Row over Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

Bessie Dean
March 13, 2018

As it turns out, no one is enjoying Mattel's take on a Frida Kahlo Barbie - neither the famous artist's estate, nor the actress who played her, Salma Hayek.

Kahlo's great-niece Mara de Anda Romeo said Mattel doesn't have the rights to use Kahlo's image. The family also say that they have been trying to dissolve the Frida Kahlo Corporation for years.

Mattel also provided a statement from the Frida Kahlo Corporation in which it said it derived its rights to reproduce Kahlo's image from Kahlo's niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo. "How could they turn her into a Barbie", Hayek wrote with two thumbs down emojis, followed by the same message in Spanish.

However, Kahlo's family doesn't share that excitement The late painter's family released a statement on Instagram claiming that Mattel "does not have the proper authorization to use the image of Frida Kahlo".

Many on social media criticised the doll and complained it's more Barbie-like than Frida Kahlo-like.

The toy manufacturer recently announced a line of dolls based on "inspiring women", including Amelia Earhart, Katherine Johnson, and Frida Kahlo, but relatives of the artist are insisting that the doll is unauthorized.

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"How could Hayek and Kahlo's family are offended by the discreet sameness that the Barbie still wants to maintain even in its efforts to represent a figure like Frida Kahlo".

"The Frida Kahlo Corporation actively participated in the process of designing the doll, Mattel has its permission and a legal contract that grants it the rights to make a doll of the great Frida Kahlo", the company's statement said.

Romeo's lawyer Pablo Sangri said the family established the Frida Kahlo Corporation in partnership with another company called Casablanca Distributors in 2005. Fans across Twitter have spoken out, sharing their regrets that Kahlo's Barbie isn't an accurate representation of the artist.

"We will talk to them about regularizing this situation, and by regularizing I mean talking about the appearance of the doll, its characteristics, the history the doll should have to match what the artist really was", Sangri told the Associated Press.

The image of Kahlo and her instantly recognizable eyebrows - which she let grow into a single strip of dark brow in defiance of convention - has been stamped onto an explosion of consumer products in recent years: nail polish, bags, shoes, notebooks and much, much more.

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