The most distinguishing feature of Blythe Dolls is the remarkable dimensions of their faces. In this post, we’re going to look at the idea of cuteness and explain why Blythe Dolls look the way they do and why they elicit that unmistakable “awwww” response in us.
Ethology is the study of animal behavior, with particular reference to the force of evolution. That is, why animals, including humans, do what they do and why they have developed these behaviors and traits in order to survive and propagate their species.
One of the founders of this field and Nobel Prize winner, Konrad Lorenz, defined the concept of cuteness from a scientific perspective in 1950. He did this by noting that the features of immature animals evoke feelings of tenderness within us. This is nature’s way of causing a reflex response in mothers in order to make them care for their offspring and not commit infanticide under the often extreme strains of the struggle for survival. Lorenz conducted measurements of baby animals, noting that a large head, forehead, and eyes combined with small snout, jaw, body, and limbs were the heightened ratios of facial dimensions involved.
Sound familiar? Blythe Dolls are designed as the epitome of this cuteness ratio. That’s the thing about cuteness, it creates empathy, and empathy is at the center of what makes us human. The place where empathy is strongest is in how we feel about our own children and cuteness is the trigger for this empathy.
“Humans feel affection for animals with juvenile features: large eyes, bulging craniums, retreating chins (left column). Small-eyed, long-snouted animals (right column) do not elicit the same response.” —Konrad Lorenz
Japanese pop culture has enshrined this idea of cuteness with the “kawaii” aesthetic, which we see in cartoons, anime and famously manifested in Hello Kitty, Pokemon and creations like the Powerpuff Girls, all of which share these traits with Blythe.
Note that the word “kawaii” derives from the word for dazzling, bright and glowing – the type of blushing glow we get when we’re suddenly struck by powerful and overwhelming feelings like love and shame, joy and pride. Remember the post we covered on the origin of the word “blythe”? There we saw how “blythe” or “blithe” is cognate with “bright light” and “fire” in the Old European languages and the Sanskrit for “splendor”. Thus it seems that objects of wonder, awe, radiant beauty and cuteness are truly connected and universal.
It is also for these reasons that we see the evolution of Mickey Mouse into a delightful character with a smaller cranium, huge eyes and an altogether far more loveable personality as he became refined into a global icon symbolizing a multi-billion dollar industry built on empathy and family-oriented values.
This universal appeal of cuteness is also why the giant panda has received such adoration globally compared to other endangered animals and why from a commercial perspective it was perfect as the unmistakable emblem of the World Wildlife Fund.
Cuteness, it’s clear, brings big advantages to those who possess its traits. This is why Blythe Dolls are so photogenic and this is why people will always be fascinated with buying and collecting beautiful Blythes for generations to come.
The warmth, empathy and sympathy they radiate are eternal and only that of a true friend.
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