If it weren’t for the flowers in her hair and her Tehuana-inspired dress, the new Frida Kahlo Barbie would remain indiscernible from other dolls. The toy is missing her signature unibrow and upper lip hair, has lightened eyes, and doesn’t portray her disability. All of this has sparked controversy for Mattel, the company behind the Barbie, first online and then with family members of the late Mexican artist. Last week, Mattel released a Frida Kahlo doll as part of its Inspiring Women line, and many have spoken out against it since, including Salma Hayek.

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Hayek, who played the artist in 2002’s Frida biopic, used Instagram to voice her disappointment with the doll. “#FridaKahlo never tried to be or look like anyone else,” she wrote. “She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie?”


Though she doesn’t break down how the doll strips Kahlo of what made her so special, her comment touches on many of the issues that people have with the doll. Mara de Anda Romeo – one of Frida’s relatives who said the family didn’t authorize the use of Frida Kahlo’s image, wants the doll redesigned. “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.