Take a few seconds to reminisce about your childhood "best friend." Maybe it was a boy, a girl, an imaginary friend, or perhaps a stuffed toy. This stuffed toy was your childhood confidant that you dragged everywhere, from the local supermarket to the preschool sandbox, a transitional object that temporarily stood between you and your relationship with your parents.
If you still have your stuffed toy, has it managed to maintain its shape, color, and loveable button eyes, despite numerous indignities? Or has it endured frequent trips to the stuffed animal hospital, otherwise known as the washroom and the sewing machine? Why do you still hold onto this friend from your childhood?
Our relationship with stuffed toys is a subject of curiosity. While they make act as a child's first companion by contributing to life's teachings, is there an age that children need to let go of their stuffed friends? Some adults continue to hold onto their stuffed animals, either for comfort or retention of their childhood memories, but is there an attached stigma with these comfort objects?
This hour, we focus on the allure of these transitional objects, why we continue to hold onto them, and how they are helpful in overcoming trauma. We also speak with a "travel agent" who journeys around Japan to provide stuffed animals with a truly cultural experience.
- Mark Nixon is the author and photographer of Much Loved, a photographic novel that features the loved bits of stuffed animals, as well as their owners' stories and memories
- Catherine Pisacane is the founder and Executive Director of Project Smile, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing emergency responders with stuffed toys to help children who are victims of traumatic events
- Sonoe Azuma is the founder and CEO of Unagi Travel, a travel agency for stuffed toys that is based in Japan
This show was produced by Katherine Peikes.