We use cookies for site personalization, analytics and advertising. You can opt out of third party cookies. More info in our privacy policy.   Got it

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.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Subscribe today »


Help us produce more like this

Editor Portrait Patreon is a platform that enables us to offer more to our readership. With a new podcast, eBooks, tote bags and magazine subscriptions on offer, as well as early access to video and articles, we’re very excited about our Patreon! If you’re not on board yet then check it out here.

Support us »

Subscribe   Ethical Shop