Warsaw, Poland – Polish artist and doll designer Barbara Smolińska, whose hyper-realistic “reborn” dolls help women process a miscarriage or the loss of a child, has been named on BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2021.
A former musician, Barbara Smolińska has professional training in cosmetology. Her company, Reborn Sugar Babies, creates life-like baby dolls used as therapeutic aids to help women deal with various mental-health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as fertility issues.
“I can’t even imagine this has happened,” says Barbara Smolińska. “It’s just an abstraction, and I keep asking myself what I did to deserve such a huge award. I’m just touched and happy, and I don’t know what to say. I’m filled with immense happiness.”
Her handmade dolls were initially used in films and to train doctors, nurses and midwives in medical institutions before being increasingly used for therapeutic purposes.
Customers can now customise their doll by adding moles, scratches or birthmarks, and even ask for doll with a heartbeat mechanism.
“I would like people to become more empathetic, more open and tolerant of what is different, as is the case with the reborn dolls therapy, which can help so many women,” she says.
Since being featured on the BBC list, interest in and demand for her dolls has risen, reports Notes from Poland.
“It’s like a bomb went off since Tuesday. I just can’t get off the phone because people from abroad write and ask about the dolls, and I think this will also open doors for me on the foreign market,” she says.
This year’s 100 Women list highlights women who are playing their part to reinvent our society, our culture and our world. Among them are Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Samoa’s first female prime minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, Professor Heidi J Larson, who heads The Vaccine Confidence Project, and acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
With the resurgence of the Taliban in August 2021, women from Afghanistan make up half of this year’s list, some of whom appear under pseudonyms and without photos for their own safety.