Dolls are a symbol that show up a lot in my writing. I have always fascinated with them, ever since childhood. Not only traditional dolls, but also stuffed animals, or any toy designed to be a surrogate friend. I can clearly remember many trips to the toy store and choosing a new one. It was never a difficult process. There was always one that spoke louder than the others. Because that's the thing about dolls, looking at them with the right pair of eyes, it's impossible not to see them as something waiting to be given a life.
I can understand the objection to dolls in regards to gender roles, etc. But I suppose being of the opposite intended gender, it's easier for me to be detached from those objections. For me, I've always seen dolls as a child's first attempt at creating an imaginary life. A doll is never really looked upon as a toy, it's always something more. They are given names, personalities, likes and dislikes. You see children talking to them as if holding a conversation with something living. In many ways, the relationship between owner and doll is similar to an author and character. I know that I personally made up hundreds of stories for my troop. I can also remember never thinking about their responses while conversing. These created personalities take on a life of their own...again, much like characters during the writing process. I wonder if this is a common experience of writers' childhoods or if (as usual) I'm just odd.
Of course, I've always believed that things created in the imagination are not completely imaginary...that they exist in some other level of reality independent of the creator. Perhaps this is why I still collect such toys. There are still certain ones I see in a store with a look pleading to be liberated.