Mattel is being criticized for creating a Barbie doll under the likeness of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, reports ABC. Kahlo's estate-managed Twitter account posted the following letter alleging that Mattel "does not have the proper authorization to use the image of Frida Kahlo." The letter also states that a descended relative of Kahlo, Mara de Anda Romeo, is the "sole owner" of Kahlo's image and likeness. Romeo is Kahlo's great-grand-niece.
Romeo also told the Associated Press through an attorney that "we will talk to [Mattel] about regularizing this situation, 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 a statement, Mattel responded that "the Frida Kahlo Corporation actively participated in the process of designing the doll, Mattel has its permission and a legal contract that grants it the rights to make a doll of the great Frida Kahlo."
Social media users have criticized the Kahlo Barbie doll for depicting her as able-bodied; Kahlo suffered from childhood polio, and was involved in a car accident at 18 that left her with debilitating back pain for the rest of her life. She often used a wheelchair or crutches for mobility. The doll also edits Kahlo's notable facial hair on her upper lip and signature unibrow, which Kahlo used as motifs in her self-portrait paintings.
Some also questioned whether Kahlo, an avowed Communist, would have allowed her likeness to be used on a commercial object.
Earlier this week, the toy company announced the Kahlo doll as part of its Inspiring Women series, to coincide with International Women's Day. The release includes 16 other dolls based on notable successful women, such as director Patty Jenkins and Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim. Mattel did not provide a release date for the dolls.
PAPER has reached out to Mattel for comment.