I love Frida Kahlo just as much as the next Mexican-American feminist. She represents my culture and my ideology. She’s one reason that I have so much respect for our history and traditions. Most importantly, I’m inspired by her personally, as an individual and an artist.
Naturally, as a Frida fan, I do possess Frida merchandise, though probably not as much as you might think. But I have her books and art as much as humanly possible, but I don’t go crazy buying Frida-related products, because it just feels silly. Understanding Frida as a person is realizing that she is much more than a makeup kit or menstrual pads — even though I understand the womanhood behind those products. So when I learned that Barbie had converted Frida into a doll, I took a step back.
As I analyzed the figure of Frida as a Barbie doll, I quickly realized that it looks nothing like her. The doll is wearing a dress that Frida would wear, but the doll has too much hair, and her face is not hers. It’s not. Through photographs and film, I’ve seen Frida at practically ever stage of her life, and the doll that Barbie has created to honor her does the exact opposite. It took away Frida’s true beauty and made her into some kind of perfected imposter. Our real-life Frida was already flawless. She did not look like a prettied-up version of herself.
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While we understand that Barbie has good intentions — creating historic dolls for International Women’s Day, which included Amelia Earhart and mathematician Katherine Johnson, among others — it’s ultimately a letdown. What Barbie failed to do is create a doll that would truly inspire young girls. They forgot to include Frida’s incredible will, as she endured so much physical and emotional pain, that she had to be committed to her bed and wheelchair. They also forgot that Frida’s right leg that was thinner than her left one after her battle with polio. And, yes, her most unique feature — if we had to name just one — was her unibrow. Her distinctive brow that so many would love to emulate.
Frida’s strong and forceful nature would surely throw the doll across the room and maybe burn it. Then use the burned doll as material for art — only then would we want this doll.