Post written by Kat McDaniel, Chief Innovator at MEDiAHEAD | Marketing Portal Guru | Variable Data Promoter | Analytics Advocate | Explorer
At MEDiAHEAD there’s practically a museum, or I guess I like to think of it as a gallery, of lovely, old doll heads that I’ve collected over the years.
Doll heads with sleepy eyes, staring glass eyes, porcelain faces, mops of hair and with no hair at all.
I think of them as art with the beautiful patina of age.
If they’re too nice, I don’t buy them. I like the ones that are cracked, paint chipped and tattered. Some child loved these dolls into the piece of art that they’ve become in their old age.
But one of the more relatively recent ways we relate to dolls is as strange objects of – and this is a totally scientific term – creepiness.
A fear of dolls does have a proper name, pediophobia, classified under the broader fear of humanoid figures and related to pupaphobia, a fear of puppets. I personally do not like ventriloquist dummies with their creepy fixed grins.
Dolls inhabit this area of uncertainty because they look human, but we know they’re not.
Our brains are designed to read faces for intentions, emotions and potential threats.
Even though we know that a doll isn’t likely a threat, seeing a face that looks human, but isn’t, unsettles our most basic instincts.
When designers come to MEDiAHEAD they love to look at the doll heads and outsider art that I also collect.
They appreciate the quirkiness and whimsical nature of them.
My children and employees…not so much. One employee told me that, although my doll heads look dead with empty eyes, they give the eery impression that they’re going to move.
I recently saw a photo that someone posted on Facebook of a cabinet of doll heads. Her response to all the negativity was this:
“Your poor, poor friends. How sad it would be to live a world where everyone likes the same food, pieces of art and styles. Open up your mind a bit – people find beauty in all kinds of things. All of these negative comments make me sad. And for the record, I have not murdered anyone and fed them to my poodles.”
My sentiments exactly.