This week’s blog feels almost like an emergency elastoplast to rectify the damage caused by the channel 5 “documentary” about doll ownership that was so far from the mark as to be barely recognisable by those of us who collect these girls.
As usual it was a program where any sensible person who knew channel 5 refused to be associated with the production but that did not stop them from making it anyway with snippets from other productions intertwined with people who knew very little being described as experts on the grounds that they were the only ones who would talk to the production company.
How does one balance thinly disguised pornography intended to titillate such shows target demographic except to go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and consider these girls as interactive works of art.
So let us start by asking the question, what is art? Some may confuse it with an investment opportunity, but a quick Google search returns the definition that art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”. I can think of no better description of the beauty inherent in so many of the masterpieces being produced in the far east by master designers able to capture the essence of beauty in their sculpts.
Which brings us to the title of this week’s blog. Leonardo Da Vinci strongly influenced the amalgamation of the study of the human body and art. His work “Vitruvian Man” examined the range of movement that centuries later forms the basis of creating lifelike movement ranges in humanoid robotics and, of course, in dolls.
Beyond anatomical perfection, top quality dolls should also be considered unfinished masters in that they need that finishing touch that adds life to them. The right wig, the right application of makeup. Some truly great photographers find life in images of these girls that creates a viewer empathy for the subject. For example, look at the work of artists such as Stacey Leigh or the atmospheric images of Psion Satori and even the most sceptical of readers would be happy for those images to hang on their walls.
Perhaps the best current example of how art is bringing recognition of dolls is the exhibition by the Prada foundation in Milan of photographs devoted to peoples love for their dolls. This includes the still lovers collection of Elena Dorfman that goes beyond attempting to capture the life inherent in these girls to capturing the love demonstrated by those who invite them into homes. It does not sexualise the dolls but rather captures them in the everyday lives of those they are with.
So how does the normalisation of emotional attachment to the inanimate through art coexist with devaluation of these girls by shock TV intended to appeal to the basest of human instincts. The simple answer. It does not. As the old line goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It seems no matter how hard the media looks they simply cannot see, or perhaps just do not want to see, the beauty of what’s in front of them.
To my mind those who own, photograph and develop very human relationships with dolls are those who possess a higher moral and emotional intellect. And by and large find the content of programs such as the afore mentioned documentary abhorrent. The horror expressed through the various forums at the channel 5 show demonstrated outrage not dissimilar to the outrage that would be expressed by art lovers should the Sun put the Rokeby Venus by Velazquez on page three!
By now you are thinking, what has all this elitist chatter got to do with me wanting to buy a doll? Well, the way that you are perceived by others in the future is very much driven by the way that these dolls are accepted by the public now. In the far east, helped by exhibitions such as Oriental Industries 40th anniversary exhibition of the evolution of their dolls which was attended by over ten thousand visitors (interesting, more women than men), doll ownership has been accepted within the culture. Unfortunately, in the west the media are looking to paint a picture far from the truth in order to get their programs commissioned or column inches sold. What they write is less influenced by the truth than it is by what they believe people want to see or read. A very good example being the channel 5 documentary complete with sinister voice over’s, and perceiving these works as art in a similar manner to blow up sex dolls.
Those who have yet to buy their first doll may be strongly influenced by the image portrayed in the media and I hope that this blog intended to bring more balance to the decision process that you face has helped a little to exorcise the jaundiced views of those who have possibly never actually seen or felt one of these girls themselves, and are still under the misconception that what they are buying is just a sex doll.
People collect BJD’s. Gothic dolls, Anime figurines and other larger scale figures without issue. They are recognised as hand finished works of art. But the media cannot seem to see beyond a doll that can be used for sex being anything other than a sex doll.
What you are buying is truly a work of art. It does not simply fall from a mould to be packaged on a production line by machines. Rather the doll is meticulously finished by hand by skilled crafts people. I personally have seen numerous WM #273’s which is currently a very popular doll head. Each one is stunningly beautiful but I have never seen two that are absolutely identical. Even if you placed each of them in a room with the same wig, the dolls owners could immediately go into the room and recognise their own girl as each whilst similar is actually quite unique.
Returning to the original question in order to draw a conclusion. Dolls are created with skill and love, they are indeed appreciated primarily for the beauty and emotional power, so, to my mind, they do indeed completely fulfil the definition of being works of art.
An aspiring author, Shamus has edited books for a major publishing house. A regular contributor to the UK Love Doll Forum since 2011, his writing both helps others and brings to life his collection of largely WM dolls.