‘Frida Kahlo never tried to be or look like anyone’
Mattel has been creating Barbie dolls for over 50 years, and despite its timeless popularity, the dolls have been widely criticised in recent years – accused of promoting unrealistic gender roles and perpetuating anti-feminist ideals.
In response, we’re in the midst of a huge Barbie diversity drive, with the brand releasing new dolls with realistic body types, religions and skin types – in terms of careers however, Barbie still has a long way to go.
In an attempt to address the misconception that ‘Barbie doesn’t need a job because she has Ken to provide for her’, the brand released a collection of 17 ‘role model’ dolls (AKA ‘Sheroes’) for International Women’s Day – representing ‘real women’.
With the new Barbie collection including women from NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson and aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart to boxing Champion Nicola Adams OBE and filmmaker Patty Jenkins, the Barbie brand received praise for its selection.
It came under fire however for its recreation and Barbie makeover of Mexican artist and women’s rights Icon Frida Kahlo, changing the proportions of her face and body, toning down her signature monobrow and according to some sources, not having the rights to use the icon’s name in the first place.
One person who was not afraid to make her thoughts known was actress Salma Hayek, known for her Oscar-nominated portrayal of the Mexican artist in the 2002 film Frida.
‘Frida Kahlo never tried to be or look like anyone,’ the 51-year-old actress posted to her Instagram feed. ‘She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie.’
‘Girls have always been able to play out different role and careers with Barbie,’ Lisa McKnight, senior Vice President for Barbie announced in a statement about all 17 dolls. ‘And we are thrilled to shine a light on real-life role models to remind them that they can be anything.’
That is, as long as they look pretty enough…