Dolls, Teddies and Transitional Objects: Some Images of Transient Attachments

Looking through my late father’s old photos I came across some vintage studio postcard images of extended family members that caught my eye. I liked the props – the doll and soft toy:

Again from my father’s collection here’s a photo I really like of my first cousin Ruth – dating approximately from the mid 1950s it is a candid picture of her and her affection for the doll:

Next are some scans of photographs I’ve taken of my sons when they were toddlers with their favourite soft toys. Here’s Dan and his bunny rabbit at an airport lounge circa 1994:

Dan before his appendix operation at the Whittington Hospital – the rabbit is just seen, supine on the hospital bed:

Rafi with toy sword and teddy, on a hot day in Tel Aviv, 1993:

I don’t remember being particularly attached to a soft toy as a baby or toddler. I do remember loving dolls though and was a big fan of Sindy and Tressy – never Barbie – collecting all their clothes and accessories until I gave them all away in one fell swoop in a fit of feeling grown up, at about the age of eleven. However, looking through my own pink baby book, with photos mainly  taken by my late father, I notice my attachment to a pink handbag – I believe it was a gift from an American relative. I am between the ages of 3 and 4 and attached to this handbag to the point that I multitask with it. It is a part of me, and present even when riding my tricycle.

Clutching my bag close to me. Outside our home in Stamford Hill, my Bibi (farsi from grandma) and my mum dressed in their Persian lamb coats:

Feeding the birds in Trafalgar Square on a summer’s day:

Action photo! Tricycle ride in the safety of the front courtyard complete with pink handbag:

Next are a couple of street images involving soft toys. I like the quasi-theatrical tableau of soft toys displayed on this passing vehicle, seen in New York last May:

And in Muswell HillI, back in 2009,  I came across a man called Paul, with his collection of soft toys. I was struck by the tenderness he communicated::

Soft toys and dolls are considered transitional objects, but what if you are still attached to them as an adult? Here’s my friend Jacqui with her beloved soft toy. The image was part of a project I did in the early 90s on identity fusing past with present:

And recently I accompanied my friend Jodie to a medical appointment. I found out that Jodie had also brought her beloved childhood doll Emma to the clinic. I love the contrast between the sophisticated woman in her black lace lingerie and the display of child-like vulnerability and attachment :

Walking down Old Compton Street in Soho one evening I saw a man wearing teddy bear trainers and asked whether I could take his photo. There was something familiar about the man – he could almost be a related to the unknown boy in the old family photograph:

If anyone can name the boy in the second photograph do let me know!  The girl with the doll is Sheila Ebrahimian, now residing in the USA and daughter of the late Faizulla & Devorah Aminoff, and the boy is possibly a member of the Nurieli family.


Also published on Medium.

4 thoughts on “Dolls, Teddies and Transitional Objects: Some Images of Transient Attachments”

  1. Great pics, Mish.
    Your adored pink handbag was brought back from New York by Bibi and Baba, who went there (by boat) on holiday.

    Reply
    • Thank you , and that’s so good to know about Bibi and Baba! It makes even more sense now as to why I was so attached to the bag.

      Reply

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