Playing With Dolls is Good for You

become a doll collector - why playing with dolls is good for youWhen I first embarked on my fashion doll journey, sometime back in the late 1990’s, collecting dolls was rather straightforward; you collected them, and you either unboxed your dolls, or you didn’t. That was about it. At least that was all that anyone at the time was prepared to admit to. Maybe that was because we didn’t have Facebook and the permission to share it now gives us!

Since the advent of the Internet with its copious blogs, boards, forums and countless social media sites – not to mention – the doll collectors’ world has expanded exponentially. Collectors have also felt the pinch of the economic downturn. This has pushed them to seek out new ways to add value to the collection that they already have, resulting in an explosion of creativity. What is even more evident is the obvious pleasure that adult collectors can get from actually playing and interacting with their dolls.

Fashion dolls are now no longer relegated to just standing on shelves, silently imploring their owner to play with them. They are now proudly displayed, redressed, repainted, restyled, furnished, sewn, crocheted and knitted for, written about and photographed. Heck, with the growth of the ‘frankendolly’ they are even given a whole new body or blessed with a brand new head!

playing with dolls - grand opening of the grocery store
The latest edition to Dom’s town is the Grocery store Ialou. Photo courtesy of

When it comes to fashion doll creativity and play, my dear friend and force of nature Dom Cossu, is the
embodiment. She weaves a whole world for her dolls and has built a detailed townscape for them to inhabit in her Spanish home. The depth and breadth of this world of 16” fashion dolls she has created is truly a wonder. Dom herself states that she “I have no interest in keeping my dolls in boxes for the purpose of reselling them.” Be certain to check out her website Domi-Doll Stories and prepare to be amazed.

Playing With Dolls: The Science Part

What’s more than the ability for dolls to give collectors new opportunities is how our hobby can be doing us good. Another good doll friend, Viktor Zavadsky, recently brought an article to my attention via, which stated how hobbies helped people live longer, richer lives. The Washington Post piece described a 2007 review paper by Gutman and Victoria Schindler which examined studies looking into how an interest in arts and crafts relates to human health and well-being. They discovered that those who took part in such activities were at less risk of stress-related illnesses and had a slower decline in brain function.

Another 2012 study by Professor Yonas Geda of the Mayo Clinic looked at the effects of taking part in a variety of hobby based activities, including play. They found that those who did were 30 to 50 percent less likely to have mild brain impairment to those who didn’t. The reason for this, it seems, is the more time spent on hobby based activities, the more stimulation the frontal brain cortex gets. Therefore, delaying its degeneration. The camaraderie of being among like-minded individuals who share a common interest, either online or at conventions and get-togethers, is also known to be of immense benefit to mental well-being.

So what are you waiting for? Play with your dolls and hit the boards: not only will it exercise your brain, but may just live longer into the bargain.

The original version of this article was first published in the now defunct Haute Doll Magazine in January 2015

13 Replies to “Playing With Dolls is Good for You”

  1. in fact going to the convention is therapeutic , not only that it will be fun to meet my friends there, but I will certainly live long enough to go back again next year 🙂 lol
    thanks again Simon for this so gentle article . the doll world, surrounded by wonderful friends is my all life

  2. What a fantastic article Simon! Looking back at my childhood it was pretty clear that I’d become an adult doll collector. I loved creating stories and now dolls give more dimension to those stories. Also, I love comming here and sharing my dolls with people that don’t think I’m some kind of weirdo twenty-something that plays with dolls.


    PS. I’m a little bit jelous of Dom’s huge doll place, but in a good way.

    1. Thank you, darling! Yes being able to share our interest in a safe and nurturing way is very important and something I set out to create when I started DollObservers 🙂

  3. I love that there’s a large doll community out there, and that it’s not filled with silent individuals who are too afraid to say “I like dolls and I play with them!”.

    I’ve just found the site here, going to check around. I don’t have that many dolls, but I have *so many outfits* and I’m seriously considering whether or not it’s time to build a house for all of them.

  4. Nice article!!

    Dom is also always sharing her creativity with all of us, which I appreciate it. I only have few ‘big’ dolls and Dom’s ideas are always welcome.

    Simon, I can tell you that I never stopped playing with dolls except for a few years while I was in high school as I had a lot of assignments – not because I didn’t like dolls anymore. Then, while in college I played with my older cousins’ little girls every time I had a chance.

    Don’t know why but I just remembered that as kids, my sister and I had some cars (which were thought as toys for boys) and spend hours in our backyard ‘building’ roads and making ‘bridges’ for those cars. The only problem was that once we came back from lunch the chickens had destroyed our roads and we had to work on repairs – 🙂

    1. I can just imagine the damage those chickens must have made, lol. I think we are all children at heart, the danger comes when you deny it or crush it.

      1. CS Lewis said it best: “When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

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