Frida Kahlo is the icon I know but not really: her name and her uni-brow (sorry) proceed her actual life. I previously believed she was the modern-day Mona Lisa of Mexico, a series of portraits that relied on eyebrows (sorry again) rather than lack thereof, made famous by Salma Hayek in the 2002 Frida biopic. I was wrong. Obviously.
During a recent trip to CVS, I noticed some beauty products in the “we’ll get you” section of the store that conveniently features super cool knick knacks right by the register. I picked up a bottle of taupe nail polish: the handle featured a sugar skull and in small, cursive letters, the name Kahlo. I was tempted to buy the product when I realized that I had no idea who Frida Kahlo actually was – and before buying a product that endorsed her, I wanted a little more information. Here is a breakdown of the life of Frida Kahlo, as well as the (pretty awesome) beauty products that celebrate her life and image.
“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”
- She was born in Mexico City in 1907. She often lied and said her birth year was 1910 to align with the Mexican Revolution.
- At the age of 6, she was diagnosed with polio. Her iconic fashion sense can be attributed to this: Frida wore long skirts and trousers to hide the fact that her right leg was thinner than the left.
- When she was 18, Frida was riding a bus that collided with a trolley car. She sustained severe injuries and wore a full body cast for 3 months. She was unable to have children following the accident and suffered several miscarriages. Frida painted Henry Ford Hospital in response.
- During her 3 month stay at the hospital, Frida began to paint to pass the time. Her mom gave her a special easel that allowed her to paint in bed. It was there that she developed a fondness for her own self portraits. (See above quote.)
- Frida married Mexican painter Diego Rivera in 1929. The pair did not practice fidelity: Frida was bisexual and had extramarital affairs with both men and women. He had an affair with her sister. They divorced. They got back together in 1940. Let bygones be bygones, eh?
- They were both super active communists and Stalin supporters, as well as celebrities. (Let’s not forget that artists were the equivalent of movie stars during this era.)
- In 1952, her lower right leg was amputated due to gangrene and she often relied on morphine to help her with pain. Frida died 2 years later of a pulmonary embolism, although many suspect it was an accidental overdose. She was 47.
- Frida’s work is rich with Mexican culture. Her paintings used bright colors and often included the monkey, the Mexican symbol for lust.
- Her beauty regime (which resulted in her posthumous makeup line) was not “typical.” She enhanced her thick facial hair rather than just waxing it off and almost always wore a bright red lipstick and dark pink blush. She braided her hair and wrapped it around her head, often using elaborate hairpieces like flowers and colorful ribbons.
In conclusion, she was a badass. Frida Kahlo created her own standards of beauty and was a feminist before it was cool, regardless of her extensive health issues and marital problems. Her paintings are iconic because they are unique, which makes me want to buy every single one of the beauty products below. (I’m hoping they’ll make me as cool as she was? Probably not but a girl can dream.)