In the Doll’s Workshop

In the doll’s workshop

I was a girl back in the late 70s and early 80s. I loved dolls. As a child I played with the Barriguitas, which were small and chubby. I loved the Nenucos (who threw little bubbles out of the mouth when you squeezed the arm) and the life-sized babies that if you took the pacifier, would cry. Did you  have one of these?  My brother used to tease me by taking away the doll’s pacifier to make it cry. I was so sorry for the doll's crying that I began to cry inconsolably as well. But the dolls that I liked the most were the Nancys. They were my favorites. What dolls were your favorites? The Nancys were beautiful, with a feminine body but without impossible measures, a pretty face but without sensual makeup.

A couple of years ago I realized, through Facebook, that the buying and selling of Nancy dolls was booming. I had a few collectible dolls that my husband Joel had given me. They were reissues reminiscent of old dolls from the 1970s and 1980s. My Nancys were worth more than they cost when Joel bought them for me. Their price had doubled. The ones that cost the most were the oldest originals. Her age was known from details such as the name "Famosa" appearing written on the nape of her neck. Then there were some more valuable types of eyes that were called "daisy type." They were beautiful eyes, with a special color and pattern. If you exchanged a low-value Nancy for a “margarita type”, you could sell her for 50 euros more. Little by little, without realizing it, I got into the business. First I bought some that I liked, but I ran out of money for something so expensive. So I convinced the family not to buy gifts separately for my birthday, but to collect the money so that I could buy a beautiful black Nancy with curls that I loved! The next step was that I sold a Nancy of mine and with that money I bought another that I knew was very cheap and that I was going to be able to sell for double or more. I had a hard time deciding which doll to get rid of because they were all beautiful!

Then I realized that some people bought dirty, defective, or broken Nancys, fixed and repaired them, and then sold them for much more. I convinced Joel, who is a little handyman, to help me fix Nancys. I bought them with broken legs or arms, torn bodies, sunken eyes, no eyelashes, pen-painted, tinted, with damaged and dirty hair, etc. It was a shame to see them. Joel glued them with a special glue. I washed them, added softener, perfumed and dressed in new and colorful clothes. The transformation was total! I was very pleased to see the result. So I kept them for a few months in the showcase, I combed them from time to time, I changed their clothes, I enjoyed them. Then I sold them for much more value and made the person who bought them very happy. There are many loose geeks in the world! Other people collect stamps, snakes or seashells from the beach and nobody tells them anything!

Thinking of people who are survivors of abuse, one of the things we have in common is low self-esteem. We feel that we are of little value. When they do to you what they do to you as a child, the message you receive is that you do not deserve to be loved, you are not worth enough. If you were of value, they wouldn't have done what they did to you. It is like those broken, crippled, damaged Nancys, stained by carelessness and aggression. At first glance they were hardly worth anything. That's why the people who sold them made it so cheap. They were not aware of its value! They did not understand that if they put famous writing on the nape of the  neck, she had fat ankles and daisy eyes, that they could sell it for 300 or 400 euros! However they sold it for 150 and some people who had no idea sold it for 50 euros! All the doll needed was a facelift and grooming. Some repairs required a lot of patience and finesse. They were a little more complex. Joel used tweezers, glue, a heat gun and a lot of patience.

I bought them already knowing what their real value was. I had faith in what his true price was. Appearances did not deceive me because I knew the details that really determined its value. The word "human being" written on the nape of your neck says that you are invaluable. Your eyes make you unique and unrepeatable. They are like fingerprints, there is no one like you. And maybe you only see the breaks and stains. I was like that too. The abuse I suffered sowed in me the lie that I was ugly and of little value.

Then I met good people who believed in me, had faith in me and saw beyond my shortcomings, my ugliness, my broken character and my eyes sunken by sadness. Little by little they convinced me that the toy maker that I had made had not been mistaken but had made me a beautiful work of art. They invited me to enter their repair shops and with great delicacy, compassion and affection, they began the difficult task of repair. Over time, I also learned how to use the same tools and repair my wounds and over time, also from other people.

Let us not allow our tears and marks to prevent us from seeing with eyes of faith. Let us be humble and admit our need for reparation. Let's find other toys where we can see the scars from repairs and start the restoration dance.

Josephina and Joel de Bruine