Christina Keeler, 36, currently has four dolls she loves to dress up, take on trips and photograph, and is so obsessed with the unusual hobby that she and the dolls even have matching pajamas.
A woman turned to role-playing with her collection of lifelike dolls after her baby died – and now her husband and two miracle daughters are getting in on it too.
Housewife and mum Christina Keeler, 36, currently has four dolls that she loves to dress up, take on trips and photograph.
Christina, from Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, USA, loves the hobby so much that her husband Bill and two daughters, four-year-old Grace and two-year-old Joy, are joining us, and the family has even started their own Youtube channel.
The mum-of-two, who admits some of her family and friends don’t like the unusual hobby, started obsessing over dolls shortly after losing her and Bill’s first baby in 2015 .
The grief runs even deeper because Christina has endometriosis – a long-term condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes – when she was in her twenties and the doctors told her she couldn’t conceive.
Luckily, Christina and Bill continued to have Grace and Joy, but Christina still wanted a newborn baby to hold, dress and photograph. At the same time, Christina watched a documentary about reborn dolls and people who participate in role-playing with the hyper-realistic dolls as if they were real babies and was immediately intrigued.
Christina researched the hobby on Instagram and purchased her first reborn doll, Hannah Hope, in January 2021.
“As adults, my husband, Bill, and I have experienced the painful loss of our child,” Christina said. “I found myself looking for the feeling of a newborn baby in my arms. To this day it’s very hard to talk about it, it’s only because of the rebirths that I can even talk about it.”
“I remember screaming and screaming at God from the hospital bed, ‘I want my baby! I want my mom!” Christina added. “I lost my mom a few years ago to cancer, and that’s when I realized my baby was now in heaven with my mother and that my arms had remained empty.
“Luckily we were able to go on and have two healthy daughters, but I could never get rid of the feeling I had in that hospital bed, yearning for my baby in my arms and finding myself empty-handed. and heartbroken.”
Currently, Christina has a collection of four newborn age dolls named Isabella ‘Izzy’ Sage, Isaiah Scott, Lennon ‘Lenny’ Levi and Princess, which she loves to dress up, cuddle up to and take pictures of. Grace and Joy often take the dolls out in public to places like the supermarket where people often mistake them for real babies.
Christina says she quickly became obsessed with the reborn dolls after watching a documentary about them, and eventually created her own YouTube channel with Bill’s help so they could film box openings, launch videos and a “resurgent news show”.
“I love a lot of aspects of the hobby – dressing them up and taking pictures, cuddling them and taking them on outings with my family,” the mum said. “I love that it’s a hobby I can do with my family – it’s the most important things to me besides my faith, and having them share this hobby that I’m passionate about makes me so happy.”
Christina and her family share their reborn adventures on Instagram under the handle, @the_reborn_family_youtube and on YouTube where they are known as The Reborn Family. Although her immediate family is supportive of their hobby, Christina admits that not everyone in her extended family understands revivals, but she hopes that by continuing with her social media channels, the revival hobby will soon be considered an acceptable pastime by society.
When Christina goes out with her dolls, most people are shocked to learn that the dolls aren’t real babies after mistaking them for real newborns, which is a lot of fun for the Keeler family.
“I have in-laws nearby who completely disapprove of my hobby and have asked Bill not to support me. None of my friends or family have accepted my hobby,” Christina said.
“They find it weird and refuse to even talk to me about it. It’s like the big elephant in the room that we all pretend wasn’t there. It’s hurtful. Members of my family even wrote rude comments on my YouTube channel..
“YouTube filters out most rude comments, so it’s rare that they make it onto our radar, but we do still get a few comments that sneak in and aren’t the nicest. I had a comment from a member of the distant family: “You freaks.” I considered responding, but decided to delete it and move on.
“I would like them to be happy for me and celebrate that I found something I love. This hobby may seem strange to some people, but it doesn’t hurt anyone – it’s a hobby -harmless time that I wish I could normalize. That’s my goal anyway. Normalize this hobby so it’s accepted by society.”
Christina added, “I take my reborns out maybe a few times a month. I don’t always film it, but usually if we release a reborn we film for our YouTube channel. Other than the occasional whisper, we seem to get some really positive feedback.
“If we wanted people to think it’s a doll, we’d make them look like dolls. People will come up to us and ask how old the baby is or if they can take a peek at the baby, then we tell people it’s a reborn doll – they’re usually quite surprised and have a good laugh and appreciate the amazing art that’s so realistic.
“Sometimes, though, people will feel silly for thinking they’re real. I feel bad because that’s not what it’s about. It’s supposed to make you smile and enjoy the beauty and the wonder of art.”
Christina hopes she will be able to normalize reborn dolls as a hobby and hopes to showcase the artistry that goes into creating these beautiful dolls to achieve this.
“I understand that this hobby might seem strange at first – but take a minute and ask yourself, ‘why does this bother me?'” Christina said.
“The truth is that this is a perfectly harmless pastime where a group of predominantly women (all ages) admire the realism of art in various ways, such as holding them, photographing them, naming them, etc
“No matter what the hobby may be, as long as it is not harmful to yourself or others, and if it brings you joy, then go for it and what other people think be their problem not yours.”