Mattel released a series of Barbies entitled Inspiring Women featuring a Frida Kahlo alongside Amelia Earhart and a smattering of athletes, directors and despite having once released a talking Barbie in the 1990’s that exclaimed “Math is hard”, a mathematician. All the gals feature a variety of skin tones and hair textures.
This week a Mexican court ruled the Frida Barbie could not be considered inspiring. Despite having obtained rights on her image from the corporation licensed to provide it, Frida’s family didn’t like her being a Barbie. The family felt Frida was featured as being too thin and lacking a sufficient amount of facial hair. Though, despite being a Barbie doll, Frida did still have her trademark uni-brow
I totally get how historical women of substance probably didn’t see themselves as future Barbie dolls, a doll based on a German sex toy that was transformed into the child’s toy many of us grew up around.
However, I never bought the argument that the deceased would have, or have not, liked something being done now. Once dead, I’m assuming your opinions and believes often change. To say “She would wanted it this way.” is the equivalent, to me, of guessing exactly what a cat is thinking about current world events.
Had I a vested interested in Frida’s estate I would lean towards Mattel for obvious reasons, aka money. But not just that. Perhaps my ancestor is being belittled as an artist being in a doll form, but any more so than her image on a t-shirt, bag or variety of tchotchke? More important to me is the notion that Frida’s contributions are being introduced to a whole new world of young women. I know I never heard of Frida until Madonna started collecting her paintings in the 1980s and her art’s value skyrocketed with the exposure.
Then came Salma Hayek’s 2002 film that spread Frida’s appeal even more around the globe.
Following Guadalupe, Frida is the most visually prominent Mexican woman around town. Like Guadalupe, not every image of Frida is a work of art, or even recognizable from the source material. However, exposure of a gal that promoted Mexico and compassion, is inspiring and a seemingly good thing.
Plus, for the record, anyone that wants to turn to me into buff GI Joe doll I’m all for. I’ve already got the name part down though his lack of genitals is a concern.
By Joseph “Not a GI” Toone
Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series. All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays. Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA. Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkin