6 Reasons Why Frida Kahlo is a Feminist Icon
Written By Maddy Crehan
To celebrate Frida Kahlo’s birthday month we’ve put together a little list explaining why she is just the best. Enjoy!
1. She defied gender stereotypes.
Frida smoked, boxed, won tequila challenges against men, and dressed like a man in a family portrait, contrasting to her mother and sisters who wore dresses. She refused to alter her ‘masculine’ features, including her mono-brow and faint moustache, and actually exaggerated these features in her self portraits. She once wrote in her diary “of my face, I like my eyebrows and eyes”. However she still embraced her femininity, wearing colorful dresses and decorating her hair with braids and flowers.
2. She was openly bisexual.
Frida had multiple affairs with both men and women throughout her marriage to Diego Rivera. She made no apologies or excuses for her sexual choices, a bold act for her time. One of her notable affairs was with entertainer Josephine Baker, who matched Kahlo’s boldness and creativity.
3. She painted real women and real experiences.
Frida deviated from the traditional depiction of female beauty in art and instead chose to paint raw and honest experiences that so many women face. Her subject matter included abortion, miscarriage, birth and breastfeeding, among other things, often seen as taboo and like many female experiences altogether ignored. Frida once said of her self portraits that “they are the frankest expression of myself”, and in turn shed light on the experiences shared by womankind.
4. She defied her destiny as a victim.
Frida experienced an immense amount of suffering throughout her life; contracting polio at age six, suffering from spina bifida, and then at the age of 18 suffering a near-fatal car accident that left her unable to bear children. Though she was bedridden for months after the accident, Frida began to paint. She transformed her pain into passion on the canvas. Though there is always a sense of despair and suffering in her self portraits, her gaze remains defiant and fierce. While so many women are depicted as the victim, Frida demonstrates that pain is an intrinsic part of life but does not define us.
6. She embraced weirdness.
Frida relished in breaking the rules, both in her art and her life. She surrounded herself with other inspiring creatives and thinkers. One of the reasons her work is so widely celebrated is because it was unlike anything proceeding it. Though she was well aware of her uniqueness, she encouraged others to embrace their inner weirdo too, as she says:
“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.”
7. She’s just so damn fierce.
Maddy regularly writes for Rosie, and is passionate about music, history, art and gender equality.
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