For passionate dollmakers, reborn is a form of art, says Bizet. The buyers range from collectors, the lonely or depressed, couples coping with the loss of a child, and even a hospital that uses the dolls to calm People with mental illness. “They are so happy to see babies,” says Bizet . “It’s like sunshine during the day.” The joy is fleeting, as People with mental illness eventually begin to doubt the authenticity of the doll and lose interest, but for a few moments they are once again holding a daughter, or a grandchild.“When you have a real reborn doll in your arms, it’s something different. When they are really well done . . . it feels like a real baby,” says Bizet. “The hands, arms, legs, everything. Especially when you take the head of the baby on your shoulder.” While Bizet maintains it’s “just a piece of silicone,” to many of the women he photographed, it’s more than that. Amanda, for instance, takes her reborn, A.J., out for walks in a stroller, and says it eases her mental illness.
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