How to Deal with Being Bullied for Your Dolls

A frequent topic in the Facebook doll groups is the bullying, criticism, and judgment many collectors get (sometimes from their own families!) for loving dolls.

It's both sad and infuriating that people would give other adults a hard time for a hobby that makes them happy without hurting anyone, but it's true.  Dolls especially have a history of being trivialized by society.  Adults can collect model cars and trains, actual cars, Legos, trading cards, or sports anything and not be criticized for it, but dolls have historically carried a heavy stigma in society.

I'm sure any doll collector reading this knows exactly what I mean.

I've been collecting since 2000, so after 24 years it's not really a secret anymore to anyone in my life, and honestly I've never kept it a secret.  I post my doll pictures to my personal Facebook as well as to my public Instagram and my Facebook business page.  Everyone knows I collect dolls, and I have been fortunate enough that none of my friends and family have ever criticized or made fun of me for it.  (Or if they have, I haven't noticed.)

Of course, I've run into the whole "crazy doll lady" and "old lady doll collector" stereotypes before, and I've encountered a little (though not much) negativity sometimes while out shooting photos.  And I've seen the posts from people who have wholly unsupportive (and at times, borderline abusive) families and friends.

Last night I encountered probably the most vitriolic criticism I've ever faced, from someone I had suspended in a completely unrelated group I admin.  The member violated our group's kindness rule and argued with me when I posted a gentle reminder, so I suspended his participation for a few days.  In response, he cyberstalked my online accounts and private messaged some really nasty things about my doll hobby and business.

Of course I promptly banned him from the group and blocked him personally, which brings me to how I handle any kind of bullying or nastiness for my doll hobby:  I don't put up with it.  Period.  There's no faster way to get a ban, a block, or a drop kick straight out of my life than being deliberately negative and hurtful about something that makes me happy.

Of course, I know cutting ties with the bully isn't always an option for every doll collector.  I know many collectors who still live at home and have to put up with their families' hurtful comments.  But here are a few tips from someone who is completely, unashamedly open about collecting dolls, and has been for almost a quarter of a century.

1. Draw a line.  The line will be different for everyone, but I encourage you to draw the line where you want it, not where you think maybe isn't too much to ask.  Have high expectations of the people who claim to care about you.  For me, this line is any deliberately hurtful or judgmental comments.  I have friends who think dolls are creepy and that's fine.  I don't talk about dolls with them and they don't judge me for collecting them.  But they would never be unkind to me, and that's what's important.

2. Enforce that line.  Lines don't mean anything if you don't act on them, right?  So if someone in your life makes a habit of suggesting you should get rid of your dolls, and that's the line you decide to draw, the next time they say something about it, you need to respond in a way that makes it clear you won't put up with it anymore.  Perhaps that is, "My dolls make me happy and they're not hurting anyone.  I'm not planning on getting rid of them and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop suggesting I do."

Sometimes that's all it takes, but if they bring it up again, you could say, "I've already told you I'm not getting rid of them.  I'm not going to put up with your constant comments about it."  And the next time, follow through by walking away as soon as they say something about it.

Don't stick around to be abused.  Don't allow them that power over you.  Walk away, and if that's not enough, get away.

3. Reconsider anyone who won't respect your line.  Being bullied over your dolls isn't any less serious than being abused for any other reason.

Let me say that again.  Being bullied over your dolls isn't any less abusive than any other form of abuse.

Doll collectors often think what society has trained them to think, i.e., "It's just dolls," as if that makes the bullying less abusive.  But it's not "just dolls."  People who bully you over your dolls are toxic and if you didn't have dolls, they'd find some other reason to cut you down.  In fact, they probably already do, so take some time to think about all the ways they show a lack of respect for you... and then maybe it's time to consider whether that person has any real value in your life.

I know learning to stand up for yourself isn't easy.  The last 30 years have been me learning to stand up for myself, and even though I think I'm pretty good at it now, I'm still always learning.  But it's these little battles that will help you gain the courage and self-confidence to stand up for yourself in larger ways, too.

If you're reading this post, you probably already know that doll collecting is a way of life.  We have a pretty strong community online, and many collectors also have strong local communities as well.  Collecting dolls teaches us to appreciate beauty, to work with our hands and solve problems, to be empathetic and understanding of others (because there are doll collectors from all walks of life in our groups).  Collecting introduces us to new friends and challenges our memories and intelligence on a daily basis.  It teaches us values such as kindness, cooperation, and community.

None of these are things to be ashamed of.  We have beauty and kindness in our lives.  Can the people criticizing you say that about their lives?

So next time someone criticizes your hobby or bullies you because of your dolls, stand tall and remember that you have the entire doll community behind you when you tell them to go &*@# themselves.


  1. Cannot find your doll repair forms..can you e-mail to me


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