I have always loved cute fluffy things, for as long as I can remember. Both to wear and to surround myself with. When I was around 5 or 6 my mother got me this beautiful little light-blue bolero-vest made out of Angora and I died for it. I wish I could still fit into it, but 16 years later down the road my figure begs to differ. My mother would tell me stories about how I would not fall asleep if she held me as a baby, I would only drift off to dreamland on top of this little lambskin that became mine and I had for the longest time to sleep on. And then… the stuffed animals. I can’t even begin. So todays ridiculous rant is dedicated to our childishly adorable friends; the stuffed animals.
The first cut is the deepest.
My first stuffed animal is definitely my favourite. Not because I remember always having it or because it got me through some hard times by being a shoulder to cry on, but because it was the first. If anyone who reads this is familiar with Beatrix Potter, the wonderful children’s book writer and illustrator, you might also remember Jemima the duck. She was always so dignified in her little blue hat and pink scarf, wagging back and forth in a leisurely strut. She was my very first stuffed animal and so not only is there nostalgia, but it is also a very grand stuffed animal, one that is based on a good story and with some proper British etiquette in her back-feathers. I don’t think anyone will ever really truly forget about their first little cuddly stuffed animal friend.
Army of loyal followers.
Maybe it was just that I was a weird kid. But I sort of had a personal relationship with all my stuffed animals, from the white tiger my size to the tiny little hedgehog and white mouse. They had their own personalities and depending on my mood I would “talk” to a different one each time. Of course going to bed became tricky business; it was election time, and only a few could come with. I always felt bad for the ones left on the cold hard shelf but I had to make my Sophie’s choice, because a bed is only so big. They brought me comfort and protected me against evil monsters and spirits in the night. And when it’s cold out a stuffed animal friend gives you almost as good a warmth as the real pet alternative.
Blank glassy eyes, maniacal smiles… why are they so adorable?
Why do we (I) like stuffed animals? Come to think of it, most of them are rather creepy-looking. With tags in strange places, the odd seam ripped and horrifying facial expressions they’re not all that cute and reassuring. I firmly believe that it is only because of their strong resemblance to the actual animal that children are inclined to like them so much. You just have to watch Coraline to realize that button eyes are far from trustworthy and just because someone appears to smile they might be quite rotten on the inside. Sure, I had the occasional animal that got to be on the “bad” side, and were frequently defeated in the little toy-wars that me and my siblings frequently held on the sea of our bedroom floor.
The moral of the story.
I firmly believe that the reason we grow to love our stuffed animals so much is that every little boy and girl has some kind of built-in maternal/paternal instinct, and these little fuzzy objects are a gateway into social life and adulthood. In the books by A.A Milne, Winnie the Pooh is not only loved by Christopher Robin but also by all the fascinated followers of what later turned into a Disney-show. There are old movies that show the characters as their stuffed and lifeless counterparts, but in the fantasy-world of this little boy they become his best friends and companions on great adventures. And they all lead their own lives with their own personalities. Becoming attached to something that is truly an object doesn’t mean you’re incapable of making real life friends or that there is something wrong with you; it’s just a sign of a healthy imagination and a strong affinity for empathy and love.