Over the years the name and likeness of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, a fierce feminist and ardent communist, have been associated with a number of unlikely products.
Sneakers. Lipstick. Beer.
But Barbie doll?
Yes, Mattel, which manufactures Barbie, included a Kahlo doll in an inaugural series meant to coincide with International Women’s Day.
She is part of the line of “Inspiring Women” dolls that includes the aviator Amelia Earhart and the NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose life was featured in the movie “Hidden Figures.”
Kahlo, whom Mattel described as “a celebrated artist, activist and symbol of strength” and who died at the age of 44 in 1954, was known for self-portraits and other works that the Surrealist leader André Breton described as “a ribbon around a bomb.” She may not have approved of being cast as a variety of Barbie, the best-selling doll whose image Mattel has updated so as to address criticism that in body type and lifestyle it had perpetuated damaging stereotypes about women.
Certainly one family member took exception to Mattel’s depiction of the artist, which eliminated her signature unibrow, a long single eyebrow that one commentator found emblematic of “her striking and beautiful refusal to give in to certain sexist societal pressures.”