I don’t like being late to the party (figuratively speaking of course, because I literally will always be late) so when something becomes popular before I discover it, my pretentious side will do everything in its power to stay away from it. I famously (famously, in my friend group) stayed away from Sam Smith because I assumed that he was over-hyped and when he accidentally made his way into a random Spotify playlist, I discovered that I was OH SO ABSOLUTELY WRONG. I did the same with Breaking Bad, Succession and Lizzo.
Which is how I found myself being 28 years old and knowing little to nothing about Frida. Yes, THE Frida.
While completely aware that she is a staple in the Mexican culture, I still stayed away from anything that had to do with her. It’s my least favorite quality in me, you’ll learn to love it. I don’t quite remember how she eventually found her way into my life but alas, the obsession is now officially very real.
So real in fact that I planned an entire New York trip around the Frida exhibit that was featured at the Brooklyn Museum. Okay, I planned it around that and a Jake Gyllenhaal play but I’m trying to downplay the Jake Gyllenhaal obsession here. The point is, once she made it into my life, I consumed everything I could about her.
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter known for her many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Inspired by the country’s popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.
Frida was a beautiful, complicated and flawed woman; she expressed herself through every aspect of her life and never held back when it came to speaking her mind. She worked hard to step out from behind the shadow of Diego Rivera and created a name for herself. The exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum left me in absolute awe of the woman I had come to admire. They told her story via her clothing, her jewelry, her personal photographs and her paintings. The gave an insight that I hadn’t yet been privy to and I left feeling a larger admiration for Frida Kahlo.
The more I learn about her, the more connected I find myself feeling. Maybe a small art of me hopes that the stories of her brave spirit, rub off on the parts of me that tend to second-guess everything. Frida was Mexican, bisexual and disabled; yet bravely stood up for herself in the most difficult of times. She is the kind of representation we need.
When my niece is old enough to understand the world, the first thing I’m going to teach her about is Frida Kahlo and her unwavering need to be completely unapologetic.
Who is someone that you admire in the LATINX community?