Last week, Frida Kahlo was immortalized in the form of a hypersanitized Barbie doll, and this week, the woman who played her in the considerably less-sanitized Hollywood biopic is speaking out. On Sunday, Salma Hayek—who won an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the iconic artist in 2002—took to Instagram with some brief but cutting words of disappointment.
“#fridakahlo never tried to be or look like anyone else. She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie,” the star wrote, expressing the same sentiment in Spanish. “No puedo creer que hayan hecho una Barbie de nuestra Friducha que nunca trató de parecerse a nadie y siempre celebró su originalidad ??#body image”.
Indeed, the doll in question is very far from the complex artist Hayek portrayed 16 years ago. Not only does the Barbie® Frida Kahlo feature light-colored eyes and lack her famous unibrow, but many fans and critics are saying the very idea of a mass-produced, Mattel-branded, $29.99 toy with a “Fashionista standard torso” goes against everything the famed feminist and communist stood for.
Among the fiercest detractors are Kahlo’s own family, who say Mattel is not authorized to be making money off of the late artist’s likeness. “I would have liked the doll to have traits more like Frida’s, not this doll with light-colored eyes,” said Kahlo’s great-niece, Mara de Anda Romeo, in a statement to AFP per the BBC. “We will talk to [Mattel] about regularizing this situation,” said her lawyer, Pablo Sangri, according to The Guardian. “And by regularizing I mean talking about the appearance of the doll, its characteristics, the history the doll should have to match what the artist really was.”
In response, Mattel has stood by its decision to commodify the artist in honor of International Women’s Day, saying it cleared all rights with the Frida Kahlo Corporation. Meanwhile, the [Frida Kahlo Corporation]—which claims to own all rights to the artist’s image worldwide and hawks everything from Frida Kahlo tequila to Frida Kahlo skin care—has released a statement of its own: “[The corporation] celebrates the ideological contributions of Frida Kahlo, which have transcended the borders of art and which will influence new generations as a world icon through the Frida Kahlo Barbie.”