Between the moment that one scrolls through the online stores specializing in sex dolls and the one that they find a child-like replica of a human being, there is a huge emotional hurdle that needs to be crossed. For me personally, it was initially an experience without any feeling; I just wanted to find out why would someone need such an item. But, as I kept reading about the reasons some design and buy these dolls and saw the pictures, all the feelings came pouring like a waterfall.

I couldn’t help but ask myself why would anyone design something that looks so much like a child? Wouldn’t it be offensive to unknowing passers-by and onlookers to look at something that looks like a child? Being a biologist, I was already familiar with the concept of anthropomorphism, which is basically the attribution of human form or behaviour to non-human creatures. With such an understanding, I thought for sex toys a moment that maybe this particular development in sex dolls was also a consequence of the process.

So, why do some sex dolls look like children? It is not a simple answer and the truth is since the beginning of the sex-doll industry in Japan, dolls taking on the appearance of both adults and children have been seen. In the context of people who design or buy these dolls, a few motivations are thought of. Some might want an innocent looking being for asexual activities, like a cuddling doll. Others might have a need for companionship, or find the dolls therapeutic. Some might even find a sense of emotional comfort through particular doll designs.

Furthermore, there is also the argument that these dolls act as a repellent towards real-life pedophilia; a hypothesis backed by some people who buy such dolls. Some say that through owning a child-like doll, pedophilic tendencies are not acted upon in life, as it is easier to satisfy their needs through the doll. Thus, some hope that such dolls will serve as an outlet for those struggling with such desires and at the same time make a ban on actual physical activities involving children more effective.

All of these possible motivations could be right or wrong, and due to this, I believe it is important that a discussion by experts in the field with the wider public takes place. For many, it might be hard to accept the existence of a doll which looks like a child, but for some it might also be a way to aid them towards getting rid of such desires and understanding the ethical problem that exists in this. Until a conclusion is arrived upon after such a discussion, we must remain open-minded and continue to have the conversation.

In an attempt to further understand the implications of child-like sex dolls, I was on a quest to explore them further. In my travels, I stumbled upon numerous other controversial topics. I found that sometimes sex dolls were custom-made and the customization was made to the buyer’s own preferences, and sometimes even to pay homage to lost loves or particular fetishes. Recently, there has also been a rise in air dolls, which are basically dolls pumped up with air. But one thing that seemed to stay constant was the child-like appearance of some of the dolls.

In my digging further, I encountered a serious debate about the morality of such appreciation and some people raised valid points such as the reinforcement of child exploitation or ideas about children. I came to understand that there needed to be continued dialog about the ethics and the imposed regulations surrounding the topic.

As I came to this ultimate conclusion, I found out that the controversy stayed and that even though the sex doll industry seemed to be booming in 2018, the intricate topics such as this one remained unresolved. In the end, what it all boils down to is a question of personal moral acceptance versus the “larger situation”. It is a difficult choice to make and every individual carries a very exclusive criterion on this matter