The Lonesome Doll is an ongoing project by photographer Aline Smithson that follows a doll as he searches for the meaning of life. It's a project that began when she discovered an odd-looking doll, created in the 1970s, that didn't seem to fit with other toys.
Smithson explained: "He was too adult to be of comfort to children, too severe-looking to fit with toys and teddy bears, and had too much character to be ignored. Seven years ago, I began to photograph this doll in juxtaposition to childhood pursuits, thinking of him as an everyman (or every child) who was discovering his place in the world, and more importantly, discovering the idea that one can’t truly love others until one learns to love oneself.
"There is something haunting about this doll—he has incredible dignity, yet expresses sadness and loneliness that feels almost human. I began to see him as a symbol for those who don’t quite fit in, live a lonely life, but continually search to find a connection to the world. He exudes pride when the object of ridicule, struggles to find in his place in an undefined world: he’s a man, not a boy; too real for the other toys and too strange to be loved by a child. But when he finds himself (in this case, other dolls that look like him), the world opens up and he realises that happiness is right in front of him."
Smithson adds: "As a mother and champion of the overlooked and the innocent, I see the importance of telling universal stories that remind us of our humanity and our heart."