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I’m ashamed of my ‘childish’ hobby

A WOMAN who has spent almost £5,000 on cuddly toys in a year says this is how she bonds with her husband.

Damali Araceli Gutierrez, 21, and her partner, Cuitlahuac Cervantes, 22, are both obsessed with stuffed animals that come in all shapes and sizes, also known as cuddly toys.

Online trolls say Damali’s hobby of collecting soft toys for children is ‘childish’Credit: Jam Press/@moremallows4mee
She says it helps her and her husband’s bond and they spend a fortune together buying new SquishmallowsCredit: Jam Press/@moremallows4mee
Trolls are shocked by the amount of soft toys Damali has collected in her bedroomCredit: Jam Press/@moremallows4mee

They share their home with 650 Squishmallows – a special kind of toy from Kelly Toys – and bond by going shopping for them together.

She says people call her hobby “childish,” but it has given her a sense of “community.”

The couple currently keeps the toys in the bedroom, but are in the process of moving and plan to create a special room just for them.

“It’s always been a way for me and my husband to bond,” explains Damali from California, USA.

“We go shopping together – or ‘squish hunting’ – and look forward to new releases.

“I collect them because I think they are cute and because I have found a sense of community.

“I get a lot of criticism because people think it’s childish, but I’m an adult with adult money and I can buy whatever I want.”

Damali and her husband have been collecting the stuffed animals for about a year.

She shares their impressive harvest on Instagram (@moremallows4mee) with one of her recent videos receiving 49,000 likes and 1.1 million views.

The content creator said: “I got most of it from my husband, family and friends, but I’d say I spent around £4,790.

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“My family finds it impressive that I have collected so many in one year.”

The cuddly toy lover says she only buys cuddly toys that she really likes, but she does have a secret favorite: Amelie.

Damali said: “Every time I see that (toy), I want to get it again and again and again.

“It’s strawberry milk and I just think it’s so cute.”

Despite eagerly sharing her passion for toys, many social media users disagree with the unconventional hobby.

What to pay attention to when buying toys online

Recent research from the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) found that 60% of toys sold through third-party sellers on online marketplaces had serious safety issues when they tested them. Shockingly, 86% of sales in Britain were illegal.

  • Authenticity of the seller: Check seller rankings and what other buyers have to say.
  • Fake reviews: It’s easy to fake positive reviews, so check for negative reviews on different websites; to make sure the toy is safe and worth the retail price.
  • Avoid deals that seem too good to be true: If a deal looks too much like a bargain, it may be of poor quality or counterfeit. If you’re looking for a deal, go to retailers you know
  • Check for errors in the listing: Is everything spelled correctly, including the name? Are age warnings visible when required by law? If the toy is from a well-known brand or one of this year’s bestsellers, does the logo, name and toy match the advertisements you’ve seen elsewhere?
  • Is the item safe: Unsecured connected toys can pose a hacking risk, and battery-powered toys without screw bottoms pose the risk of children swallowing batteries, which can be fatal.
  • Make sure the trader has a UK address: The identity and address of each retailer or trader must be displayed on its website. By checking this you know that they are traceable and can be held accountable for any problems.
  • Check the return policy. While you get extra protection when shopping online, this isn’t always the case when you buy specific products or from a private individual, so it’s always best to check.
  • Report potentially unsafe toys: If you suspect that a toy you purchased from an online marketplace is unsafe or illegal, please contact the relevant authority in your country, the platform where you purchased the toy, the importer and the seller. You can warn other online shoppers by writing a review.

For more information, visit Which?

“Grow up, little girl,” someone said.

“This is literally hoarding,” said someone else.

Another user chimed in: “Spiders, dust, fire hazards – what more could you want.”

But Damali does not let herself be guided by this phase.

She added: “No matter what you do, someone will have something negative to say.

“I really enjoy what sharing my collection has brought me.

“It has done a lot of inner healing for me that I didn’t know I needed.

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“I’ve inspired others to post their own collections and not be ashamed of what people think.

“So be yourself and do what makes you happy.”

Damali and her husband have spent almost £5,000 on their soft toy collectionCredit: Jam Press/@moremallows4mee
The couple is running out of space to store their collection and hopes to move them into their own room to display themCredit: Jam Press/@moremallows4mee