The sex doll industry

In the 2007 film Lars and the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling plays the role of Lars Lindstrom a pathologically shy 27-year-old who comes out of his shell after he takes his relationship with Bianca, a lifelike sex doll, public. In one scene from the film, his cosy village community decide to support Lars by treating Bianca to a set of beauty treatments. An uncanny scene for most, but for some a reflection of everyday life.

Indeed, for the former, there’s nothing synthetic about these little sex dolls—and not just for the older, single men you might expect to purchase a sex doll. Like the subjects of Diamond’s images, which portray members of an artist community known as the Reborners—some of whom are unable to have children, or have lost a child—holding hyperrealistic “babies,” some of Dorfman’s subjects are also mothers, who’ve welcomed their dolls so fully into their families that they join the rest in sitting at the kitchen table.

Over the last thirty years, the sex doll industry has evolved from producing cheap novelty items made of rubber, plastic or vinyl to a global industry estimated to be worth $30 billion featuring high quality, high tech, realistic looking cheap sex dolls, made from TPE and silicone, some of which are equipped with artificial intelligence. It’s less Barbie more I, Robot. These material advances, in turn, have allowed for more customisable products: nowadays most doll manufacturers offer a wide range of personalised faces, skin colour, body types, breast sizes, and eye-colours to choose from, and, for the more demanding clients, some companies provide additional features such as a customisable clitoris, artificial milk glands, and also an insertable hymen. Then there’s the customisable make-up.

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Archo Watkins

Everything about sex doll

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