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Dolls, Desire, and the Perception of Reality

Aug 14, 2007

    1. Inspired by the several "girly boy" and "beauty white" threads that always like to pop up!

      The question is... do dolls reflect our perception of reality? If so, how much should that really matter?

      Edit: [This thread isn't meant to spearhead more "Effeminacy is inaccurate." or "BW is racist." or "Mass amounts of rape in your photostories is screwed up." I think those threads constantly pop up because some people feel as if those elements are a reflection of a doll owner's desire or perception of reality. That's the purpose of this thread, to discuss if that's true or not (as we're seeing it is for some people, it isn't for others) and whether or not it matters.] End Edit.

      I think people react strongly to these topics (BW and Girly Boys) because we assume our dolls reflect our perception of the real world. For me, I tend to not see these things as an "issue" unless someone glorifies beauty white skin or the girly boy type. By glorify I mean they think it's an ideal achievement to have these characteristics, so much so that they desire it for themselves or in a partner (and thus live it vicariously through their dolls).

      Sometimes it does a disservice to people (IMO!! JUST IMO!! I'm not a professional XD) such as in the case of the effeminate promiscuous gay doll. Effeminacy and promiscuity should never be EQUATED with gay men. They do exist, but it doesn't equate. In other cases I think it's an unfortunate result of society, like when women are constantly surrounded by images of thin busty bodies.

      I have no right to enforce 'change' upon people to fit my own perspective, but I do have a right to throw in my two cents. On the other other hand I have to admit another person's personal view has no bearing on my own life, so sometimes I feel bad for scrutinizing a fun hobby, ie. these lovely dollies.

      Anyway, opinions?
    2. My dolls are a "pretty fantasy word" for me, like paintings of fairies and stuff ^_^. I don't think they're the ideal reality that everyone should strive for, or that people really act in real life the way that people make their dolls act (like you said, I know there actually ARE effeminate males, but I don't think that that automatically makes them gay, or that all gay guys run around in pink dresses glomping everyone) . I just think they're the ideal... dolls :)!

      But... in a way sometimes it makes me question myself! What do I really find beautiful? All my dollies have light skin. It's not that I don't like dark skin, because I do... and well, I have dark skin myself @_@... and I do want tan dolls... someday, but while my money is limited I choose to spend it on lighter dolls o.o... does it mean I'm wrong or bad or that my perception of true beauty is messed up? Is it because I'm a bad person or because where I was raised where there is a light skinned majority xD;? Who knows... if doll fantasy is separate from true reality, then it's ok to choose your dolls to be the way you want them to be, right?
    3. I've had to confront this issue within myself[?] and with my doll, mainly because I wonder if I'm just trying to make Cain into my ideal guy (to make up for the fact that I haven't dated for two years ..): ie, English/Japanese mix, accent, dark hair, pretty eyes, well-dressed .. you know. It just makes me feel weird some times, so I understand where you're coming from saying all this.
    4. There's a famous intellectual in Japan - his name is not coming to me right now - who hates the glorification of yaoi and shonen-ai because he says that it's not helping the gay movement at all.

      In that regard - it really does bother me when people seem to find that the aesthetic and characterization of gay men should be towards the anime ideal of slender, pretty boy. It's not for the same reason; I don't personally feel that it holds anyone back, but because it is such a severe form of stereotype. Most of my gay friends tell me that they don't like it because it implies they like women - which is what most of these characterizations act like, in all honesty.

      Personally I feel it gets out of hand in the doll community - maybe because the molds are so easy to make into these stereotypes.

      Of course, there are some gay men like that, but in my experience, they constitute a very small percentage of the population.

      I would just like to reiterate this; and say that it's my opinion as well.
    5. Most of my dolls are elves, and if I had the choice they'd be beauty white most of the time. That doesn't have anything to do with reality though... It's pure escapism for me. My dolls are elves because I prefer fantasy over reality, and I prefer white skin because it's a sign to me that they don't live in this world.

    6. We already hit these same debates on the other Race, Bodies, & Effeminacy threads. Some people thought they could get everybody to agree that yaoi is bad for the world, just because they personally didn't like looking at girly male dolls; but that trick didn't work there either. And everybody knows that racism is bad and some gay men are masculine and human bodies aren't really shaped like doll bodies. I ain't gonna ram anything into the ground here that hasn't already been argued to death. But knock yourselves out, enjoy.
    7. I see that "living through our dolls" seems to be a common theme, but my dolls don't represent who I want to be; really, in their own unique way, they represent who I am right now.

      Even if you do find a doll that's aesthetically pleasing to you, or is an embodiment of what you'd want for yourself, that doesn't mean that doll is right for you. For instance, I find the latidoll redline dolls incredibly attractive, but after having one for a while, I just found that...well, in the doll sense, they weren't my taste. It's essentially, a doll I could admire, but who doesn't have the character of what I'd like to own. In fact, there are a few dolls I like simply because of the fact that they're not conventionally attractive, and who I would never wish to look like.

      I suppose it all relates to the extent of how seriously you take the hobby. If you can still distance yourself from the doll world and distinguish your own reality and don't dive into depths of obsessiveness, I think that dolls simply reflect parts of yourselves, and the different facets of your personality, or whatever character makes you happy. (i.e. incredibly evil dolls in the hands of incredibly nice people).
    8. I honestly think you really can't get away with the idea that they're "just dolls." They are dolls, but they're based on humans. Two arms, two legs, human faces. Even moreso when people make their dolls into their characters, and those characters are humanoid, if not actually human. There is reflection of reality in the making of the character, whether it's human, elf, vampire, whatever, so it makes sense that there is also reflection of reality in dolls as well.

      Although, erm... I don't think I worded that thought out very well.

      I DO quite agree with you on yaoi and femmy males, in both dolls and manga, reflecting negatively on real gay men. I often see (not in the debate thread, the answers have been much more thoughtful in that thread) people try to explain that their dolls crossdress because... he's gay. *headdesk*
    9. While I wouldn't say that dolls are always just dolls...they aren't actual flesh and blood people either. They are our own fantasies and may or may not accurately depict the rest of the human world. I think the issue with femmy cross dressing boys=thinking real gay men are like that (and other such issues), is that some people are getting the reality and fantasy confused (most reasonable people should know that cross dressing does not a gay person make. But unfortunately, there will be people that just aren't connected to that reality). But, I do believe that a large portion of yaoi fans do know the difference. And you do come across some gay men that like yaoi too, though it's geared towards a female audience and as such may hold less interest to gay men.

      We could all make our dolls as politically correct as possible with mixed race dolly families and realistically depicted gay men and the like (I'm sure there's other examples besides those two, but those are the ones that pop into my head), but then the fantasy element would be gone. The beauty of dolls is that they don't have to be realistic. They can express the things we think are beautiful, interesting, the things we aren't, as well as the things we are.

      My dolls' characters are a reflection of parts of myself to an extent, but they also have elements that are not like me (which is a good thing, or else I would have some major problems ;) ). Dolls give me the ability to both explore parts of myself, but to also move beyond that into the realm of fantasy and imagination. I would hate to have people carrying on at me just because my dolls didn't resemble real people closely enough.
    10. I suppose everything we do reflects on our ideals and beliefs in some way, but I'm with Raven. My dolls are complete and unadulterated escapism. My characters for the most part are ghost or sickly children about to meet an untimely end, so yeah they are beauty white. Does that reflect on me? Well, I am light-skinned myself, but I have olive tones so I'm still not fair. I just struggled with deciding recently between a tanned skin Rosy or a beauty white. The beauty white won out when I decided I wanted my character to be a ghost along with my other Supia doll. Does this mean I want to be a ghost? No, I just think it comes from a childhood of being read one too many Edward Gorey stories at bedtime.
    11. My mini boys are how they are because that's what I find attractive. They're all somewhat effeminate because that's how they came, for the most part. None of them are gay, none of them are semi-effeminate because of their sexualities or their personalities or me wanting them to represent my ideal reality, they're just what I found aesthetically pleasing. I don't think this means my perception of things is skewed (not that that's what you're trying to say). Maybe it is representative of how I see things (I tend to find "pretty boys" more attractive, but tell that to my 6'2", 210-lb, door-opening chair-pulling manly man of a boyfriend and see what he thinks), but for the most part I think many doll owners would agree that their dolls are mostly, if not entirely, based more off their own "fantastical" reality than the real one. I'm not saying there aren't those whose dolls are an idealization of reality or something like that (I won't go into my bigger boys and the separate, independent, totally not made up by me world that they live in, because I'd confuse the hell out of everyone), but I think saying that people's dolls are some representation of the view of reality they carry deep within their subconscious or the like is, well, bull (Again, not that anyone's saying this. It's all just imho.). :roll:
    12. Wonderfully written. Wonderful topic!
    13. On my part, I find the most frustrating to fight with the limitations of the hobby. I think I tend to seek aesthetic ideals on dolls, but I also like another parameters hardly represented in this world. IE, my ideal of woman beauty is tonned, athletic, slightly muscular and tall. And no brand has ever done that, you can choose from delicate maiden to voluptuous woman, but even if 'athletic' is a beauty canon socially accepted, it is not what marjority wants. The very same way, masculine, broad and muscular male dolls are a relatively new trend, and proving to be extremely succesful (so my hopes for warrior women are still up!). I think it is not always only sticking to an ideal, but also facing what is available and choosing there.
      On my side, I like both effeminate boy type or large, wide built man (ala 300 XD!). And someof my dolls have features that I don't like for myself or I do not find specially attractive (body piercings, tatoos), but seem to 'fit' with the characters. So it reaches a bit far from self reflection, imho.
    14. Dolls for me reflect more of a fantasy world than reality. I don't think there is anything wrong with things like making a doll to match your perfect man or something - I think people get too worried about the psychology behind the choices they make with their dolls (for example just because you prefer white skinned dolls, doesn't make you racist!). Dolls are a way of expressing your imagination and fantasies. People always get worried about fantasies (am I weird/is it wrong?), the great thing about the internet and places like this forum are that you can see that so many people have weird and wonderful ideas and fantasies that are not possible in the real world (and in many cases would be considered "wrong" in the real world), and that such fantasies are "normal" (whatever that word means!). What is wrong is when people confuse reality and fantasy...that is unhealthy, and probably reflects other problems in that person's life that they are trying to escape from etc
    15. My dolls are part escapism (Elves - pure fantasy creatures but ones i've always been attracted to in terms of fiction reading, role-play games, costumes etc), and part an outlet for costumes and outfits I'm either the wrong shape, age or gender to wear myself (OK, so I *could* wear any of them myself, but they wouldn't look anywhere near as good). Besides, which dolls are so much smaller than real people so I can afford enough of the expensive fabrics to make doll outfits that I couldn't afford for a full sized garment/outfit/costume.

      I refer to them as "my babies", but that's just being cutesy. It doesn't alter my perception fo reality about them - they are lumps of resin, not real people - beautifully made and attractive lumps of resin, but resin nonetheless.

    16. In a certain way my dolls reflect my perception of reality. I like having a variety of skintones simply because the world is that way & it makes for diversity in a collection. I have some gay males but neither is effeminate or a crossdresser. They're more like the majority of gay men I've known. The same for my lesbians, they aren't tough but rather beautiful women who just prefer other beautiful women.

      Of course, I have some purely fantastical characters & they reflect my fondness for pure escapist fiction.

      I don't think it really matters how closely one's dolls resemble the real world as long as a person can seperate their fantasy world from reality. Our life experiences can be reflected in our fantasies & I believe that for many people that is the case. Our dolls exist as dolls but also contain personal reflections.
    17. Nope. Not mine. :)
      When I clicked on "normal skin", I expected something a bit darker. :| I'm happy with my boys, but was surprised by their lightness. The homme skin that Elfdoll comes with is more along the lines of what I expected to receive.
      At the time I ordered my IP boy, all they had were pictures of a white skin and a tan skin. So, I figured "normal" would be midway between. *shrug*
      And with the UD Jace, the promo pix were fairly dark, and it was difficult to tell just how light or dark he would be.
      Angel of Dream was a new company, and we didn't know what the skin tones would look like there either, but I wanted that doll! ;)
      Somewhat the same with the Kdoll Karon I got. I fell in love with the head in the marketplace (it was already faceuped and had a wig and eyes), and I didn't give a rat's hinder what color he came in.
      Blue Fairy only makes the one skin tone. Again, I wanted that head and body, so got what they had.

      So as far as skin color goes, my dolls are more a representation of what was available, not my ideal.

      As far as personalities, my boys are mostly snarky - full of sarcasm and a warped sense of humor.
      Now, while that may reflect a bit on myself, it's not my ideal.
      *cough* *thinks about husband*
      Okay, maybe it is. :XD:

      But really, they're characters. (and I hope to create a bit more variation even though I seem to be unable to handle the sweet and innocent ones. I do keep trying though.)
      I don't find them to be a representation of the perfect personality. It just seems to be what I'm able to produce. again *shrug*

      What with prices being higher for skin tones other than white or normal, and their rarity, I don't think it's a characteristic that can be judged on an even level as to representing someone's ideal. It may be more a representation of their pocketbook or when they decided they wanted that doll.

      With characters, it's just whatever character they want or need. :)
    18. I totally totally hear you. Nothing would make me happier than a tall, athletic, busty, lady doll. If a company were to put out a woman like that I'd snatch her up in a heartbeat, in NS tanned or BW, all three if my bills could handle it X3;;; I'm really looking at Iplehouse or Elfdoll to make this happen.

      Anyway this thread isn't meant to spearhead more "Effeminacy is inaccurate." or "BW is racist." or "Mass amounts of rape in your photostories is screwed up." I think those threads constantly pop up because some people feel as if those elements are a reflection of a doll owner's perception of reality. That's the purpose of this thread, to discuss if that's true or not (as we're seeing it is for some people, it isn't for others) and whether or not it matters.

      A peek into the "BJD as an Unhealthy Obsession" thread will show that some people can take this hobby too seriously, but the gray area is where do you draw the line? For me, I focus more on the sociological aspect rather than the financial one, although finance influences that. I do this because I don't believe these dolls are just casual toys for most. As demonstrated in the responses to this thread, they're a method of escapism or a creative outlet for others, and that makes the dolls more valuable than a dollar sign and thus far more influential in a person's life simply because we make them out to be that way.

      I wanted her so badly. But she'd look too short next to the rest of my brood XD I agree though sometimes it can be a representation of someone's pocketbook, at the same time maybe not because the response to IH's release of Cocori was more about her aesthetics. Some people wanted her that much, though admittedly her price is nowhere near Tanned Hye XD
    19. here goes my opinion >.<

      Well I'm pretty new, but I think those dolls ... humm it can just be everyone's opinion. I mean some people can have them for different reasons. Like somebody wanted a Caine or soemthing, another person said she liked elves so all of her dolls are elves. As for me I just want a doll that represents myself.

      It's actually pretty interesting to see different reasons why we want a BJD. Sometimes... even perversion strikes in my mind when I see those dolls, especially those bishounen ones *cough cough*
    20. I'm a bisexual female with brightly-coloured hair & clothes & a generally perky attitude.

      My husband is a 6'4" skinny goth with long, long dark hair & striking looks... although generally to be found in black jeans & a black T-shirt ;)

      My best friend is a glamourous cross-dressing bisexual male with a real flair for co-ordinated outfits, & a walk-in-heels skill I will never attain.

      The rest of my friends are pretty eclectic, locally, internationally & online, with writers, actors & occultists of all ages, sizes & nationalities.

      So maybe it's not that unusual that my dolls are two same-sex couples, three elves (only one of whom is pale-skinned, one a deeply tanned red-brown skin colour, one a shimmering blue-black fantasy-creature) an air-spirit, a fashion-loving regular girl & a teenage boy-next-door.

      In my experience, my friends, gay, straight, bisexual, young & older, are not easily categorised, & come in a wide rainbow of flavours of femininity or masculinity, or aspiring towards genderlessness.

      I don't think I'd ever say that choosing to make your dolls certain characters is stereotyping, when there is such a wild & fabulous range of humans in the world.

      What if I wanted to recreate a real friend who was a promiscuous, dramatic gay male? Why should that character be off-limits, if I am drawn to create him? What are our doll-stories without a little drama & conflict now & then? It's not for everyone, I understand, but for me, variety is the spice of life, as they say...

      Do we excise any characters who we think are 'negative portrayals' from our writing? And how can we sit in judgement over how people of other sexualities to our own should be portrayed? Frankly, it was a gay friend who, shortly after my DS Bernard's box-opening, & my musing as to which (if any) of my other dolls he might be attracted to, said "Oh COME ON, Lucy, he's obviously a bender!"

      I'm all for a bit of humour, & characters which make things fun in the household.