The Feminist Fable of the infamous Frida Kahlo

A Mexican Artist with flowers in her hair, mischief in her eyes and a bridging unibrow she adorned with pride, meet Frida Kahlo, the woman, the myth, the legend, whose life was as grand and vivid as her self-portraits.

Frida is celebrated as a Feminist goddess, a great Artist and a visionary but a lot about her life, that inspired her art, remains undiscovered.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

Young Frida, much like the Artist that we know and love, did not fit the stereotypical mold of a girl set by the oppressive Mexican society of the 20th Century. She was free-spirited, wild, curious, goofy and everything a proper girl wasn’t supposed to be. Being the darling daughter favoured by her father, she was adored and loved unconditionally by him. However, she was a bright child who endured excruciating physical pain and ailment throughout her life.

“Feet, what do I need them for, If I have wings to fly.”

At the young age of six, Frida contracted polio, which hindered her growth. She recovered from it after nine months of monitored bed rest but the polio left her with a slightly under-developed right leg. But this wild child of destiny never let it stop her life. She excelled at all kinds of sports despite everything. Polio wasn’t the only boulder she faced in her lifetime though, at 18 she got into a life threatening automobile accident. The accident shattered her collarbone, spine and fractured her foot. People didn’t think Frida could make out of this incident alive, but she did. The crippling pain and spinal injury left her bed ridden with years of recovery to come. It was then her dalliance with painting and art began. Her paintings manifest the excruciating physical pain Frida experienced throughout her life. They are a mirror to her emotional turbulence and life experiences. Art also introduced Frida to the love of her life, Diego Rivera.

“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the train the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”

Diego Rivera was an established and critically acclaimed Mexican painter, who was a consummate womanizer and an artistic legend. Frida sought him for a professional opinion on her paintings and they both didn’t realise when sparks started to fly between them. Diego was a worldly 43-year-old man, whereas Frida was just a 22-year-old girl. She became his third wife and an equal companion. Everything was dandy until day one day it was not. Their relationship was tumultuous to say the least with disloyalty and extra marital affairs on both sides. They both stayed together regardless, until one day, Diego’s affair with Frida’s younger sister, Catherine, surfaced. That affair served as the last straw. She divorced him however, her love for him didn’t dissipate.

“I am that clumsy human, always loving, loving, loving. And loving. And never leaving.”

From believing in wanting a lover “who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee and poetry,” Frida got consumed by her relationship with Diego which the Millennials might call a “toxic relationship.” She remarried him a year after their divorce. The traces of her relationship with Diego are depicted as raw emotions in her paintings.

“Perhaps it is expected that I should lament about how I have suffered living with a man like Diego. But I do not think that the banks of a river suffer because they let the river flow, nor does the earth suffer because of the rains, nor does the atom suffer for letting its energy escape. To my way of thinking, everything has its natural compensation.”

Frida was a woman of substance who owned her life and lived it at her own terms. She depicted female form and emotions in its whole essence of imperfections and beauty through her art. She is a celebrated figure amongst feminists all over the world because Frida and her life are a depiction of agency. In a society that didn’t let women go out of line, Frida sore so high in the sky that no societal norms could hold her down.

“I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.”

She was unapologetically herself and her self-portraits are a fine example of that. Her sexuality, thoughts and essence were untempered and uncompromised. Frida died at the age of 47 but her wisdom and art transcended lifetimes and it will continue to inspire the generations to come.

“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”

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