Photo: Rebecca Martinez
The photo above, taken by photographer Rebecca Martinez, is of a baby shower in St. Louis, with games and gifts you'd typically find in such gathering, with one big exception: the honored babies aren't real.
For her photography series PreTenders, Rebecca, who never had any children of her own, explored the growing Reborn subculture, a group of predominantly women who collect lifelike dolls of newborn babies and treat them as if they were real:
When Ms. Martinez travels, she will sometimes bring one of her own five reborn dolls to photograph people’s reactions. She prefers to carry them in open bags because she feels uneasy putting them into closed containers, and her suitcases are always searched by airport security if a doll shows up in a scan. This leads to unusual encounters — like when other people in line get upset thinking that a real baby is about to be harmed by X-rays as they pass through security.
“These dolls are very powerful objects,” she said. “If I bring one of these dolls out, there’ll be a group of people around me very, very fast. They soon know it’s not real, but people have very strong reactions. I’ve seen people who will hold them, and their bodies will start responding and they’ll be rocking them. And then they realize and feel a little embarrassed.”
James Estrin of The New York Times' LENS blog has the story: Link