From Dolls to Disney, Gay Artist Advises “Don’t Stop Your Children From Exploring Their Imagination.”

by Jozef Szekeres

My heart sunk. Even back then I knew that this want of having a doll was wrong.

Hi there. My name is Jozef Szekeres and I’m from Sydney, Australia.

As a boy, I knew that I was a little bit different from the other boys and girls. Well, actually, probably I was more of the girls than the boys with my interest in dolls.

When I was six, my mother took me to see a Santa Claus at a shopping center. What I was seeing is all these kids in this huge line were waiting for Santa and they were coming away with the gifts that they wanted, that they asked for. When it was finally my time to go and speak with him and sit on his lap he said to me, you know, what is it that you would like to have for Christmas from me?

And I said, “Oh, I would really love to have a ballerina Barbie.”

And he actually said to me, “You know, maybe you’d like to have a boy toy, like a matchbox car or the like.”

My heart sunk. Even back then I knew that this want of having a doll was wrong. You know, I saw Santa, you know, he looking at my mother and my mother back at him, and this almost imperceptible sort of nod that she gave, but I knew it. I knew that sort of body language. So I read that, okay, she’s giving approval for something.

What Santa did after he gave a little bit of a small talk is he reached into this huge bag that he had, and he pulled out the beautiful ballerina Barbie. And I was so excited and overjoyed. I started crying. It was everything that I’d wanted.

From then on dolls were certainly a part of my life. My mother would purchase doll for me instead of cars now. Over that sort of time from six to about 13, I think I had about something like 25 Barbie dolls.

My father, he was supportive of this interest in dolls. I knew that he was supportive because I remember breaking one of my doll’s necks with a crack and a piece came off and I was devastated. I took it to my father and my father is a very good handyman. And he epoxy glued the parts together. It was a bit sort of janky, but it still looked wonderful. And I absolutely loved the doll and I loved that he repaired it for me.

But he was still my dad and he still had his ways. And he was like, Okay, when you are 13, that’s it. So I had to give them away to a girl down the street and she looked through it and she was like, “Not everything’s here! Where’s the rest?” And what I had done is I had grabbed four of my favorites, one of them being the one my dad fixed, and a few choice sort of furniture pieces. And I created, like, this little one bedroom apartment in an open cupboard. But yeah, this little girl was like, “Where’s the rest?” And I said, “Well, you’re not getting anymore. Take off! I never want to see you again.” And I never did.

Also at the age of six, I saw my very first animated feature film at the cinema with my mother. And that was Sleeping Beauty. I knew as a boy when I saw that for the first time, that I want to animate for Disney. I didn’t know what that meant really, but I just looked at it and I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do. It was a natural sort of thing for me from playing with dolls to start drawing feminine characters. So I became an animator with Disney and it was life changing.

I think in the first week or something that I was at the job I went with a few of them to the toy shop for lunch. One of the ladies there was walking through the Barbie aisle. She was like, oh, I think I’ll buy that Barbie. And I’m like, and I thought, Hey, hold on. I want a Barbie too. Cause I have my own money that I’ve earned and I no longer have the restriction of what it is that I could buy. And I was, I guess with a very artsy crowd, working at Disney, I felt in a really welcome, comfortable zone with these people. And I purchased this doll and that sort of started it all again. Oh my God.

So I worked on The Little Mermaid II, Return to the Sea. I worked on both of the Aladdin sequels, and I’d have my dolls on my desk kind of like what I have now. And yeah, so I was known as the go to guy for feminine characters to make them read with femininity. And when I left Disney, I still did lots of artworks that focused on female characters.

So today what I do is I make my own fashion doll line, and this is them here. These are the GlamourOz dolls. I sculpted them from scratch, but you know, trying to get the right sort of balance of the ratios and the proportions, that all of course is my own stylization, but I was very well informed from my experience of working at Disney.

Don’t stop your children from exploring their imagination because that imagination at a young age, absolutely crucial to form the child’s love of things that will resonate from childhood right through to adulthood, allow your children to find the magic in themselves, by engaging with the magic that they find out in the world.

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