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Can Someone Please Explain To Me Why The Barbie Doll Version Of Frida Kahlo Doesn’t Include Her Wheelchair?

We’ve all heard and read about the extreme impacts of Barbie’s unattainable beauty. For years researchers have underlined how the queen bee of dolls, the one whose real-life dimensions would chalk her up to a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe, has and continues to warp young girls’ understandings of what they “should” look like. So, of course, it’s come as a relief that in more recent years Mattel, the manufacturing giant behind Barbie and American Girl, has taken steps to revamp and diversify its doll lineups so that kids of all shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, and orientations can feel celebrated and capable.

In the company’s latest effort to honor the power of women, Mattel has unveiled a Barbie roster made up of female icons for their newest series called “Inspiring Women.” Right on time for International Women’s Day.

That Frida Kahlo has been selected for the lineup had Latinas across the net mostly thrilled. That was until some glaring details were noticed.

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On Tuesday, the company revealed that the Latina artist, known for exploring and raising questions around feminism, identity, race, and beauty ideals would be made into a Barbie doll alongside historical and modern-day icons Amelia Earhart, Chloe Kim and Nicola Adams.

In a press release about the new line of dolls, Lisa McKnight, the senior vice president and general manager of Barbie talked about the company’s new dolls. “As a brand that inspires the limitless potential in girls, Barbie will be honoring its largest line up of role models timed to International Women’s Day, because we know that you can’t be what you can’t see… Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie and we are thrilled to shine a light on real-life role models to remind them that they can be anything.”

All appeared to be well and good until photos of the Mexican icon’s doll brought up a few glaring problems.

Many were quick to point out that some of the traits most typically attributed to the artist,  her brow, and her wheelchair, had been played down or missing entirely. Kahlo’s Barbie doll has a few sparse hairs between her brows but they’re not nearly as noticiable as the artist made them out to be in her own self-portraits.

Others highlighted how the use of her image by such a large corporation like Mattel went against everything the artist stood for. After all, the artist was well-known for her starch messages of anti-capitalism.

It’s easy to be grateful for Mattel’s decision to include Kahlo, but it’s also just as easy for us to be disappointed at the same time as well.

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As an Afro-Latina, I can effortlessly recall the impact playing with an ethnically specific doll like Barbie had on me. Barbie was a doll unlike me in practically every way I could tally up. She was fair-skinned, blue-eyed and without her long straight blond hair, she would have otherwise been completely hairless. Throughout my days of playing with dolls (and even now on the occasions I skip my nightly tweeze and shave sessions) I was dark-skinned, brown-eyed, extremely hairy on all parts of my body and I later endured bouts of a neurological disorder. Like many Latinas, Frida Kahlo was my first introduction to a famous person who was successful, was of color, was hairy, and had a body that battled various ailments. She wasn’t a sidekick like the partly relatable POC dolls (Christie was Black and Teresa was strictly white Latina) Mattel had distributed. She was the star of her own show, the main attraction.

So, yes, it’s exciting to see Frida Kahlo come to life as a Barbie, but TBH a more accurate portrayal of the artist would have had many of her fans much more excited and inspired. In the meantime, I’ll have my fingers crossed for re-do of Frida and I’ll still be waiting out for those Celia Cruz and Amara La Negra dolls.

Read: A Mexican Company Put Frida Kahlo’s Face On Its Feminine Hygiene Products And Someone Please Pass The Midol

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Barbie Unveils New Dolls That Use Wheelchairs And Prosthetic Limbs


Barbie Unveils New Dolls That Use Wheelchairs And Prosthetic Limbs

Since Barbie originally hit shelves back on March 9, 1959, the doll everyone has come to love has evolved and changed with the times. From the zebra striped swimsuit wearing doll to a chef, a doctor, an Olympian. Soon enough fans of the brand were able to access Barbies of different races and body types after a public push for diversity and criticism that the “perfect” doll promoted an unrealistic body type for girls. After the groundbreaking launch to further diversify the brand behind the doll, Mattel, has collaborated with a thirteen-year-old disabled activist Jordan Reeves. The teen was born without a forearm and has worked with Mattel to introduce dolls that are disabled.

For the first time, young disabled children will get to play with Barbie dolls who have realistic wheelchairs similar to theirs and have accurate prosthetic limbs as well.

Credit: Instagram/ @barbie

The overall response from the disabled community has been praising Mattel for creating an accurate representation for their Barbie brand. That is not only important for the world to see, especially when so many other companies have failed to show disabled people correctly because of their unwillingness to work with disabled people in production. Mattel has listened to disabled people begging for dolls that look like them and made the effort to work with disabled people to create the most authentic disabled doll as possible. These new disabled dolls have made many adults in the disabled community reminisce of their childhood when they dreamed of seeing a doll like them using mobility aids or missing limbs. And are excited to purchase the disabled Barbie doll to fulfill their childhood dreams. And speaking of dreams, along with the Barbie doll having an accurate wheelchair, Mattel is also including a Barbie DreamHouse-compatible ramp!

Guess the Barbie world knows the importance of being accessible and ADA compliant.

While most are celebrating, the disabled community had some well deserved constructive criticism of the new dolls.

One of the biggest constructive criticisms is the lack of diverse bodies, races, and ethnicities for the disabled Barbie dolls. It’s been widely known (thanks to the hashtag #DisabilityTooWhite) that when disability representation is given, it’s usually only shown as a white, slim disabled person, which is only a small fraction of what disabled people look like. Many people of color who are disabled and disabled allies have praised Mattel for the dolls but hopes more disabled dolls will be released who are multiple sizes, multiple races, and multiple ethnicities. Along with expanding the range of disability with Barbie dolls who use canes, walkers or wear braces on their ankles.

As for myself, I’m excited that these disabled dolls, though long overdue, are finally going to exist.

Courtesy of Andrea Lausell

I couldn’t help but reminisce as others have done, about my childhood with Barbie. As far back as I can remember, my ride or die when I was a little girl were Barbie dolls. Almost the way Angelica’s relationship towards her Cynthia doll was in Rugrats. The Teresa Barbie doll was my “Cynthia” and meant the world to me because for the first time, I was playing with a doll that looked like my family, Latinx. Teresa (oddly enough my sister has the same name) looked like my sister and therefore she felt like family. I even pretend she was bilingual like myself, went on many adventures with her, and confided in her through difficult times I would have. She was my best friend but as a child, I felt only half of a connection with her. Teresa wasn’t disabled, she didn’t use an aid or had multiple scars like me. And never in my life did I think there would be any doll, let alone a Barbie doll who would match my disabled body.

My hope along with the hope many of those in the disabled community have is that Mattel’s wheelchair and prosthetic using disabled Barbie dolls are the start of a revolution for children’s toys. Toys, especially dolls have been where kids learn about friendships, relationships and how to get along with those who are different from them. They learn to use their imagination and build compassion for others. By having accurate disabled dolls, it’s not only showing kids in general that there’s nothing wrong with disability, but it is also showing disabled kids that they’re normal and beautiful like their abled peers and their abled dolls. These disabled Barbie dolls are great companions for any disabled child and would be greater if they start making diverse disabled Barbie dolls with many types of disabilities, mobility aids and even adding scars to the dolls. Hopefully, this will make other toy companies begin to have disability in mind when creating new toys. Mattel’s new disabled Barbie dolls will be life-changing for so many disabled kids who want to have a companion who knows what they’re going through and get them through anything life throws at them the way my Teresa Barbie was for me.

Read: In New York, Queer Latina Tiffany Cabán Wants To Bring ‘Genuine Justice’ To The Queens District Attorney’s Office

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After His Wife’s Death, Diego Rivera Tried To Hide The Fact That Frida Kahlo Had Other Sexual Partners But It Didn’t Work

Fierce Boss Ladies

After His Wife’s Death, Diego Rivera Tried To Hide The Fact That Frida Kahlo Had Other Sexual Partners But It Didn’t Work

During her lifetime, acclaimed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was not only renowned for her breathtaking surrealist paintings. She was also known for being a passionate lover with an insatiable appetite. An unabashed bisexual, Kahlo was notorious for her extramarital affairs with partners of both genders during her lifetime. Allegedly, Kahlo’s motto regarding sex was: “make love, take a bath, make love again”. In celebration of Kahlo’s liberated love life, we’ve compiled the definitive list of Frida Kahlo’s sexual conquests (that we know of). Take a peek below!

1. Diego Rivera


Of course, we must start this list off with Kahlo’s primary partner and the self-professed love of her life, Diego Rivera. When Kahlo and Rivera married in 1929, many regarded him as an unusual choice of a husband. Not only was he 20 years her senior, but he was a notorious womanizer and grossly overweight, to boot. In fact, Kahlo’s parents dubbed the couple “the elephant and the dove” due to their size contrast. Despite their differences, Kahlo and Rivera were married for 25 years (not including a one-year period of divorce) and considered each other soulmates. She even wrote a poem about him, describing their all-consuming relationship: “Diego in my urine—Diego in my mouth—in my heart. In my madness. In my dreams”.

2. Chavela Vargas


As we mentioned before, Kahlo was bisexual and enjoyed experiencing the carnal pleasures both men and women had to offer. One of these women was famous lesbian singer Chavela Vargas. According to reports, Vargas and Kahlo began a passionate affair sometime in the 1940s when they met at a party. Later in life, Vargas would refer to Kahlo as her “great love” and wrote about her extensively in her autobiography. As for Frida, she was evidently smitten with Vargas as well. In a letter to a friend, she wrote: “Today I met Chavela Vargas. An extraordinary woman, a lesbian, and what’s more, I desire her…Was she a gift sent to me from heaven?”.

3. Leon Trotsky


Leon Trostky was a Marxist philosopher and politician who, with the help of Diego Rivera, fled the USSR to Mexico to escape Stalin. Because of Rivera’s deep commitment to the Communist cause, he insisted Trotsky and his wife Natalia stay with him and Frida for safety reasons. They ended up staying for two years. It was at Rivera and Kahlo’s residence, the famous “Casa Azul”, that Trostky and Kahlo began an affair. Upon hearing of the infidelity, Rivera became enraged. Rivera was tolerant of Kahlo’s same-sex dalliances, but her heterosexual conquests made him insanely jealous. Trostky and his wife left La Casa Azul in 1939. A year later, Trotsky was murdered in Mexico by Stalinists who were threatened by Trotsky’s controversial views.

4. Georgia O’Keeffe


Kahlo had a complicated relationship with successful American artist Georgia O’Keefe that was a mixture of both awe and jealousy. In a letter to a friend about a trip she took to New York in 1939, Kahlo reveals that she and O’Keefe engaged in at least a sexual relationship, stating: “O’Keeffe was in the hospital for three months, she went to Bermuda for a rest. She didn’t make love to me that time, I think on account of her weakness. Too bad.”

5. Nickolas Muray


Hungarian-born photographer Nickolas Muray was one of the men that Kahlo engaged in the longest affair with, their relationship lasting, on and off, for over 10 years. Their affair began in 1931 when Muray was working in Mexico. According to love letters between them unearthed in the 1990s, their relationship was incredibly passionate. At one point, Kahlo wrote: “I miss every movement of your being, your voice, your eyes, your hands, your beautiful mouth, your laugh so clear and honest. YOU. I love you my Nick. I am so happy to think I love you –to think you wait for me– you love me”. According to reports, Muray wanted to marry Kahlo, but she was intent on keeping him as a lover, not a husband. Although they ended their affair in 1941, they remained good friends until her death in 1954.

6. Paulette Goddard


Paulette Goddard was an American actress most famous for starring in Charlie Chaplin films and later marrying him. Goddard is primarily known for having an affair with Diego Rivera, but many historians agree that she likely had a physical relationship with Frida as well. Although Kahlo was no doubt jealous of the affair between Rivera and Goddard, she also regarded Goddard as a friend and was sexually attracted to her. Many biographers of Frida Kahlo conjecture that Kahlo’s affairs with Rivera’s mistresses were a means for her to reclaim some authority within their relationship. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, Kahlo’s relationship with Goddard was deep enough for her to paint a still life in her honor. The 1941 painting was entitled “The flower basket”.

7. Isamu Noguchi


Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese-American sculptor who was both popular in the Mexican art scene when they started their affair in the mid-1930s. They had a short-lived, passionate physical relationship that drove Diego Rivera mad with jealousy. In Hayden Herrera’s seminal biographical work of Kahlo, “Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo”, Herrera recounts a story of Noguchi escaping a tryst between him and Kahlo by climbing down a tree outside the patio. The next time Rivera saw him, he threatened Noguchi with a gun. Although their affair was brief, Kahlo and Noguchi remained friends until her death

8. Tina Modotti


Tina Modotti was an Italian model, actress, photographer, and political activist that was good friends with Frida throughout her life. Like many of Frida’s same-sex relationships, she was introduced to Modotti through her husband Diego as one of his mistresses. However, Kahlo and Modotti quickly became the closer of the husband and wife couple and became lovers and good friends. Modotti was portrayed by Ashely Judd in the Salma Hayek-starring biopic “Frida” in 2002, one of the only female lovers of Frida’s depicted in the movie.

9. Alejandro Gomez Arias


Alejandro Gomez Arias was Kahlo’s first love and arguably the catalyst for Kahlo’s initial burst of artistic creativity. After getting in a violent bus accident in 1925 with Arias–an accident that mangled her body and left her with lifelong chronic pain–Frida was left bedridden and immobile for months. During this time, Kahlo was so frightened that Arias would lose interest in her that she created her first painting entitled “Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress” as a gift to him and an attempt to keep him interested. Unfortunately, the painting didn’t work, and she and Arias ended their relationship shortly after.

10. Jacqueline Lamba


Jacqueline Lamba was a French painter and the wife of famous writer and poet, André Breton. Kahlo met Lamba through her husband’s friendship with Breton. Although Kahlo found Breton “insufferable”, she became close to his wife and was “intimate” with her according to contemporary friends’ accounts. In fact, the relationship between Lamba and Kahlo was another of Frida’s same-sex relationships that inspired her creatively. Kahlo created the iconic  “The Bride Frightened at Seeing Life Opened” painting after being inspired by Lamba’s recount of her traumatic wedding night.

11. Heinz Berggruen


Heinz Berggruen was an art collector, art dealer, and a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany when he met Frida Kahlo in 1940. Before he was introduced to her, he was told by Diego Rivera: “You will meet my wife and you will fall in love with her”. He had a short love affair with Frida in New York in 1940 when he was only 25 years old and she was 32.  Berggruen, who lived to be 93 and died in 2007, said of his 6-week relationship with Kahlo, that she considered it “very freeing”, as she had just divorced her husband, Diego Rivera. Although he was a famous art collect and critique, Berggruen claims he never saw any of Frida’s work or talked to her about it while they were together. Of Frida, Berggruen said: “I met Frida Kahlo the woman, and that was enough for me”.

12. Josephine Baker


Josephine Baker was an African-American singer and dancer who moved to Paris to escape discrimination. Baker and Kahlo met in 1939, right after Frida had separated from Diego. She traveled to Paris for an exhibition of her paintings where photographic evidence documents at least one of her meetings with Baker. While Frida was openly bisexual and proud of her relationships, Josephine was much more secretive about her affairs with women and denied them publically. However, her son, Jean-Claude Baker, later confirmed his mother’s affairs with women, referring to them as her “lady lovers”.

13. Jose Bartoli


Jose Bartoli was a Spanish painter whom Frida met on one of her many trips to New York City. They had a secret three-year affair from 1946 to 1949 that was primarily conducted through letter-writing. Their relationship developed an iconic, public status when their letters were put up for auction in 2015 by his family. In one of her letters addressed to Bartloi, Kahlo wrote: “Last night I felt as if many wings caressed me all over as if your fingertips had mouths that kissed my skin”. According to Kahlo’s primary biographer, Hayden Herrera, she believes Kahlo “would have left [Diego Rivera] in order to live with Bartoli” and her love for Bartoli was “passionate, carnal, tender and maternal”

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