The Frida Kahlo Barbie is copping some serious backlash

The Frida Kahlo Barbie is copping some serious backlash


Site: Samantha Ledlin

Would Frida Kahlo ever have approved being made into a Barbie doll? Likely not.

Each year, Mattel famously releases a series of inspirational Barbie dolls to coincide with International Women's Day. Last year Ashley Graham and Misty Copeland were among the real-life women depicted by the doll; this year aviator Amelia Earhart, mathematician Katherine Johnson and artist Frida Kahlo got their very own Barbie makeover.  The principle behind the decision to produce and release Barbie dolls of inspiring women is of course extremely honourable. These real-life women act as much more meaningful role models for young girls and a breath of fresh air from the blonde haired, stick thin dolls we grew up with. However this year's Frida Kahlo doll is copping some serious backlash.

The Frida Kahlo Barbie is copping some serious backlash (фото 1)

There is one obvious physical problem; despite the braided up-do decorated with flowers, Mattel's Frida Kahlo Barbie looks nothing like the feminist artist, even to the point where Kahlo's signature mono-brow was quite obviously lessened. The artist's great-niece, Mara de Anda Romeo who is listed as "the sole owner of the rights of the image of the illustrious Mexican painter Frida Kahlo," explained in a statement: "I would have liked the doll to have traits more like Frida's, not this doll with light-coloured eyes," she said.

The Frida Kahlo Barbie is copping some serious backlash (фото 2)

The statement claims that Mattel was not authorised to produce a doll in the likeness of Frida Kahlo, however Mattel has argued that the company did have the correct permission. "Mattel has worked in close partnership with the Frida Kahlo Corporation, the owner of all rights related to the name and identity of Frida Kahlo, on the creation of this doll," a spokesperson said. According to BBC, Mattel also provided a statement from the Frida Kahlo Corporation explaining the company derived its rights to reproduce Kahlo's image from Kahlo's niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo. 

Legal statements aside, the act being made into a highly commercialised product such as a Barbie - the most famous doll in the world - goes against the social and political values that Kahlo promoted throughout her life and in her work. Kahlo openly held Marxist and largely anti-capitalist ideals; towards the end of her life she painted 'Marxism Will Give Health to the Ill' (1954), depicting a hand extending to choke an Uncle Sam figure while Kahlo is held and protected by Karl Marx.

'Marxism Will Give Health to the Ill' (1954) - Frida Kahlo

Actress Salma Hayek who played the artist in the 2002 drama, Frida has also slammed the creation of the doll, posting to Instagram: "#fridakahlo never tried to be or look like anyone else. She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie."

Romeo has allegedly begun legal proceedings, working with a lawyer named Pablo Sangri who explained in a statement: We will talk to [Mattel] about regularizing this situation. And by regularizing, I mean talking about the appearance of the doll, its characteristics. The history the doll should have to match what the artist really was."

The Frida Kahlo Barbie is copping some serious backlash (фото 3)

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