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The World of eBay’s Haunted Dolls

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Geneseo chapter.

Trigger warnings for rape mentions and abortion, which is frankly something I thought I’d never have to write on an article about haunted dolls, but here we are.


The “metaphysical items” category on eBay has had an interesting history. Prior to 2012, eBay lacked strict limits on the types of items it allowed to go onto its online marketplace. If you were to reference their Terms of Service at the time, there was nothing requiring that items for sale had to be “items” in the physical sense. This resulted in an unintentional boom for metaphysical services in the eBay community – things that had to be believed in, rather than purchased and received in the flesh. There were waffle irons and necklaces up for grabs, but there were also pages worth of demons people could buy to haunt themselves, promises of love spells performed by trained witches, and opportunities to mentally connect with angels. The “product” being sold was the aftereffect of a ritual that the seller would supposedly go through to match what the name of the product was selling. Not surprisingly, eBay balked at the possibility of seller fraud (imagine that!) and overhauled their Terms of Service in 2012, forcing all marketplace sellers to, you know, actually sell items. Tarot readings, ouija seances and the summoning of crazy sex demons – seriously, there were so many listings to become possessed with the spirit of a horny ghost – all became a thing of eBay history (or really, moved to Etsy, which struggles with defining a firm ban on them to this day).


Still, the craze for a brush with the world beyond the veil didn’t die down. People were still turning to eBay for their spells and hauntings, somewhere that they had being going to for years. What was a seller to do, then? Some started to send their metaphysical readings physically in the mail as letters, thus making the “letter” the “product”. Some stopped using eBay altogether.


Others turned to the thrift store. Enter eBay’s haunted doll market.



(Again with the sex demons! Again with the sex demons!)


Turns out, there’s pages worth of dolls for sale on eBay that contain all sorts of hexes, disturbed spirits, and dead children for your purchasing pleasure. Since there’s a physical product involved, these listings are eBay-appropriate: though, each description disgruntedly reminds you that as per eBay’s policy, they are “forced” to tell you that the spirit is for roleplay purposes.


Some of the descriptions are very serious, invoking the use of all manners of “ghost detecting” equipment to prove the doll’s legitimacy. I’ve even seen some people use their live human children as “natural mediums” to give these things backstories.



Some doll descriptions read more like dating profiles, detailing the spirit’s likes and dislikes.



Others are so short that by the time you realize that you could lead a higher quality of life by not reading them, it’s too late.



And some of them just want to get the description over as quickly as possible so you’ll just give them their hard-earned cash.



A lot of the sellers, much like an online recipe for brownies that starts with the baker’s personal account of their failing marriage and hold you hostage before you can find out, like, how much canola oil to use or whatever, feel the need to detail their lives within the description of each doll before actually describing the doll. Sometimes, these are more interesting than the actual dolls.



My new career path is “orphan home for wayward spirits”.


Sometimes the titles are funnier than the actual dolls.




Something I find particularly head-scratching about these dolls is that many of their descriptions detail how unwilling the seller is to part from them: but through some pull of fate, such as moving or downsizing, they have to. The ethics of these seems dubious to me. If I am to believe that you are selling me the soul of a little girl who was electrocuted to death by her careless older sister, is it right to push her out of your house after she’s apparently adjusted – the sellers like to remind you that it takes a while for spirits to settle into a new home, so it might be some time until you see anything happen – just for the sake of a few bucks?



Thing is, there’s more than a few bucks at stake here. There’s a theme in these listings of hoisting off “problem” spirits, such as the description for a life-sized Raggedy Ann doll below. Does this sound like something you’d particularly like to invite into your home?


Now imagine paying over one hundred fifty dollars for this.



Some of these listings seem particularly insidious, perfectly poised to take advantage of all sorts of vulnerable populations. Take a look at the description of this Barbie doll – TW for rape mentions – that promises to protect rape victims.



Or this one that details – TW for abortion – a reality than many American women face in a nation hellbent on removing abortion access.



People are more than welcome to their beliefs. It’s not like I’m callous to the call of the metaphysical – I’ve been reading tarot for a few years now, after all. But as fun as these are to browse through, there’s something chilling about those last two descriptions. They’re laser-pointed directly at people who might have recently undergone trauma, a time in their lives where decision-making ability isn’t exactly functioning at its highest. And frankly, even after going through pages of these things for this article, that’s still the scariest thing about these listings, giving a new meaning to “buyer beware”.

What do you think about these dolls? A hoax, treacherous, or good simple fun? If you’ve got a few dollars to spare, there’s only one way to find out.


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Jessica Bansbach is a junior psychology major who has more campus club memberships than fingers and toes. In her spare time, if she's forgotten that she's a college student that has more pressing matters to attend to (like, say, studying), she enjoys video games, thrift shopping, and ruminating. She was elected "funniest in group" by her summer camp counselor when she was nine and has since spent the next eleven years trying to live up to the impossible weight of that title.