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Real Dolls

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Stahl-family-photo-late-1800s

Family from the 1800s

The other day I found a photograph dating back to the 1800s. It was a photograph of some of my relatives who lived back then. They were a middle-class family.

This got me wondering, why is that in all photographs from that time do people look so unhappy, emotionless, lifeless, and empty? Now I bet some of you are thinking, "Oh, that's because photographs took a long time to take." Well yes they did, but you're missing one small detail. It was very expensive to get a picture taken back then, so it was mostly the upper class that got their pictures taken.

So, why is that there are a good amount of photos of middle-class families and individuals from back then? Well, you see, what would happen is once you died they would dress you up and make you look nice. This was done typically before rigor mortis set in. This was done so they could pose you like you would a doll. They then would take a photograph of you, and once that was done they would ship you off to be buried.

So back to the question at hand, why is it that in old photographs people look so unhappy, emotionless, hollow, and lifeless? Well, that's because they were lifeless. By the time those photographs were taken, they were already dead.

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