In a perfect world, we would all rejoice and applaud the fact that our beloved Frida Kahlo is being immortalized with her own Barbie. Her legacy being passed down to the younger generation in the form of a toy sounds great, but the figurine that was announced by Mattel as part of their "Inspiring Women" series, has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
Salma Hayek, whose portrayal of the artist earned her an Academy Award nomination, expressed her disapproval of the doll on Instagram. In the post, she says, "Frida Kahlo never tried to be or look like anyone else. She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie?"
The doll features significantly lighter eyes than the icon actually had and also have a noticeable gap when her eyebrows used to meet. The doll also does not feature the magical realist's iconic lip hair. Fans of the painter have also criticized the fact that the doll doesn't appear to have any signs of polio, a disease that incapacitated her for most of her life, or the life-long injuries that were caused by a bus crash in 1925.
Descendants of the artist have spoken out against the doll and threatened legal action. Her family is complaining about the lack of resemblance that the doll bears to the real artist and is alleging that Mattel did not have permission to use her image. Kahlo's great-niece Mara de Anda Romeo said, “You don’t turn a doll into Frida Kahlo by putting flowers in its hair and giving it a colorful dress,” in an interview with Telegraph. She added that the toy doesn't have a traditional Mexican dress and that the doll is lacking "value and legitimacy."
Mattel says it received the rights to produce the doll with the Frida Kahlo Corporation, which was founded in Panama in 2005. The corporation, which now operates separately from the Kahlo family, said Mattel received rights from the painter's niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, who died in 2007. The family also say that they have been trying to dissolve the Frida Kahlo Corporation for years.
Matter vice-president Michelle Chidoni avoided insists that “these dolls are depictions of amazing women who did amazing things in their time and represent real-life examples and stories for girls to be inspired by,” she said. “This doll introduces them to Frida’s story.”
Despite the resistance from fans and the family, the doll will still available in stores.