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Frida Kahlo’s problematic doll

A toy corporation has tried to appear more diverse and progressive by creating a Frida Kahlo doll – but its efforts have backfired.

Soon after Barbie producer Mattel unveiled a doll of the beloved Marxist artist, as part of a series expanding role models for girls, it was criticized for a design that appeared to force Kahlo into the mould of white, Western beauty standards.

‘I would have liked the doll to have traits more like Frida’s, not this doll with light-coloured eyes,’ Kahlo’s great-niece Mara Romeo told AFP.

Critics complained that the doll bore no sign of Kahlo’s signature monobrow, nor her elaborate dresses. It also erased all scars that polio had left on the artist’s body and traces of the bus accident that forced her into a wheelchair in late life.

Some Twitter users also remarked on the irony of turning of a communist icon into a mass-produced commodity.

Alessio Perrone

New Internationalist issue 215 magazine cover This article is from the January 1991 issue of New Internationalist.
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