Marilyn Mansfield was two when her fixation on dolls started. Thirty-four years later, the now-36-year-old woman has amassed over 300 lifelike dolls in her Staten Island home, and she’s even made a career out of them.
The woman’s obsession has turned into a career, as she and her husband, 40-year-old Zoth Ommog, now makes and sells them to earn their living. The dolls, she said, are therapeutic, and as long as people keep a strong grip on reality, these creations are also said to be helpful stress relievers.
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Mansfield now has two children with her husband, but now that Damien and Skylar, who are 10 and 15, respectively, are too old for their push chairs, caring for the lifelike dolls has become her way of filling the gap that her now grown children left in her life.
She shared, “I loved walking with a stroller when my kids were little. They don’t fit in the strollers any more, so I take out a doll.” She also said that when she had her first Real Baby doll at the age of 7 or 8, she instinctively cuddled and mothered them—her desire to take care of them just came naturally.
The dolls in her odd collection are often made with natural materials like goat’s hair, but there is a particular one that the 36-year-old New Yorker holds quite dearly, not because of its monetary value, but because the doll is made with something from a loved one—particularly, hair from her son.
Marilyn said, “One of my favourites is Davina Star. I rooted her hair with my son’s hair. We usually use goat hair for the babies, but I decided to use my son’s hair so she looks like more of the family.”
Marilyn’s husband even took her bizarre hobby as his own, supporting his wife’s obsession and accepting it as part of his life. Speaking about the collection, he noted, “This is my life and has been for over ten years now, living babies surrounding me in my bedroom and every room of the house. I help care for them, I help make and sell them. It’s part of the lifestyle that I live now.