BBC names Oleśnica artist one of the world’s 100 most “inspiring and influential women” for her baby ‘therapy’ dolls.
An artist from Oleśnica has been named by the BBC as one of the 100 most “inspiring and influential women” in the world for her lifelike baby ‘therapy’ dolls.
Formerly a musician and cosmetologist, Barbara Smolińska was picked out by the BBC alongside acclaimed authors, Nobel Prize winners and a female Prime Minister.
Justifying their decision, the BBC wrote: “[Smolińska’s] hyper-realistic ‘reborn’ dolls help some women process a miscarriage or the loss of a child, and for some they assist in dealing with anxiety, depression and fertility issues.”
Speaking to TFN, Smolińska said: “It’s a great honour to be recognized by the BBC, and also a surprise. I never thought my actions and work would be appreciated this much so I am incredibly happy and touched.”
Made from soft vinyl and defined by their eerily lifelike features, reborn dolls were first popularized in the United States in the 1990s.
Still something of a micro niche in Poland, Smolińska stumbled upon the phenomenon eight years ago.
“This passion found me by accident,” she tells TFN. “I was looking for a gift for my daughter’s birthday and happened to discover reborn dolls. I immediately fell in love with them.
“At first I just started out by collecting them, but then I dared to actually do them myself. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else in my life.”
First fashioned by a sculptor, Smolińska then paints the casting to lend the dolls life.
“Every vein and vessel is awarded reverential attention,” she says.
“After painting the skin colour, I then implant the hair with a thin needle, before loading the doll with a special granulate and assembling it all together.”
Stunning in their detail, the customized dolls feature moles, scratches, birthmarks and other realistic blemishes, with some even fitted with a special mechanism that gives the sound and effect of a beating heart. Scents, too, can be added.
Used in films and photoshoots, and even by trainee doctors and midwives, Smolińska’s creations have won a raft of admirers, not least among women dealing with loss or trauma.
Using the dolls as a tool for comfort, an increasing number of people are learning the value of this alternative form of therapy – according to some converts, the dolls have even saved them from suicide by providing such a powerfully realistic substitute.
Starting from EUR 400, Smolińska’s dolls have now been shipped to countries as far afield as Canada, Brazil, Bosnia & Herzegovina, England, Germany and the Netherlands.
With interest and enquiries surging since the BBC published their list on Tuesday, Smolińska now hopes to expand her business – called Reborn Sugar Babies – whilst simultaneously furthering research into the therapeutic value of reborn dolls.