Frida Kahlo’s family are not the only one that are upset over the portrayal of the Mexican artist as a Barbie doll. The woman that played her — exquisitely so — in the biopic film about her life, Salma Hayek is also very upset over this generic transformation.
In an Instagram post, the actress and activist stated that the creative icon was never about conforming her looks or her vision to fit the standards of anyone else, let alone a corporation.
“#FridaKahlo never tried to be or look like anyone else,” Hayek writes. “She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie?” She also wrote it in Spanish: “No puedo creer que hayan hecho una Barbie de nuestra Friducha que nunca trató de parecerse a nadie y siempre celebró su originalidad.” She ended her post with two thumbs down, and #BodyImage.”
Hayek, who studied her and probably understands the complexity of Kahlo’s character more than most, recognizes the irony in a Barbie doll version of Frida.
As we reported last week, Mattel — the maker of Barbie — introduced a line of 14 dolls that featured empowering women in history for International Women’s Day including Amelia Earhart and mathematician Katherine Johnson. The family of Kahlo, however, said they never approved the making of the doll. Mattel says the Frida Kahlo Corporation — owned by another family member of Kahlo — says they approved the doll.
After the family released their statement, Mattel responded by saying: “[Mattel] celebrates the ideological contributions of Frida Kahlo which have transcended the borders of art and which will influence new generations as a world icon through the Frida Kahlo Barbie, which conserves the essence of Barbie and the legacy of Frida Kahlo.”
Even before Hayek played Frida Kahlo, she was always a champion of her work and her creative spirit. So we can assume that in this case, Hayek knows what she’s talking about.