While I was finishing up the Great Diary Scanning Project, I discovered a diary entry from April 29, 2004, when I was first learning about and coveting BJDs:
April 19, 2004
I spent much of the weekend on the ‘Net, paging through sites of BJDs. I reconfirmed that CH [CustomHouse] Gene is the most beautiful doll in the world and that I really want it. I also finally articulated what makes me uncomfortable about BJDs….
Physically, BJDs [speaking about the majority here] look prepubescent. Their heads take up a large part of their body proportions similar to the way that a baby’s proportions do. They also have eyes that are large for their faces the way that a child’s eyes are. Finally, the girls have no breast development, the boys comically small dicks. They look like kid dolls.
At the same time, BJDs also seem adolescent and adult. They have luxuriant wigs, the hair on which could never be so thick or full on an actual child. Only a teenager has time to grow the waist-length hair popular with these dolls. BJDs’ swappable eyes recall vanity contact lenses that teens or young adults use to look cool. As the final point, every BJD’s facial paint scheme — called by the age-neutral term "paint ops" when discussing action figs, is called "makeup" or "faceup." Makeup is associated with teens and adults more than children. Hmm, maybe they’re teenaged dolls. [Volks actually has a line of Super Dollfies called SD13 which is supposed to have a "more mature body," but that just convinces me that the default bodies were LESS mature and therefore childlike.]
The same ambiguity about how to relate to BJDs as characters appears among BJD owners. Lots of them refer to the arrival of the doll as its "birthday," giving the impression that it was born recently and is therefore a young child. And then you even get a few people calling their BJDs [as the Volks Web site — "Choose what kind of daughter you would like to have" — encourages] their kids. That’s just too weird for me.
The overwhelming majority of BJD owners put their BJDs’ ages in the mid- to late teens and have them act selfish, willful, mischievous — like very stereotypical teenagers. BJD owners also usually sexualize their dolls with fetish wear, shirtless modelling and/or photostories about lust, infatuation and sex. Since the dolls are objects and they are frequently endowed with sexual meanings, I think they’re sex objects.
Here is my problem — it’s a child-shaped sex object. I don’t care if you say that it houses a teenaged character. It’s still a child-shaped sex object that exaggerates and stylizes the youth-like features of the object [big eyes, "pure skin" — actually a type of Volks resin for the BJDs, lack of secondary sex characteristics], so that the youth-like features become salient and attractive. There’s a pederastic tinge to BJD ownership when I think of it this way.
I love the ambiguity of the dolls, even though it makes me uncomfortable. They have human-like shapes, but their huge eyes and overall small size make them seem like stereotypical faeries or some sort of non-human creatures. Due to purposely ill-defined sex characteristics, they look very ambiguous and androgynous. Their pre- to post-adolescent age range somehow unfixes them from the aging process so they seem outside of time or age, therefore assignable to any time or age one wants to assign them to.