I know that not everyone is like me, and I remember very vividly how worried I used to get about it, so I thought I'd share my experiences, and hopefully spur a few of you on to flaunt your dollies loud and proud!
I've found that getting out and proud with dolls in public tends to results in one of the following:
- Maybe it's my stupid baby face, but sometimes people treat me like they think I'm much younger than I am, i.e., a little kid. Or maybe just that I'm 'not all there'. Sigh. (Because obviously, a 'normal' adult wouldn't play with dolls, right?) Gavin has on a few occasions been indulgently smiled at as if he was my carer/parent. I suppose at least this attitude is fairly kindly and friendly. A family once helped me look for a doll shoe that had fallen off. Completely patronising, but well-meant, I guess.
- Complete indifference! An awful lot of people barely look up when they go about their day to day lives, never mind notice what I'm holding/taking photos of.
- Politely bewildered curiosity. Particularly from the 'kindly old lady' demographic, who want to hold them, know their names, and get all the dirty details on the pricing so they can look politely shocked and shake their heads. Mostly very sweet, I find the best way to deal with them is just to ham up the 'collectable', 'hold their value' kind of stuff. Basically, the same thing you say to your friends/parents/significant other when you're justifying a cheeky purchase.
- Straight-up delighted curiosity! Mostly from little girls who stare longingly at me like I'm the coolest person ever, and I love it. I like to make my dolls turn towards them and maybe give them a little wave, and if it's a Blythe, maybe an eye change. I've had a few adults, too, who think they're adorable or awesome and just want to hold them and coo. Not as often, but really cool. I especially love it when people recognise them.
- Mild distaste. I've never actually had anyone outright laugh at or mock me (this is Britain, for goodness' sake), but I've had plenty of withering looks. Mostly from my peers, because the 18-25 age range is all kinds of judgemental. (I can't wait to be old and batty.) This one used to bother me the most, but now, if someone looks at me funny, I just figure they're not a cool person and therefore not worth my time caring. It sucked quite a bit when people I knew from school or university saw me carrying a doll around and threw me a dirty look, but again, I suppose they're not worth my time. It's not like I'm carrying around a severed head. I find that outside the school/university demographic, people care a lot less, and are more willing to just let you do your thing, which is awesome.
I have found the best way to carry a doll around to attract minimum attention is to just simply hold it firmly round the waist and carry it like you would a water bottle. Slightly more carefully, but essentially, just holding it without making any effort to hide it, and not paying an awful lot of attention to it. People will follow your lead. This works especially well with Blythe as she is so sturdy. Large BJDs are a whole other kettle of fish! Just cradle it, like it's no big deal. Like you're carrying around a cardigan or something. The more casual and confident you are about it, the more people just take it in their stride.
If you're apprehensive about getting your doll out in public, here are a few (hopefully) helpful ideas:
- Take photos! A camera legitimises all sorts of ridiculous things that are far more silly than a doll. Planking, for a start. You're making art, guys. Art.
- Go somewhere quiet! A nice quiet walk somewhere, where you'll only bump into people every so often, to build up your confidence. Failing that, go somewhere you aren't likely to bump into people you know. Going on holiday is a great time to do this, as no one knows you, and they'll probably just think you're a pleasantly eccentric tourist. (Plus, doll holiday snaps are the cutest.)
- Act like it's no big deal, and honestly, everyone will follow your lead. Be confident, and don't hesitate and half-hide the doll, which just draws more attention to you - just whip her out loud and proud. You have an awesome hobby. Everyone else is lame and boring.
- Don't go with negative people! My sister for example, lovely as she is, still acts mildly embarrassed when I break out the dolls in public. This is not encouraging, and she ends up making me wonder if I should feel stupid or embarrassed, and the whole experience just isn't as pleasant. Instead, go with someone who thinks it's cool and will stop and wait for you to take photos, and doesn't mind maybe holding the doll for you, or helping with set ups. (I refer to Gavin regularly as my 'doll-hanger'. He's the perfect example of a supportive companion on doll outings, if I say so myself. An excellent catch.)