By Rebecca Drew
MEET THE British woman who role plays with her collection of thirteen reborn dolls as if they are REAL LIFE BABIES after her unusual hobby helped her overcome her grief at the miscarriages of her baby brother and niece – but her friends and family think it’s CREEPY.
Customer service apprentice, Natasha Harridge (19) from Rugby, UK, first discovered the reborn community on YouTube in 2012. For two years, Natasha was enthralled by the hobby watching others roleplay with their dolls as if they were real babies and begged her mum to let her have a doll.
In 2014 Natasha got her first reborn doll, Hannah, and since then her collection of dolls has grown to 13 and they are called; Sierra, Isiah, Holly, Aubrielle, Isabella, Jasper, Noah, Lucas, Autumn, Pablo, George, Otto and Fawn. The dolls’ ages range from premature newborn baby to four-years-old.
Natasha started her own Instagram and YouTube pages, South Willows Reborns, where she posts pictures and videos of her cuddling and changing her dolls which are popular with her thousands of followers and subscribers. Over the years, Natasha reckons she has spent around £5,000 in total on her hobby.
Some of Natasha’s friends and family find her hobby strange but they accept the reborn dolls as part of who she is.
Now Natasha wants to show others that people who collect reborns aren’t crazy and explained that sometimes people collect them as a form of therapy if they are unable to have children themselves and said that roleplaying with her reborns helped her grieve the miscarriages of her brother and niece in 2015 and 2016.
“Don’t judge before you know the facts. There might be specific reasons people collect the dolls, within my time of collecting I’ve lost my niece and brother so they have really helped me through those losses,” she explained.
“It was very hard for me because I am an emotional person. It was very difficult. My sister and biological mum both miscarried in 2015 and 2016 so we never got to meet them but having the reborns to hold made me feel like the babies were there in physical form.
“I care for the dolls as if they were real. In the sense that I cuddle them and change them but I mostly use them for photography.
“I used to have really low self-confidence however when I take the babies out with me, I feel much more confident and happier due to the endorphins they help release and they give me the confidence to go out more.
“I love being able to care for the dolls without having to worry about dirty nappies and crying babies.
“My friends think the hobby is strange however they understand, they have always been supportive which I’ve been grateful for.
“My parents don’t really understand why I collect the reborns but they too support the hobby and my sister finds the reborns creepy but knows that they make me happy.”
As well as having a supportive family, Natasha’s partner, Damian, is also supportive of her hobby and even poses for pictures for Instagram.
Natasha spoke about how she decided to set up her Instagram and YouTube channel and explained how she researches child development in order to achieve the most realistic role play videos.
“So, as I had watched many YouTube channels it was something I felt like doing so I created my channel in early 2015 where I now have around 2,300 subscribers,” she said.
“I decided to start Instagram because I loved sharing photos on Facebook but wanted a personal platform so made my page in 2016 which now has around 6,000 followers.
“I do occasional role play for my YouTube channel. I research about what babies do around a specific age and try to add that into my role play for YouTube to help with realism.
“Most reactions I get are positive. Most people are shocked when I say, ‘it’s a doll’ and think it’s so unique and amazing however there are a few who find it creepy. Usually I just laugh, I mean everyone is entitled to their own opinion, right?
“People who do this hobby aren’t crazy. We all have many different reasons for collecting the reborns including those who have lost babies, those who enjoy collecting the reborns and those who can’t have children of their own.
“We are all normal people, just with a unique hobby.”