, she actually seems interested in a child as a living thing. Most of all, it seems that she could do with a trip to New Zealand to visit Harry.

So I guess these are serving a need, at least for the ladies in the documentary. (Which is splendidly shot, by the way - good find, Avenger!)

Ah, I've just reached where Christine gets her doll. "Nobody will be able to take him away this time, will they?" Oh man ...
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:12 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


When presented with a woman showing such affection

(wincing at several typos and redundancies)
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:17 AM on January 7, 2008


It's strange, the feelings of different kinds of sadness for these women.
posted by ZaneJ. at 12:25 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mark my words. Someday soon, I am going to bring programming like this to American terrestrial television so Americans can finally know how truly strange the British people are.

Heh. Back when I was living in the UK with my American girlfreind (now wife) she always used to be shocked (and sometimes a little offended) by the british documentaries about how strange Americans are. Like the one about people in rural America who fuck horses (and, to a lesser extent, dogs).

Coem to think of it I'm pretty sure theres people who do that sort of thing just about anywhere in the world, so it is a little odd that they focused so exclusively on the midwest. I blame that Jerry Springer episode about the guy who married his horse.
posted by Artw at 12:33 AM on January 7, 2008


How dare you talk about my wife that way.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 12:50 AM on January 7, 2008


British TV excels at taking subjects that should be on Jerry Springer and making serious documentaries about them.
posted by rhymer at 12:51 AM on January 7, 2008


So .... does the National Health Plan cover therapy? I'm unfamiliar.
posted by blacklite at 12:54 AM on January 7, 2008


Alternative comment: I guess fake babies are the new little tiny dogs.
posted by blacklite at 12:56 AM on January 7, 2008


Yes the NHS covers therapy, but probably the most effective use of NHS funds here would be to pay for the dolls.
posted by Wilder at 1:01 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


People who would buy and care for a fake baby shouldn't breed.

So, win-win.
posted by darksasami at 1:06 AM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


The horse/dog fucking documentary was actually pretty interesting, lot's of straight to camera interviews with people who seemed genuinly proud of their relationships with animals, often very emotionally attached to them and convinced the animals loved them back. I'd google it to show it to you all, but actually that's probably just a very bad idea.
posted by Artw at 1:07 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Somewhere, a once-pregnant Realdoll weeps silicone caulk for her missing children...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 AM on January 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Life-sized 'reborn' dolls are just about the creepiest form of doll I can think of. And that's including Realdolls and those 'my twin' custom lookalike dolls.

Gratuitous horsefucking link: His "wife"? A horse. (no pictures, but probably not work appropriate...)
posted by lovecrafty at 1:38 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Someday soon, I am going to bring programming like this to American terrestrial television so Americans can finally know how truly strange the British people are.

Strange we might be, but we don't spend thousands of dollars a month to pack our real children off to boot camps and other juvenile torture facilities. Give me strange over sociopathic and completely lacking in empathy, any day of the week.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:54 AM on January 7, 2008


Mark my words. Someday soon, I am going to bring programming like this to American terrestrial television so Americans can finally know how truly strange the British people are.

Yeah, now lemme get back to my chicken fried bacon.
posted by mattoxic at 1:59 AM on January 7, 2008


Co-incidentally, I actually have a life-sized rubber mother. And we do everything together!

I dress her up in a variety of clothes appropriate for a middle-aged matriarch, I take her out shopping with me, we go to the movies once a week, and - basically - we spend a lot of quality time together in the privacy of my house.

And the great thing is, even when I'm on a date, I can still hear her nagging, whiny voice in the back of my mind telling me that I'm worthless. That I'll never amount to anything. That the girl I'm with just couldn't be interested in a loser like ME. I mean no-one could ever love ME could they? NO THEY COULDN'T. And that's why she's got to pay - why you'll ALL pay for what mother did to me - wait I didn't mean that COMING MOTHER great now she's mad at me IT'S OK MOM I STILL LOVE YOU THE MOST heh heh heh rock-a-bye baby in the tree tops when the wind blows the cradle will rock when the bough breaks the cradle will fall and where were you then mother??? Where were you when your baby was broken?????

So ... anyway - nice post.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:17 AM on January 7, 2008 [18 favorites]


In a way, this sort of made me think of Yoruba ere ibeji figures.

It also made me think of Little Otik.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:56 AM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have to say though. If that blonde woman had a real child, you just *know* she'd have the kid packed off to the Provo Personality Reassignment Centre as soon as he came home in his first pair of dirty designer jeans.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:46 AM on January 7, 2008


Strange we might be, but we don't spend thousands of dollars a month to pack our real children off to boot camps and other juvenile torture facilities.

Whoa there, off that high horse... yes we do. And Channel 4 makes a documentary about that as well!
posted by ComfySofa at 3:49 AM on January 7, 2008


Whoa there, off that high horse... yes we do.

Well, some people do when some dimwitted television producer is prepared to stump up the dough. I've never heard of anyone actually spending their own money to send a kid to one of these places. We certainly don't have an enormous industry sustained by such people. Which is why Channel 4 has to pack them all off to the USA.

BTW, isn't Casa by the Sea the place that got closed for locking the kids up in dog cages? I wonder if the BBC knew about that?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:15 AM on January 7, 2008


My reaction was to think how I'd feel if a grandma, or some other relative who had known me when I was very small, had revealed that she had a life-like replica of me as a baby, painstaking reconstructed from photographs to be identical (as Harry found out in the film). What if she proudly showed me this little copy of me that would never go away and never grow up, calling it her "baby"? I respect people's right to pursue happiness in any way they want, but something about this just scares me. It's the same sort of mistake as the Aphex Twin's parents giving him the same name as his dead brother.

Also, why buy a car safety seat for a fake baby?
posted by infobomb at 5:15 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


There was another Channel 4 documentary last week called 'Half-Ton Mum' (does exactly what it says on the tin... ) so we do see other aspects of American motherhood over here...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:39 AM on January 7, 2008


What the RealDolls and the FakeBabies need are detachable and interchangable limbs and heads, so you could have a RealDoll with a FakeBaby head, or a FakeBaby with RealDoll arms. Also:

Metafilter: DISEMBODIED BABY PARTS ON A TABLE.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:48 AM on January 7, 2008


Strange we might be, but we don't spend thousands of dollars a month to pack our real children off to boot camps and other juvenile torture facilities.

Clearly not a public schoolboy, are we Mr McDermott? ;-)
posted by dmt at 5:48 AM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


This concept comes up in the book version of Children of Men.
posted by Hubajube at 6:10 AM on January 7, 2008


God, we need to start teaching people real social skills before they grow up and have money to fake themselves a life. Realdolls are one thing... but fake babies?!

HOLY FUCK, if you want a baby and can't have one, adopt and make the world a better place.

this is sick. Anyone who buys one to take around town is a selfish loser.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:12 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


also, what do people's psychiatrists think of this? seems pretty unhealthy.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:13 AM on January 7, 2008


Interesting take. "Unhealthy" is clearly anything that makes us uncomfortable?

Notions of normalcy aside, I don't see these woman causing mayhem in our wonderfully normal society. There is such a wide spectrum of metal health and ill health evidenced on any city street on a daily basis, why is this the object of such discomfort?

If this behaviour gets more pronounced to the extent that it is seriously impacting the woman's life or that of her family, then it is time to guide the person towards possible medical intervention.

How is this in any way different from people who dress their animals, and genuinely treat them as their babies, or the Rio de Janeiro socialite who spent $1million on her dog's nuptials?

There are literally thousands of mild delusions out there that do no harm at all, hence my previous point about the NHS possibly funding this one.
posted by Wilder at 6:32 AM on January 7, 2008


So...that's where knucklekids end up. I'm gonna enroll them in the Gerber Baby plan.
posted by doctorschlock at 6:36 AM on January 7, 2008


Yes, Sue's a nutter, and yes, it's upsetting to think of all the money she's spending on those fake babies (of course Roberto Cavalli designs his clothes for real babies, on whom the clothes and expense are just as wasted, since real babies will rapidly grow out of those $150 booties which mother may or may not pass on to someone else). Otherwise, as a hobby it seems to be no more harmful than any other.

Christine's story, though, brought me to tears. Doubtless she could do with some therapy, and maybe the chance to babysit someone else's child. My daughter is 3 years old and, having been home with her since birth, I can't imagine what it would be like if she was suddenly no longer living with me. It doesn't matter how the child comes to you (biologically yours, adopted, or a grandchild). Be the primary caregiver for a baby for its first few years of life and then tell me your heart won't break if the kid has to go away.
posted by chihiro at 7:25 AM on January 7, 2008


How is this in any way different from people who dress their animals, and genuinely treat them as their babies, or the Rio de Janeiro socialite who spent $1million on her dog's nuptials?


It isn't- I find those things to be equally unhealthy. I'm not sure it's my comfort level that comes in to play here so much as a severe dislike for materialists, and the fact that people buy these so they can love and cuddle and show off an inanimate object. There are plenty of real babies out there that need these things. Hell you don't even have to take them forever- there's this little thing called FOSTER CARE. How about that?

Really? I just think it's a stupid waste of money. And I still think these people are lacking something important from their social skillset.


If you wanted a doll, you would get a doll. Not a frikkin pretend-baby.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:57 AM on January 7, 2008


I don't think this is sick or unhealthy at all. If anything, it's very useful. Think how much more practical experience these mommies will have when they finally succeed in kidnapping a real baby.
posted by rusty at 8:38 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like reborn dolls as art pieces. Would I carry one around like a real baby--no. But yes, I am a doll collector (not of reborns, though), and my 8-yr-old daughter and I play dolls. We re-dress them and re-style their hair, just like Barbies but larger-scale. :) Call me weird if you want, but doll-collecting is a hobby like any other.
posted by cass at 8:53 AM on January 7, 2008


Seems like a harmless hobby unless someone neglects their real children to play with the fake ones. Also, how are we gonna explain this to the intelligent life-forms who visit us one day? I mean, this is kind of embarrassing.
posted by hojoki at 9:24 AM on January 7, 2008


Also, how are we gonna explain this to the intelligent life-forms who visit us one day?

They won't ask us to. They'll be too busy dressing us in bonnets and frocks so we can take the place of the infants they never had the opportunity to raise.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:28 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


As most dolls disturb me, there really was no way that I wasn't going to be freaked out by fake babies. Actually I find watching them tend to the fake baby quite melancholic and freaky, but freaky nevertheless.
posted by ob at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2008


I wonder if there's anyone out there producing ten year old LiveDolls for the paedophile set. If not, surely its just a matter of time -- though I can't see that there's going to be a small army of female hobbyists and semi-professionals labouring away on that particular project.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:57 AM on January 7, 2008


I'm not sure it's my comfort level that comes in to play here so much as a severe dislike for materialists

That pretty much amounts to the same thing- you describe these people as "unhealthy" because you don't like materialists. That's hardly an objective argument, and certainly not a reasonable diagnosis.

There are plenty of real babies out there that need these things. Hell you don't even have to take them forever- there's this little thing called FOSTER CARE. How about that?


I agree that there are plenty of unwanted kids that need loving homes, but I don't believe that a woman who just wants an infant to dress up and buy toys for is going to appreciate all the other little trials and tribulations of motherhood. In that case, there's a chance that a facsimile baby would prevent such a shallow and materialistic person from conceiving a real child that they're not going to want to deal with once it starts peeing and crying.

Really? I just think it's a stupid waste of money. And I still think these people are lacking something important from their social skillset.

Yet you think they should adopt children? That makes less sense that pushing a fake baby in a carriage. If these people are as screwed up as you seem to think, why on earth would you want them to raise real children?
posted by oneirodynia at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not that disturbing, I'm afraid. Just a peculiar iteration of prolonged adolescence. This is playing with dolls, make-believe, nothing more. Skeevy to me, sure, but I never like baby dolls in the first place and find "desperate to breed" cuddlelusting people fucking freaky. I've got excess nurturing instinct; I feed people and pet cats. It totally works.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:25 AM on January 7, 2008


This concept comes up in the book version of Children of Men.

I came in to say the same thing. That book has really stuck with me. I read it after seeing the movie and to me they're so unlike as to constitute two separate meditations on the same theme.
posted by jquinby at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2008


point taken.

Upon further thought, dolls just freak me out. Especially ones that look realistic. Capiche?
posted by sunshinesky at 12:51 PM on January 7, 2008


This completely freaks me out.
posted by agregoli at 12:51 PM on January 7, 2008


Can you put these fake babies in a microwave oven to warm them up to body temperature or do you have to immerse it in warm water?
posted by porpoise at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2008


Man, these are great! I’m going to put one in my stroller with a track of my real baby crying.
Then pull it out of the stroller and shake the hell out of it screaming “SHUT UP YOU LITTLE BASTARD! SHUT UUUUUUP!”

Should make for a nice weekend.
(the heads don't pop off or anything do they? That'd screw up the realism)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:54 PM on January 7, 2008


It seems like the women who need these babies and the men who need realdolls would benefit from meeting each other.

Just saying.
posted by Electrius at 2:51 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want one of these so I can chain it up in my closet, or maybe just keep it in a cage and have it the center piece on the kitchen table.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:16 PM on January 7, 2008


Oh, one of my doctors told me a story about a woman who painted these.

She carried it around with her all the time. Even brought it to her doctor's appointment in a real baby carrier. He looked at the doll and thought, "Oh, her baby's sleeping." He does the entire exam watching the baby because it seems so still and he's wondering if the baby stopped breathing. He asks to see the baby again and he's cooing over the baby watching for a breath. When he doesn't see one, he goes to take a pulse and only then realized that it was rubber.

These things are incredibly life like. In person, when they don't move, they are very very freaky.
posted by Elsbet at 5:18 PM on January 7, 2008


Are they edible? I don't get it.
posted by heyho at 5:19 PM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Are they edible? I don't get it.

Someone needs to start a life sized marzipan baby shoppe.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:21 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


porpoise:Can you put these fake babies in a microwave oven to warm them up to body temperature or do you have to immerse it in warm water?

If you can submerse them in water, you might be able to get Paula Yates in for an endorsement deal.
posted by dr_dank at 5:24 PM on January 7, 2008


And then it made me think of Himillsy Dodd....

"Smile, darling!" she sang to her charge. The woman, charmed, continued toward us.

"Come on, my little cheese monkey. A smile for Mummy!" she pinched his tiny polymer cheek. Footsteps, louder.

"I said SMILE!" She stood up and gave the stroller a mighty kick. The wheels rattled with a steely clang as it spun away in a forty-five-degree pivot and knocked into the heavily initialed trunk of one of the trees. The woman, shaken, puled up her coat collar around her gaping mouth and rushed past. Hims turned to me and announced, with the brightness of an H-bomb,

"Look, honey, he's smiling!"
posted by cmyk at 6:32 PM on January 7, 2008


real-life Harry FTW :"...you numbnut!" (5/5 07:11)
posted by ponystyle at 3:04 AM on January 8, 2008


Otherwise, as a hobby it seems to be no more harmful than any other.

I disagree. A hobby is a time-waster sometimes a creative time-waster. A public emotional obsession that apes actual human contact for someone who is clearly in need of something (therapy, a hug, etc) deserves intervention. Its one thing to collect star wars figures and its a whole another thing to walk around with a yoda puppet in your backpack because of loneliness and make conversation with it. I think when you see someone clearly in need of help the worst thing you can do is think "whoa, she's really challenging my ideas of normalcy. "
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:27 AM on January 8, 2008


I have to agree with damn dirty ape. This seems like a cry for help to me. How many people actually do this but wouldn't dare go out in public and show how desperate they are for a kind of human affection?
posted by agregoli at 9:13 AM on January 8, 2008


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