I’m not sure what I expected a collector of hyper-realistic baby dolls to look like, but Kellie Eldred isn’t it. On the frigid midwinter morning that I arrive at her Ithaca, New York, home, she greets me brightly in leggings and a cropped sweatshirt branded with the logo of a local Pilates studio. Her ink-black hair is pulled into a pert bun behind the most perfectly straight bangs I’ve ever seen. She just finished working out, she tells me, as she leads me past her husband and a trio of friendly spaniels into a spotless kitchen. A squeaky toy appears at my feet; its four-legged owner barks for a reaction.

“Please,” Eldred scolds the spaniel. To me, apologetically, she says: “She’s just a little crazy.”

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