I present to you the five ‘doll’ types that I have been considering modelling my own doll-like nature upon. There several types out there but I have narrowed it down to these. I proceeded to do some research on each and have written up my findings in brief.
The five are:
Ball-jointed dolls; and
Each of these has their own unique story of how they came into common use. From a dress maker’s form to a theatre performance, dolls can be very fascinating. A far cry from the simple, mass produced child’s toy we commonly think of today.
Well, I thought it only right that a mannequin should be the first item on the list. Seeing as it was initially an encounter in a mall with a mannequin that first sparked these thoughts. But I have written in detail about this encounter in my previous journal entry, so I do not believe I need to rewrite all those details.
It seems that the word mannequin has its origins in the Flemish language from the word manneken, which means “little man, figurine”. The word mannequin in French had acquired the meaning “an artist’s jointed model”. Later it in the United Kingdom it began referring fashion models themselves.
There are may different kinds of mannequins. Those used to teach first aid and other medical procedures, artist’s mannequins which assist with pose sketches and mannequins used in military and test functions. Mannequins used to display clothing are the kind I am interested in. It is the most common kind of mannequin.
Shop display mannequins had their origins in the dress maker’s form. A dress maker’s form or dress form is used to assist during the creation of clothing. Gradually they found their way into the stores themselves as a way to demonstrate fashions for customers.
In the mid mid-19th century the first mannequins were made of wire and then papier-mâché. Later they were made of wax to produce a more lifelike appearance. In the 1920s, wax was supplanted by a more durable composite made with plaster.
Today mannequins are made with materials such as fibreglass and plastic. The classic female mannequin has a smaller to average breast size and is petite in build. However mannequins which vary from this are now more commonly available.
Bisque dolls or as I know them, porcelain dolls are one of my selections as they were and still are one of the more famous doll types out there. In my mind, I often associate porcelain dolls with the Victorian era which is a culture that has always fascinated me greatly.
My small amount of reading on bisque dolls has shown me that their history is quite complex. Initially, bisque dolls were made for children of well-off families and often where they were dressed in the fashion of the times. They had their peak of popularity between 1860 and 1900 with French and German dolls. Today these dolls are often desired by collectors and can be quite valuable. Bisque dolls that are manufactured in the present are chiefly for collection purposes only.
Bisque is unglazed porcelain with a matt finish. The bisque is usually tinted or painted to give it a realistic skin colour. I would love to have such a clear perfect skin free of blemishes. Most bisque dolls have a head of bisque porcelain and a body made of another material. The body is made of cloth of leather, or a jointed body made of wood, papier-mâché or mixture of materials. Because of bisque’s fragility, doll bodies are rarely made entire of this material, if they are, they are called all-bisque dolls. Bisque dolls usually have eyes made of glass and can vary in size from life-size to half an inch.
Ragdolls are a common children’s toy, even I had a few. They are in my selection as I associate them with happy childhood memories of make-believe tea parties, dress up and company when there were no other children to socialise with and the grown-ups were too busy with grown-up things.
Surprisingly rag dolls are one of the most ancient children’s toys in existence; the British Museum has a Roman rag doll, found in a child’s grave dating from the 1st-5th century BCE. Traditionally rag dolls are cloth dolls that are home made from material and stuffed with spare scraps of material. This process makes each one rather unique. Currently, many rag dolls are commercially produced to simulate the features of the original home-made dolls. This included specifications such as simple features, soft cloth bodies, and patchwork clothing.
Ragdolls are often the stars of children’s story books and even appear on TV and in movies. I think it is the time that I too star in my own story and share it with the world. They also appear to be universally well liked and popular, which is a characteristic that I would love to have as well.
A ball-jointed doll by definition is any doll that is articulated with ball and socket joints. However, I will be using this term in the more contemporary way, to refer to modern Asian ball-jointed dolls. The dolls often posses a fairy tale level of beauty and mystique.
Ball-jointed dolls are often referred to with the acronyms BJD or ABJD and I have found that they are also called Asian fashion dolls. Fashion dolls are dolls primarily designed to be dressed to reflect fashion trends. The most famous and well-known fashion doll of modern times is Mattel’s Barbie, but fashion dolls have been around for hundreds of years. Bisque dolls were a type of fashion doll as well.
The dolls are cast from a hard, dense, plastic called polyurethane synthetic resin. The parts of the doll are strung together with a thick elastic and the limbs can be posed. The BJD style has been described as both realistic and influenced by anime, but there is no hard and fast rule. They commonly range in size from about 60 centimetres (24 in) for the larger dolls, 40 cm (15.5 in) for the mini dolls, and all the way down to 10 cm (4 in) or so for the tiniest of the tiny BJDs.
Customization of a ball-jointed doll is usually easy to achieve with painting, the ability to change the eyes and various wigs available for use. The variety of available clothing styles and accessories is vast.
To appear as beautiful and stylish as if you have just stepped out of the pages of a fairy tale or even a fashion magazine would be a wonderful ideal for me. Far better than being the bland ordinary woman who fades into the background and becomes invisible.
A marionette is a puppet controlled from above, using wires or strings. I have selected a marionette as one of the potential options due to the performance aspect. I have always been enamoured by theatre, especially opera and ballet. To find that marionettes had operas and even theatres specifically created from them were a very pleasant surprise.
Puppets have been around since ancient times. Evidence suggests that they were used in Egypt as early as 2000 BC. Written records of the use of puppets dating from the 5th century BC also tell us of the use of puppetry in Ancient Greece. Puppets have been entertaining people for a very long time.
Sometimes people refer to marionettes as “puppets”, but the term “marionettes” is more precise. It distinguishes them from other forms of puppetry, such as a finger, glove, rod and shadow puppetry. There are different types of marionettes and different control bars. Each type, of course, varies in its level of difficulty to control. The most common material used to create a marionette is wood.
The thought of myself being able to perform using the skill of the person pulling the strings is very appealing. I believe it would remove a large amount of the pressure of performing. Of course, attached to strings or wires, the possibility of stage fright and backing out then becomes impossible. And besides, which girl has not envisioned herself as a graceful ballerina at least once?
I have been spending the last few weeks doing some research into the various Living Doll subcultures. What I have discovered has surprised me, as there are many subcultures that makes use of the term “Living Doll”.
If you type Living Doll into a search engine you will be presented with a wide array of results ranging from a song made popular by Cliff Richard, an Australian clothing brand, and episode from The Twilight Zone which first aired November 1, 1963.
It needed a lot of surfing, reading and filtering to get to the information I was actually interested in. What was immediately apparent though was the fact that there appears to be no single, clear cut definition of what a “Living Doll” is. So to cover all of the bases that I have found, below you will find a short introduction to each of the subcultures I encountered.
This is not an official name for this subculture. I am not even sure if it qualifies as a subculture as there are very few who would be able to successfully pull this appearance off. It is the name I will be using to describe a group of girls and women who have attained internet fame for their looks and are quite often compared to the popular doll Barbie by Mattel. It is probably the first thing most people would think of if you bring up the term Living Doll.
This trend of Living Barbie Dolls appears to have its roots in the Ukraine, with the most famous names including Nastya Shpagina, Alina Kovalevskaya and Valeria Lukyanova. These ladies sport seemingly impossible figures with very tiny waists and large busts giving them a resemblance to Barbie. They have also been described as having very anime like features. This is because in most Japanese anime, the characters have very exaggerated physical features which a person would not normally see in the real world.
Barbie Dolls in Mainstream Media
Valeria, Nastya and Alina have gained quite a bit of fame for their appearance, but a lot of it has been negative. The mainstream media tends to do media pieces on these ladies as “creepy”, like for example this ABC Newscast available on YouTube:
(what tickles me pink about them finding Valeria creepy, is they have no problem giving their children a Barbie to play with, but that is another topic)
There are all manner of rumours flying around on the internet as to whether these ladies have had cosmetic surgery or if their photos have been photoshopped and so on. I am not going to delve into the mud flinging contest and try and find the truth, especially as each girl’s story will be unique. A simple Internet search on any of their names will bring up several articles and videos if you wish to know more about them. What I can say is they show some serious dedication in achieving their appearance and are expert makeup artists! From this subculture, this is what impresses me most. With some makeup artistry, they can change their entire appearance to something almost otherworldly. They inspire me to spend some more time in front of the mirror experimenting.
My thoughts on Barbie Dolls
While I admire the dedication of the Living Barbie Dolls, I cannot help but question the long-term health effects of what they are allegedly putting their bodies through. Personally, I think being healthy is a large part of what makes a person beautiful. If they are not straining their health in favour of appearance, then I see no wrong with the situation though.
As for my own body, I don’t even think my bare skeleton will have that waistline. Aspiring to such an appearance would be an unrealistic goal for me. I don’t like the idea of someone slicing me open and fidgeting with my insides either. So even if I could afford cosmetic surgery, I probably wouldn’t consider it. I really dislike hospitals and avoid them as far as possible. People who have cosmetic surgery done have a level of bravery I cannot muster.
This subculture is a name I am putting to a group of ladies who call themselves living dolls. The word ‘kawaii’ comes from the Japanese language and is an adjective meaning ” pretty; cute; lovely; charming; dear; darling”. It has however evolved beyond being a word into representing an entire culture of cuteness. This culture extends into everything from handwriting, various merchandise, clothing and fashion and interestingly mannerisms.
The Lolita Fashion subculture is closely associated with and often overlaps with Kawaii Living Dolls. Lolita is a fashion subculture originating in Japan that is based on Victorian and Edwardian clothing and has many subcategories within itself such as Gothic Lolita and Sweet Lolita. It has no connection to Vladimir Nabokov’s book Lolita. It is important to remember though that not all Lolita think of themselves as dolls and not all dolls dress in Lolita fashion. But there are girls who call themselves living dolls that also have an interest in Lolita fashion and combine the two. I will discuss the various fashion subcultures in a separate post though.
Examples of Living Dolls that I would say are Kawaii Dolls are the young ladies such as Venus Isabelle Palermo, better known as Venus Angelic; Dakota Ostrenga better known as Dakota Rose or Kotakoti. I am sure that there are many Asian Kawaii Dolls that I am not aware of. It is not surprising to find that like the Living Barbie Dolls, the Kawaii Dolls too have plenty of controversy surrounding them. Accusations of photoshopping photos being the main point. In addition, there are several unflattering articles, some with alleged evidence attached that expose a ‘not-so-pretty’ side, personality wise, of these Living Dolls. As before, I refrain from digging through the mud. It is up to each reader to decide to investigate further and make up their own minds.
Kawaii Just in Appearance?
Kawaii Dolls often wear clothing with ribbons and bows. They favour makeup that makes them look childlike and innocent, with large eyes and tiny mouths. The rule of thumb for these dolls as far as appearance goes is, the cuter the better.
While I am sure that many of us wish we naturally had the cute flawless appearance these young ladies present to the world, I have come to realise while researching them that inner beauty is just as important. You can photoshop as much as you want, but if your inner self isn’t pretty, it will show through eventually. Please note I am not saying that the accusations are true or false. I am just saying that outer appearance isn’t everything.
Kawaii Dolls also appear to have excellent makeup skills, something which I need to develop. They are also not afraid to embrace cuteness which I admire as I am hesitant in that regard. I feel as though my age would make it seem very silly for me to wear oversized hair bows and very frilly clothing.
Masking seems to be a subculture subsisting largely if not entirely of males who dress as females. Not something I was expecting to find when researching the term Living Doll. On the surface Masking may appear like the “Drag Queen” subculture there are some very definite differences.
Drag queens dress and act with exaggerated femininity, using dramatic over the top makeup, eyelashes and hair. They do this for comic, dramatic, or even satirical effect. The drag queen culture is very much associated with gay men and gay culture, though I am sure there are exceptions. They are sometimes called transvestites, but this is a term that most drag queens do not favour. Drag queens usually cross-dress for purposes of entertainment and self-expression which does not accurately describe those who cross-dress for the fulfilment of transvestic fetishes.
On the other hand, female maskers appear to be mostly heterosexual men some of whom are married. Again, as with everything, I am sure there are exceptions and I make no claims at being an expert. Instead of making use of makeup Maskers wear latex or silicone masks, torsos or a full body suit to make themselves look like a woman. Frozen in a single expression the mask gives the impression of a doll or mannequin. Therefore, the terms living doll or even rubber doll are used to describe them.
Maskers in the Public Eye
At masking conventions,these men don their masks (and other accessories) and participate in activities in a group, such as going out to a club. But most of them only practice masking in the comfort of their own home for fear of how society may judge or react to them should they go out in public.
A documentary called “Secrets of the Living Dolls” is one of the first to bring the Masking subculture into the spotlight. It is this documentary that most of the popular articles you will find on the Internet on Masking are based off.
While I do not fall into the demographic of those who practice Masking, I do find the idea of a mask and even a body suit appealing. Perhaps this is because the mask will allow a drastic non-permanent, non-surgical change in features. Or perhaps it is because of the anonymity the mask will provide. However, there does not appear to be such items made specifically for women wanting to mask. Besides the availability problem these masks and ‘skins’ are rather pricey, well out of reach for me.
Animegao kigurumi appears to be a specific branch of kigurumi. “Kigurumi” comes from a combination of two Japanese words: kiru (“to wear”) and nuigurumi (“stuffed toy”) and is a term used to describe costumed performers, specifically mascots. The word animegao translates as meaning “anime face” and animegao kigurumi is used to describe a form of mascot-style cosplay that emulates Japanese anime characters.
While it seems like this subculture was initially born in the commercial circles in Japan, as part of promoting popular anime series, like the way cartoon character mascots are used in the western world. It was then embraced by cosplayers, who are also sometimes called dollers. These cosplayers began dressing as their favourite characters or sometimes even characters of their own creation. Wikipedia states that “the characters are usually female, and commonly human, although kigurumi characters of other races and genders do exist”.
Animegao Kigurumi Cosplay
Animegao kigurumi cosplay has two important distinctions from the cosplay variety that most of us are familiar with. The person will be wearing on oversized mask with anime features, to help achieve the correct proportions of the animated character. The other major feature is a peach or flesh coloured zentai or bodysuit. The zentai suit covers the person completely head to toe, leaving nothing of the person exposed. This is also to help more closely emulate the anime character, giving them an even “coloured in” skin complexion.
What was rather interesting for me to read was about the male and female ratio involved in animegao kigurumi. In Japan, per the Tumblr Animegao, there are far more male animegao cosplayers or performers than female, but in the professional circles, where companies hire cosplayers or performers specifically for promotions, there are far more females than males. The fact that one finds so many males “dolling up” as female characters immediately made me think of the Masking subculture. They also share a similarity in wearing a mask and body suit, even if the materials used are different.
My discovery of animegao kigurumi was purely by chance, but it is by far one of the doll subcultures that I find most intriguing. I feel myself drawn to the idea of not leaving any part of the person dressing as a doll exposed. This seems like it will create a more complete immersion experience for both the doll and outside viewers. The anime masks by default have very exaggerated features that make them a step removed from normal humans and in this way perhaps more doll like. Maybe for a while it would be possible for a time to see only a doll instead of human in a costume.
Kigurumi’s Other Meanings
I should also mention that kigurumi may also refer to animal style onesies that are too adorable for words. They are most often sold as pyjamas, but from what I read are sometimes worn as costumes to costume parties or even just for fun. Of course, kigurumi can also be used to describe fursuits often crafted and worn by those who identify as “furries”. Hence the term animego kigurumi is used to distinguish those dressing as anime characters from the rest.
This subculture falls squarely into the fetish or kink scene and while it shares overlapping ideas with other Living Doll subcultures it has a definite underlying sexual nature. The forum site Dollification.com defines dollification as the process of evolving, mentally and physically into a “living doll”.
Like a Master/slave or Dom/sub relationship where the doll will have an “Owner” or a desire to be owned. However, there is no intention to degrade or diminish the value of the doll. Often such relationships appear to have extremely complex natures that are not easily explained. I have no personal experience in this subculture and I will make no attempt to expand on the intricacies of such a relationship. I can only present what information I have encountered and be open to correction.
Living Doll Physical Characteristics
The listed mental characteristics of a “living doll” include the enjoyment of objectification, natural subservience. An underlying desire to be transformed whether by their own hand or outside forces into a living doll is also a characteristic.
The physical characteristics cover a broad spectrum and are not limited by a specific pre-defined ‘ideal’. The ideal physical aspect is often set forth by the doll itself, an Owner or a combination. Some of the physical extras include but are not limited to corsets, stiletto heels, stockings, dresses, skirts and of course make up. Rubber, vinyl and plastic suits are also as potential parts of dollification. Body modification such as piercings, tattoos, surgery are not beyond the realm of possibility.
As for the gender participation, there appears to be both men and woman involved in dollification. Women being made more doll like, men being made to look like female dolls, and men being made to look like male dolls.
I like the concept of there not being a predefined perfect physical ideal and that each doll has one specifically set up for them. This means that a realistic attainable goal can be set and worked towards rather than striving towards something that is impossible to reach.
Corsets have always been something that I have honestly been drawn towards. I enjoy the feeling I get when wearing them as I don’t get to wear them as often as I would like. As for stiletto heels and stockings I don’t own either of these items. I admitted before my wardrobe is not very feminine, with hardly a dress or skirt in sight. The idea of a body suit or second skin appears in this subculture as well, something which overlaps with some of the other subcultures.
Living Doll Mental Characteristics
The mental characteristics that have been listed have given me a lot of pause for thought. Objectification as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as follows: to treat someone as an object rather than as a person. Part of me is very curious and would like to experience an objectification situation to see if it something I could find enjoyment from. As for the desire to be transformed, well, I think this blog is proof that this probably does exist within me.
“While not all who possess these innate qualities will embrace them, it will not change that it is part of who they are by nature.” – dollification.com
This sentence struck quite a chord with me. It both terrifies and encourages me to continue this journey of discovery.
The term Living Doll means different things to different people. There is no clear-cut definition or blanket doll archetype that covers all the subcultures. While I have covered some of the Living Doll subcultures I do not claim that this list is complete. I invite readers to please give feedback on any other subcultures they know of, as well as to correct any misinformation in this post.
I would also like to thank everyone who has put up with my ramblings thus far. Knowing that there are people out there reading my blog encourages me to continue.
I am not sure how you found my humble blog, but I am glad that you did. This is my first ever blog and I am sure that it will show through in the amateur nature of my posts, however, I feel that my sanity may be in danger if I do not somehow express my thoughts. By blogging, it is my hope that others might find my writing and tell me that I am not losing my mind because at the moment several of my friends, at least those whom I have shared a particular secret desire with, are now questioning my mental stability. It has become somewhat of an “in-joke” and hence I incorporated that as part of the blog name.
The other part of the blog name points towards my secret desire, though I guess putting it out here on the internet means it is a lot less of a secret now. The thought of even more people knowing it is making my stomach twist into knots and I know the moment I put it down into words and publish this, there will be no going back. So deep breath for me, here it is: I want to be a doll. Yes, a doll, and not in the figurative sense. I am aware of how crazy this sounds as I can see it in the reaction of some of the friends I have told and maybe I am crazy but I cannot help it, these thoughts simply will not leave my head.
I know many readers might want to tell me “it is just a phase”, but I am no teenager. In fact, I am a woman in my thirties. If I were a teenager this whole situation would bother me a whole lot less because I am sure it would only last until the next thing caught my attention. But more than 6 months later this desire to become a doll remains firmly fixed in my thoughts. Perhaps it is an early midlife crisis?
Many women aspire to be the perfect, flawlessly beautiful, magazine cover worthy woman, but this has never been me, I was always the Tom Boy. I do not wear makeup very often, I do the minimum of body hair control, I have maybe 3 pairs of shoes and I can be most often found wearing jeans and t-shirt. I am sure there might be a dress or skirt lurking between my clothing somewhere but I will opt to wear pants. This makes the whole desire to be a doll so much more confusing and out of character for me.
I used to participate in physical sports, but due to a knee injury was forced to stop all high impact activities. This in combination with medications and a degrading diet, with plenty of stress eating led to me ballooning to the biggest size I have ever been in my life. I never had high self-esteem or a great body image to start with and the little I did have went down the drain when I took a good hard look in the mirror. I never really considered myself pretty, but at the very least I used to be in better health when I was younger.
It wasn’t soon after this depressing realization that I fell ill. I don’t think I have every felt that sick and by all rights, I should have been admitted to the hospital. I was unable to eat anything, my body would simply reject it a few minutes later. Staying hydrated was a huge battle as well as even plain water would sometimes have me throwing up. I was in pain and felt terribly weak. There was a point where I felt that dying would have been a kinder mercy than remaining in that state. Despite the medical tests run, no underlying cause aside from severe stress was cited. I don’t ever want to be that sick again.
My general practitioner explained it to me, the large amount of stress that I was under at work had caused my immune system to be suppressed. This allowed germs that would have normally not had any effect, the opportunity to run rampant in my weakened system. This forced me to be bed ridden for the better part of two weeks while trying to recover. During this time I cursed my body for being so weak and wished that I were stronger, or even better, completely immune to illness.
It was soon after this that I was in a mall, attending to the obligatory shopping for household items. What occurred in my mind that day is something that I could not have predicted. As I walked past a store window, something in the caught my eye. Pausing, I found myself staring straight at a mannequin donned in a gorgeous flowing evening gown. Sure it was the dress that initially caught my attention, but I soon found myself staring far more intensely at the mannequin. The dress was something I could never wear, for no matter how beautiful the dress itself, it would look ridiculous on me, that is to say, if they even had it in a size that would fit me.
I found myself in envy of the mannequin. Fashioned in the image of ‘ideal’ female form, she would look amazing no matter what clothing were placed upon her. There would never be an issue of big enough size or if it would be flattering. I found myself feeling weak, my body still not fully recovered as I stood there for a prolonged period so I leaned heavily on the trolley. My gaze still on this mannequin, I realized that she would never face this as she is immune to diseases – these awful weaknesses of the flesh. With smooth, blemish- and hair-free skin, no worries of gaining weight, perfect features that would never wrinkle or age. I found myself progressing beyond simple envy. I found myself wanting to be her, wanting to be a mannequin. Where my only job in life would be to look beautiful and to be admired by passersby.
I came to my senses eventually and left the mall in somewhat of a haze. I had put the thoughts down to simple stress and illness induced fancies and suspected that they would fade like the daydream they were. Yet to my surprise they did not. In fact, quite the opposite occurred as I found them growing in frequency and also evolving. I caught myself looking at pictures of mannequins and then dolls at an almost obsessive level. My desire to be one of these beautiful creations increasing on a daily basis until I had to admit to myself that these thoughts were not going to simply go away.
Where do I go from here? Well, I not really sure if I am honest. Maybe I should simply indulge in my desire and aim to become as doll-like as possible. Perhaps that shall quiet the obsession, or perhaps it will make it worse. I guess there is no way of knowing unless I actually walk down that path. Maybe trying out a few small things to start couldn’t hurt right?