Dora Maar, “Model in the window”, Paris, 1933

Have you notice that dolls often become tired of girls? It’s, as if, they feel that the girls’ real interest is not them, their dolls (whom they restlessly dress-undress and do-undo their hair, etc.), but… the men of their future. So, the girls’ dolls got the desire to look like dollishly beautiful women. A doll – an archaic pre-robotic robot “understood” that to pretend being a woman means to attract attention of men’s gazes – to become from being a thing to being somebody. For a doll to look like a woman means to be desired, even if men’s desiring gaze ephemeral, superficial and not serious. For the doll to look like a woman means to be a tiny bit like a woman, to be noticed and to be touched not by chaotic and indifferent girlish hands but by the heavy men’s fingers.

Doll-woman attractiveness is concentrated on her smooth face and warm neck, on her shoulders like a cool silk and on her generous breasts. Men who’re attracted to doll-women are really less interested in women’s lower body than in their “appearance” – their face and bust. Dolls are instinctive models – they can be used as doll-women, doll-mannequins, doll-facades – dolls wearing woman’s appearance as men do thick gloves, mustache or necktie.

Yes, dolls come to men through girls, as girls come to men through dolls. What a difference with the destiny of a teddy bear in the boy’s shy-passionate hands! Teddy bear for boys from the beginning is a partial object, not a model of the future man. While a girl looking at her doll learns to see in the doll her own dreamlike and victorious feminine future, for the boy his teddy bear is his psychological dead end. For the girl her doll is hypothetical, approximate, crude version of her future, but for the boy his teddy bear is at best a caricature on his future manliness – a completely negative futuristic statement.


Dora Maar, “Model in the window 2”, Paris, 1933

But why can a woman have the desire to look like a doll – to pretend in front of men’s even quick (unconscious) gaze to be a doll? In the second photograph of already not a doll-woman, but of a woman-doll Dora Maar in her theater of mystification shows not a doll faking to be a woman, but a woman pretending that she is a doll, although the very doll-ness here has changed its aesthetic parameters. Now, doll-ness (as a model for a woman) is not an attempt of a doll to become more seductive – more human for a male gaze, but to the contrary – woman needs to look like a doll-boss and doll-power. Doll-ness here is a metaphor of toughness, strictness and hardness – of power.

In this photograph the woman-doll (as the opposite of doll-woman) looks like a person in charge, as someone responsible for maintaining order in the area, who can be perceived as watching around with the intention to detect any kind of disorder and noise which can undermine the logic of domestic rules and regulations. Here, woman-doll is the guardian of routine life in the courtyard. Look, how masterfully she is showing herself – presiding with her imposing physicality over the windows, balconies and public and commercial ads. Strong woman-doll is proud of her body because of its domineering presence in the yard.

Doll-women’s sexuality is fake but around them the men prone to be attracted to their particularity will feel almost erotic trembling of an invisible butterfly’s wings, while woman-doll‘s “negative” appeal is that of the ability to put men into a position of a child. The woman-doll’s appeal is sado-masochistic one. Her dollish rigidity (reflecting the crudeness of her body) is perceived by the local “bums” as “despotic ugliness”. But men with the woman-mother complex will be able to reach with woman-doll even sexual satisfaction. Some men are able to enjoy happy experiences with both kind, doll-women and women-dolls, because in both cases the common denominator of emotional experience is doll-ness – doll’s rigidity stabilizes the relationships when human personalities are not involved or are under-involved.

Cosmetic, fitness and beauty industries have been built on the paradox that doll-women are attractive by the upper part of their bodies – beautiful face, neck and breast (Dora Maar even leaves out/cuts the lower part of her doll-woman in the first photograph). Men who are obsessed with doll-women like to demonstrate to other men their sexual victories, which for them are like social achievement. On the other side, men who are attracted to the women-dolls are psychologically need “maternal” emotional support. It’s not by chance that Maar makes the woman-doll exceptionally tall – motherly presence or absence are of absolute importance for the child and for emotionally dependent men.

*Of course, in Maar’s two photographs above the both “models” are dolls used by the artist metaphorically as figures helping her to explain to us the difference between the two types of women in need of men’s attentive gaze. Doll-ness is used by Maar as a semantic artistic tool helping her to characterize men-women emotional attraction.