I am very scared of dolls. This wasn't always the case — I used to brush my American Girl doll's hair for hours, perhaps since I was never able to run a brush through my own curly hair. I very often, and very unironically, played with Barbie dolls.
I can pinpoint the exact moment I knew, truly knew, my dolls were watching me. Perhaps if I hadn't watched the "Living Doll" episode of Twilight Zone, I never would have abandoned my lifelike dolls and the outfits my aunt had painstakingly sewn. Yet after seeing Talking Tina torment her owner's family, I could never make eye contact with my Samantha and Addy dolls, so sure was I that they would wink playfully at me. From that day on, I turned Samantha and Addy around so I could catch them on the day their heads turned around.
Why are dolls, those uncanny copies of human beings, so downright unsettling? Is it the lifeless eyes? The hollowness? Or, can we blame our fear on movies like Annabelle: Creation, out on 11th August, that take our uneasiness around those semi-human objects to new unseemly heights?
All I know is that paediophobia, or the fear of dolls, is a real phenomenon. “However much we know that a doll is (likely) not a threat, seeing a face that looks human but isn’t unsettles our most basic human instincts," Linda Rodriguez McRobbie wrote in Smithsonian. After all, what else can fill the vacancy in a doll's eyes but an evil spirit?
These are the pop culture dolls that are to blame for exacerbating our fears.
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