By Geisha Bar

“Barbie® recognizes all female role models. The Inspiring Women™ Series pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before. Born in Mexico in 1907, artist, activist, and feminist icon, Frida Kahlo, was and continues to be a symbol of strength, originality, and unwavering passion. Overcoming a number of obstacles to follow her dream of becoming a fine artist, Frida persevered and gained recognition for her unique style and perspective. With her vibrant palette and mix of realism and fantasy, she addressed important topics like identity, class, and race, making her voice, and the voices of girls and women alike, heard. The Barbie® Inspiring Women™ Frida Kahlo doll celebrates the groundbreaking achievements, heroism, and long-lasting contributions Frida made in the art world and for women.”

This is the product description for the new Frida Kahlo Barbie doll. Can you imagine anyone who would be less thrilled to be represented in Barbie form? Frida Kahlo challenged idealised beauty standards, wore men’s clothing and refused to conform. In true Mattel fashion, the doll has been whitewashed, slimmed and given far less of a monobrow than Kahlo ever had. Put simply; they gave her a makeover to fit her more closely to Mattel’s idea of what beauty is. Ugh.

Kahlo’s great-niece Mara Romeo has stated that Mattel used Kahlo’s image without permission from the family. “I would have liked the doll to have traits more like Frida’s, not this doll with light-colored eyes,” Romeo stated. “I would have liked her to have a unibrow, for her clothes to be made by Mexican artisans.” She also complained that the doll’s skin was far too light. Happily, a Mexican judge recently banned sales of the doll in Mexico, saying that Kahlo’s relatives owned the Frida Kahlo image. Romeo and her mother are now in a battle with Frida Kahlo Corporation, who has sued the relatives and is seeking a judgment that will clarify its position as the sole controller of the licensing rights to Kahlo’s name and image.

Capitalism, ugh.