This week, Mattel announced that it’s releasing a Frida Kahlo Barbie doll as part of its Inspiring Women line. The company – which has long been on the receiving end of criticism about the unrealistic beauty standards its Barbies perpetuate – released this line to give young girls role models that will inspire “limitless potential” in them. And while some have excitedly embraced the forthcoming Frida doll, others have called out Mattel for overlooking the famed artist’s disability, lack of facial hair (her unibrow amounts to a few wisps of hair), and for using her image in a way that likely would have upset her. As many turn to the internet to voice their opinions, there’s some friction within Kahlo’s family about the usage of her likeness.
Mara de Anda Romeo – Frida’s great-niece – recently spoke out to say that no family members or heirs “did not authorize the use of Frida Kahlo’s image for a Barbie doll.” “We (Mara de Anda and her mother, Mara Romero) found out [about the doll] through social media,” Anda Romero told El Universal. “My lawyers will contact Mattel, because they can’t market that doll without our authorization.”
Reportedly, Anda Romero wants Mattell to redesign the doll, the Associated Press reports. “I would like the doll to have traits more like Frida’s, not this doll with light-colored eyes,” she said. Mattel, for its part, says it received the rights through Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, whose name appears on the Frida Kahlo Corporation’s website, more than a decade ago. “Mattel has worked in close partnership with the Frida Kahlo Corporation, the owner of all rights related to the name and identity of Frida Kahlo, on the creation of this doll,” a spokesperson said. “In addition to the Frida Kahlo Corporation being an important part of the doll development process, we have their permission and a legally binding agreement to make a doll in the likeness of the great Frida Kahlo.”
However, a statement from the family to the BBC said that Mara “is the sole owner of the rights of the image of the illustrious Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.”