siliconebabymothers

Strolling through the fairground of the working class neighbourhood of Rekalde in the Basque city of Bilbao, the four women chatting and pushing prams and pushchairs attract little attention from passers-by.

It is only when they stop that the locals start to notice that their babies seem strangely immobile and quiet. Closer inspection shows them to be Reborns, lifesize silicone or vinyl hyperreal reproductions of babies that are a growing fad in Spain and elsewhere.It’s a trend that’s not without controversy.

Some are fascinated by the minute attention to detail of these anatomically sculptured dolls. Others find them disturbing, and there is debate within the movement as to the level of emotional attachment some people have towards Reborns, and its psychological consequences.

Cristina Iglesias, owner of BabyClon, Spain’s largest manufacturer of hyperreal silicone babies, with a workshop employing eight people in Leioa, near Bilbao, is uncomfortable with the name Reborn. “The word comes from after the war, when all the little girl’s dolls were destroyed, and their mothers took the arms, legs and heads and rebuilt them. Thus they were “Reborn”. The name has evolved so much that it doesn’t have anything to do with the original meaning. It has come to represent more a movement than an actual product.” 

Iglesias’ dolls use platinum silicone, a high end material employed in surgical processes such as breast reconstruction. The result is a full-bodied baby with a feel remarkably akin to human skin. It comes with a price tag to match. “The most economic, normal sized doll is 1200 €, and they can cost up to 4000 to 5000 €. A basic model with motors costs 4000 €” says Iglesias. She is referring to a prototype using servo motors that appears to breathe and suck on its pacifier.

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