Culture

How ‘What Would Frida Do’ is a Semi-Biographical Guide to Life

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.

Frida Kahlo is a beloved icon who remains inspirational decades after her death in 1954 because of her passion and ideals. Author Arianna Davis recognized that Frida’s life was worth emulating in various ways so she wrote “What Would Frida Do?: A Guide to Living Boldly” out Oct. 20. In the book she breaks down how to live like Frida with each chapter dedicated to a certain topic including “confidence,” “love,” “identity,” and “creativity.”

Davis–who is half Black, half Puerto Rican–is the digital director at O magazine and a long time fan of Frida’s. While the book contains biographical elements, it’s not extensive but rather it’s about the lessons we can all learn from her life. “Frida was, above all else, a master of self – the author of her own story,” she writes.

In the introduction she mentions talking to the spirit of Frida who asks if she’s Mexican to account for interest in writing the book. Davis devoted months to research and spent time in La Casa Azul (Museo Frida Kahlo) in Coyoacán in Mexico City learning about Frida’s beloved home. Davis connected with the Frida in that they both share dual identities:

“Being from two cultures myself, I was often intrigued by Frida’s own journey with identity. Despite having a German father, Frida eventually lost the original German spelling of her first name, Frieda, and much of her life’s work was paying tribute through her art, life, and clothing to Mexico, as well as her mother’s indigenous roots. Until her very last day, she unapologetically embraced her Mexicanidad,” Davis tells Remezcla.

Through the course of 200+ pages Davis details Frida’s life and then includes a “WWFD” section with advice on how to apply the lessons she learned to your own life. When it comes to love she writes: “dive in headfirst” and “don’t worry about what other people think” much like Frida and famed muralist Diego Rivera’s love, which was famously intense and tumultuous but enduring.

Davis dedicates the book to Frida, writing she has taught her “the most important lesson of all: ‘viva la vida!’”

“Seeing that a woman who spent so many months of her life enduring great pain and sadness—both physically and emotionally—still managed to embrace and share messages of joy and making the most of your life reminds me that no matter how bad things might get, you still only get one life, so you’d better live it,” Davis shared. “On my down days, I often quite literally ask myself: ‘What would Frida do?’ If there is any icon who knows what it’s like to survive, it’s her. So if, through all of the obstacles life sent her way, Frida Kahlo could still manage to push through and live her life to the fullest—well, I certainly can, too.”