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Frida Kahlo: Her Impact

By Scout Purdy

Almost everyone has heard the name Frida Kahlo. They know a bit about her, but do they really know about her? Frida Kahlo, the woman who went against all stereotypes, the woman who helped shape feminism into what it is today.

Photograph of Frida Khalo

From early age, Frida Kahlo has had her fair share of pain, pain that lasted throughout her entire life. At the age of six, Kahlo contracted polio, and in her teens, Kahlo was in a severe bus accident, leaving her immobile for a fair amount of time. During this time, however, Frida Kahlo discovered her passion for painting.

She began to using painting as a way to distract herself from the physical pain she endured each day after her accident. But how did this impact feminism?

Firstly, through her pain, Frida Kahlo created over 100 works of art, most portraying topics that were considered taboo at the time, such as gender equality, miscarriages, infertility, and menstruation.

“Henry Ford Hospital” Frida Kahlo, 1932. Created after a traumatic miscarriage.

By not caring what others thought of her work, Frida Kahlo became of the most known artists of all time. She frequently channeled her feelings into her work, like in her painting “Two Fridas”, created in 1939, shortly after her divorce with Diego Rivera. Her feelings of desperation and loneliness filled the canvas after her separation.

“Two Fridas” Frida Kahlo, created in 1939 after her separation from husband Diego Rivera.

Her painting topics were not the only things that helped impact feminism. She defied many gender stereotypes. Many accounts tell that she smoked, drank, and challenged men to drinking tequila, something women did not do during her time. She also dressed in men’s clothing in family photos.

Frida Kahlo was also openly bisexual. During her marriage to Diego Rivera, Kahlo had affairs, as did he, with well known figures such as Josephine Baker and Leo Trotsky. These were openly known affairs with both men and women, something extremely taboo during her time.

So how did Frida Kahlo help shape feminism? She helped pave the way for women to freely express themselves. By not caring about the opinions of others, Kahlo showed women that it is okay to express yourself through “socially unaccepted” ways. She showed that both physical and emotional pain can be used to create things that are beautiful, and that people should not shy away from taboo topics. Frida Kahlo: Woman, Artist, Feminist.

Photograph of Frida Khalo, working


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