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'Parang Totoo': Artist Creates Lifelike Baby Dolls To Help Moms Cope With Child Loss
PHOTO BY (left) Facebook/Tiny Creatures
  • With realistic skin tone, faint hair, doe eyes, and rosy cheeks, the resemblance of Zarah Ongpauco's doll creations to actual human infants is uncanny. As impressive as it is, Zarah's livelihood has also been a lifeline to grieving moms.

    As a "reborn artist," Zarah specializes in remodeling dolls to look like hyperrealistic babies. Aside from doll collectors, Zarah says she also receives orders from mothers who suffered a miscarriage or infant loss.

    "Ang usual usual clients ko po is 'yung mga doll collectors and 'yung mga mommies na nag-a-undergo ng depression, miscarriage, or 'yung mga namamatayan ng babies.

    "Lumalapit sila sakin, 'Pwede niyo po bang gawan ng memorabilia 'yung baby ko," Zarah told SmartParenting.com.ph.

    The 25-year-old artist shared that one of her recent clients is a mom who lost her premature baby due to health complications. The mom asked for a custom-made doll to look like her baby.

    Zarah's dolls have a starting price of Php10,500. Her process of creating reborn dolls begins with a blank doll kit. Like a blank canvas, she paints the doll kits and adds intricate details to make them look like real babies. She also completes the orders with accessories like clothes and even a pacifier.

    Reborn dolls as a coping mechanism

    "Reborn dolls" are more than just a toy or a novelty item for many of its collectors. The Guardian cited a study on the therapeutic benefits of doll therapy to manage anxiety and depression. The hyperrealistic dolls also offer emotional help to those who plan to have a child but cannot due to fertility issues.


    "Studies suggest that doll therapy can reinforce feelings of attachment and emotional wellbeing in some patients with dementia.

    "Many reborn collectors similarly point to the therapeutic benefits of their dolls for managing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression," according to The Guardian.

    Zarah says she learned from one of her clients that reborn dolls serve as a wonderful reminder of the baby she lost.

    "Hindi naman daw niya ituturing na parang baby, parang gusto niya lang laging makita (reborn doll) kasi maaalala niya 'yung presence ng baby na ipinanganak niya," the reborn artist said.

    Coping with the loss of a loved one is never easy and each of us has our own ways of grieving. Like its name, reborn dolls are helping some parents going through child loss face a new day with renewed hope.

    Watch Zarah's story below:

    One mom also turned to her creative side to cope with anxiety. Click here to read her story.

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