But as they walked around on Aug. 22, Briar was not interested in tutus and tiaras. Instead, she had her sights set on a demonic-looking doll. Once she locked eyes with the “Creepy Baby Doll,” she decided she wanted it to be hers.
“I have to have it, Mommy,” Briar begged her mother, who tried to redirect her daughter to toys that did not appear possessed.
But Briar told her: “It needs me.”
“I’ve never been one for creepiness,” she said. “I’m not into gory stuff.”
The baby doll’s skin looks ruptured, and its eyes are black and hollowed — though they light up red with the push of a button. The doll also giggles on command.
“It’s a dark, evil laugh,” Beard said. “It definitely is the creepiest toy I’ve ever seen.”
But her daughter hugged the strange doll and said she felt connected to it. Beard said she wanted to respect her daughter’s taste, even if it was the opposite of her own. She bought it, then quickly regretted the purchase.
“I had no idea that Briar would be so obsessed with it that she had to take it everywhere,” Beard said.
Briar named the baby “Chloe,” which Beard changed to “Creepy Chloe.” (It was more fitting for the disturbing doll, she decided.)
Anywhere Briar goes, Creepy Chloe goes, too. Although Briar has no shortage of other dolls, “she never really loved anything until Creepy Chloe came along,” her mother said.
“People stare, and then I, of course, get awkward and feel like I have to explain myself,” Beard said.
Onlookers have generally found it sweet — and even adorable. On Aug. 25, Beard took her daughter to Disney World, and naturally, Creepy Chloe came along. Beard decided to dress her daughter in a Haunted Mansion cast member costume to make her doll seem less out of place. Creepy Chloe wore a princess dress.
“I thought it was appropriate,” said Beard, who runs a nonprofit called Unicorn Hugswhich supports sick children by introducing them to horses dressed as unicorns.
Although Beard figured people might be surprised — and maybe even frightened — by her daughter’s doll, the last thing she expected was for strangers to swoon over it.
As they ate breakfast at the Grand Floridian Cafethe pastry chef — who is apparently a Halloween enthusiast — made Briar a special spooky cupcake and a chocolate placard for the Haunted Mansion.
“She was just gushing,” Beard said of the pastry chef. “We were blown away.”
After breakfast, they went to the Haunted Mansion — a popular attraction at the Magic Kingdom park — where tourists and staff “just lost their minds over her,” Beard said, adding that they were also invited to go backstage to explore the “secret” servants’ quarters. Briar “was just beaming.”
After their time at Disney World, Beard shared her daughter’s unusual doll on Facebook, thinking friends and family might get a kick out of it.
“This is what it looks like when you take your 3 year old to the Spirit Halloween store and she absolutely insists on buying the creepiest baby doll you’ve ever set eyes on,” she wrote in a postbefore detailing their day at Disney.
“Creepy Chloe might be stealing my soul while I sleep, but we are making the best of our time left over here!” she continued.
Again, to Beard’s amazement, people were charmed by the terrifying toy. Her post — which featured several pictures of Briar with her beloved doll — was shared more than 13,000 times. Given the reaction, Beard created an Instagram account to showcase Briar and Creepy Chloe’s continued adventures.
Briar was also featured on Today.comand Beard said the flurry of attention has been overwhelming but fun for the family.
“I just thought it was a funny story. I certainly did not expect what has happened,” Beard said. “It’s completely snowballed into this huge thing.”
Since Creepy Chloe came into their lives, Briar hasn’t let the doll leave her side.
“They’re inseparable,” said Beard, adding that Briar dresses Creepy Chloe daily in doll apparel, and tries to match their outfits as best she can. “Much to my dismay, she sleeps right next to her.”
Spirit Halloween stumbled upon Beard’s post, and “instantly fell in love with the story,” Nikki Balles, corporate director of PR and communications at Spirit Halloween, wrote in an email to The Washington Post.
“This touching story is everything Spirit Halloween loves about the season,” said Balles, who mailed Briar another doll to add to her creepy collection. “We thought Chloe could use another friend, so we put together a fun play date for her.”
Although Beard was initially horrified by her daughter’s dark taste in dolls, she is coming to appreciate all that Creepy Chloe has to offer. And she’s been touched by how strangers are appreciating her daughter’s unusual choices.
“My husband said we should encourage it, because Creepy Chloe is different, and maybe there’s a life lesson: You should love everybody, no matter what they look like,” Beard said. “This is a good thing to teach the girls.”
Still, “I’m worried that with all this newfound fame, this was Creepy Chloe’s plan all along for world domination,” Beard joked. “She’s just using Briar and her power of cuteness to get a foothold.”