Things That Matter

21 Facts You Didn’t Know About Queer, Feminist Icon Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a visionary Mexican artist born on July 6th, 1907 and passed on July 13, 1954. She lived a short, but quite eventful, 47 years of life. While Kahlo lived in Paris, New York, and San Francisco, Kahlo is known for being fiercely proud of her Mexican heritage, using dress to evoke political meaning.

To this day, her work inspires and resonates still with the queer, female and non-gender-conforming experiences.

1. Frida Kahlo is the OG Selfie Queen.

CREDIT: @jollenelevid / Twitter

Most people, when they think of Frida Kahlo’s artwork, think of her self portraits. During her life, her art was eclipsed by her husband’s, Diego Rivera. Only until after she passed and the Feminist Revolution erupted in the 1970’s did the public truly appreciate her refusal to be defined by anyone else, and her whole-hearted self acceptance, as depicted in her portraits.

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”

2. Most of Kahlo’s paintings are not of herself.

CREDIT: @artfridakahlo / Twitter

Of her 143 paintings, 55 are self portraits and the other 88 are not. She actually painted mostly still-life images of fruit and flowers alongside political symbols.

What do you think of the porcelain blonde girl in the white dress peering over the bed of tropical fruit?

3. Kahlo was in a terrible bus accident when she was 18 years old.

CREDIT: @BestOfMx / Twitter

One September morning, Frida and her boyfriend boarded a bus that would collide with a train. Her boyfriend remembers the bus as “bursting into a thousand pieces.” A handrail ripped through Kahlo’s torso.

Later, he recounted, “Something strange had happened. Frida was totally nude. The collision had unfastened her clothes. Someone in the bus, probably a house painter, had been carrying a packet of powdered gold. This package broke, and the gold fell all over the bleeding body of Frida. When people saw her, they cried, ‘La bailarina, la bailarina!’ With the gold on her red, bloody body, they thought she was a dancer.”

The column here represents her fragile spine, which would cause chronic pain for the rest of her life.

4. While bedridden, Kahlo painted her first paintings.

CREDIT: @toadstool_house / Twitter
Kahlo broke her spinal column, collar bone, ribs, pelvis, fractured her right leg in 11 places, dislocated her shoulder and even lost her fertility. She would live in pain for the rest of her life, but her mother’s invention to arrange a special easel near her bed eased her pain.

5. Kahlo dreamed of becoming a doctor, but instead endured more than 30 surgeries in her lifetime.

CREDIT: @arthistoryfeed / Twitter

Before the accident, she suffered polio as a child and was pursuing medicine. The injuries from the accident forced her instead into grief over what was lost, especially her ability to bear children.

The accident irreparably damaged her uterus, causing several devastating miscarriages. Above is a self portrait titled Henry Ford Hospital, that depicts what she lost.

6. Kahlo preferred long skirts to cover her leg.

CREDIT: @fequalsHQ / Twitter

“I must have full skirts and long, now that my sick leg is so ugly.”

Her leg was left severely deformed from the polio, and modern doctors now think she may have also had spina bifida.

7. Her right leg was amputated at the knee towards the end of her life.

CREDIT: @artfridakahlo / Twitter

You can see how her right foot on the left is withered from the polio. Eventually it developed gangrene. The right is an image Frida drew in her diary. She tried to make light by writing, “Feet, why do I want you if I have wings to fly?”

8. Frida Kahlo’s father was German.

CREDIT: @toadstool_house / Twitter

Her father suffered a similar fate, moving to Mexico after epilepsy developed by an accident ended his university studies. Her mother was half Spanish and half indigenous Oaxacana.

9. Frida was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, but dropped the ‘e’.

CREDIT: @SalvadorSalort / Twitter

Frieda comes from the German word “friede”, which means peace. Ironically, she dropped the ‘e’ in 1935 to avoid being associated with Germany during Hitler’s rule. 

10. Kahlo met her husband and famous muralist, Diego Rivera, in the Mexican Communist Party.

CREDIT: lupitovi / Pinterest

They met at a party, and she asked him to judge her work. He said that her paintings had “an unusual energy of expression, precise delineation of character, and true severity.”

Their relationship was volatile. He was 20 years older than her and immediately left his then second-wife to marry Frida Kahlo. Kahlo and Rivera divorced and remarried a year later. They both had extramarital affairs, Rivera having one with Frida’s sister.

11. Frida Kahlo was queer AF.

CREDIT: @GiuseppeTurrisi / Twitter

In all the ways, from her gender expression to her sexuality. She once said, “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”

Many historians now believe that Diego’s self-professed pride in being a womanizer is what gave her so much untold turmoil and pain.

But, soon things changed when she moved to Paris…

12. Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker fell madly in love in Paris 1939.

CREDIT: “Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker – a Fabulous Romance” Digital Image. MusArtBoutique. 6 July 2018.

Josephine Baker was working for the French Military Intelligence agency at the time, working against Hitler. Baker was also a singer, and both of them became famous in town for being openly bisexual.

13. Rare photos have surfaced showing Kahlo dressed in suits in family photos.

CREDIT: “Frida 2.” Digital Image. Bustle. 6 July 2018.

This picture was taken when she was 17 years old, just one year before the bus accident that would change everything. Frida Kahlo truly pushed the boundaries, and unapologetically so.

14. She even painted a self portrait of herself in a suit.

CREDIT: “Frida 5.” Digital Image. Bustle. 6 July 2018.

Her hair was in pieces all around her on the ground, and she held a pair of scissors to her groin. Historians always assumed it was a threat to Diego Rivera for his infidelity or some kind of message of self-hate.

15. Kahlo redefined Mexican mythology in her work.

CREDIT: @ransomcenter / Twitter

Monkeys are usually symbols of lust in Mexican and Colombian mythology, but Kahlo always depicts them as tender, protective symbols.

Perhaps a message to all of us recovering Catholics that there’s nothing threatening or inherently wrong about lust.

16. Kahlo’s “The Frame” was the first piece of Mexican art purchased by the Louvre.

CREDIT: @neongreece / Twitter

Her work, today, also garners more money than any other female artist. While she was alive, Pablo Picasso took an interest in her work, alongside other surrealists, to which she responded:

They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.

17. Kahlo had several exotic pets…like monkey exotic.

CREDIT: @ReadingInHeels / Twitter

Pictured above is her fawn, Granizo. She also had a few Mexican hairless Xoloitzcuintli (that hairless dog breed that was coveted by the Aztecs), a pair of spider monkeys named Fulang Chang and Caimito de Guayabal, an Amazon parrot called Bonito and an eagle named Gertrudis Caca Blanca.

18. Kahlo arrived to her first art show in an ambulance.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Lisa Wall Rogers. 6 July 2018.

During her last year of life, she scored her first solo exhibition in Mexico. Against doctor’s orders, Kahlo asked the ambulance to take her from the hospital to her exhibit, and she pulled up as if in a limousine.

19. At one point, Kahlo was force fed to keep her alive.

CREDIT: @Hamiltoniana / Twitter

Her many surgeries and illnesses brought a lack of appetite. Her doctor ordered that she be sent to bed rest and be fed a fattening purée of food every two hours.

The ladder depicted here is what she would use to paint from her bed, only to be replaced by a disgusting array of animal products.

On the back of the painting, she wrote: “Not the least hope remains to me…Everything move in time with what the belly contains.”

20. Kahlo has become a feminist icon.

CREDIT: @HarvardLibrary / Twitter

While during her life, she was known as the wife of Master Mural Painter Diego Rivera with a side hobby, she lived and painted the fullest expression of her self. Her paintings give deeply personal insight into the female experience, especially that of a disabled, queer experience during a time it was anything but OK to be that.

I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.

21. Frida was born and died in the same house, Casa Azul.

CREDIT: @QatarandYonder / Twitter

Her home has since been made into el Museo de Frida Kahlo, in Mexico City. You can go visit the home that housed so much recovery, inspiration, and fearlessness.


To show your love for Frida Kahlo, check out the merchandise we have featuring some of her famous quotes. Shop here. 

Snapchat And El Pollo Loco Is Using Augmented Reality To Let People Revisit Lost Murals In Los Angeles

Culture

Snapchat And El Pollo Loco Is Using Augmented Reality To Let People Revisit Lost Murals In Los Angeles

El Pollo Loco

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, El Pollo Loco is paying tribute to lost Latino heritage in Los Angeles by restoring a series of murals across the city. Through the power of Snapchat and augmented reality, the California-based food chain is teaming up with Warren Brand, a curator and board member of Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, to have users go to five blank walls in Los Angeles where iconic murals used to be. There, you can open the Snapchat app, tap on the background to prompt the World Lenses feature and point your phone at the wall. Users will then see a mural that was once located there come to life on their phone screen. The various five mural locations can be found by visiting the website Lostmuralsla.com.  

“We wanted to pay tribute to our Hispanic heritage and Los Angeles roots by preserving the lost Latino artwork and culture for a new generation to experience,” says Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer at El Pollo Loco. “For us, this is more than just a moment in time, this is part of our continued commitment to serve the communities that molded and influenced our company.

The campaign is more than just a showcase of cool technology but a way to educate and spread awareness on an issue many might not be aware of. 

Credit: El Pollo Loco

Los Angeles has a deep and profound history when it comes to murals. During the late 1960s and ’70s, Latino artists took to walls to express views on political and social issues, including student uprisings and civil rights struggles. This coincided with the Chicano Pride movement during that period that flourished in East LA and the San Fernando Valley. 

With all this explosion of creativity happening, LA would be referred to as the “mural capital of the world,”  with an estimated 2,500 murals up on city walls during the height of this movement. Then, they started disappearing. According to El Pollo Loco, “Around 60 percent of murals in Los Angeles have vanished due to whitewashing, censorship, carelessness, or a lack of resources for preservation.” 

This was reason enough for the company to bring awareness to this and celebrate the legacy of these murals. Murals are also a part of the history of El Pollo Loco as the food-chain had it’s start in LA and has a mural of it’s own at it’s first store. 

“Los Angeles, one of the greatest mural capitals of the world, has seen an estimated 60 percent of murals vanish experts say,” Acoca said. “Because Los Angeles has been our hometown since 1980 and is the city that inspired the soul of our brand, we want to honor it and our mutual Hispanic heritage.”

In this spirit, El Pollo Loco will also be restoring some murals of their own, including one at its original location.  

Credit: El Pollo Loco

While the campaign will run through October 15, El Pollo Loco will be making some permanent fixtures on LA city walls. To ensure that this restoration of murals survives, the company will be donating its own storefronts as canvases to new murals.

“El Pollo Loco is paying homage to its heritage and the art that was once on Los Angeles’ walls by donating storefronts as the canvases to new murals. The first mural will be painted on El Pollo Loco’s original restaurant location on Alvarado Street, which since opening in 1980 has featured an indoor mural depicting life in Sinaloa, Mexico, the childhood home of the company’s founder,” Acoca said. 

For LA-based muralists Juan Hector Ponce and Hector “Hex” Rios, this campaign is personal to them as some of their work was once erased due to whitewashing. They both were contacted by El Pollo Loco to be a part of the project and help recreate some of their past work. Ponce and his son will be recreating a storefront as part of the campaign that will be a permanent fixture. He says that he is confident that a new generation will take a lot from this campaign and be able to lead a new era of murals in the city. 

“The new generations, with use of technology and the internet, are stronger than previous generations. And those of us older painters still left are proud to see them create,” Ponce said. “While it saddens me that at times people don’t appreciate the beauty of our walls, it serves as a reminder of how important it is that we as a community continue painting more of them.

You can find the digital murals at the following locations:

“Nuestra Gente es Linda y Poderosa” – 2841 Boulder Street, Los Angeles

“Hex BBOY” – 417 East 15th Street, Los Angeles

“SK8 Still Lives” – 7753 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

“Migration” – 1262 South Lake Street, Los Angeles

“Zapata” – 2000 W 6th Street, Los Angeles

READ: Historic Chicano Murals Were Whitewashed All Over Los Angeles But A New Movement Is Bringing Them Back

Nine Unexpected Frida Kahlo Costumes That Will Slay This Halloween

Fierce

Nine Unexpected Frida Kahlo Costumes That Will Slay This Halloween

www.shessobright.com

It’s that time of year again—leaves are changing, brujas are cackling, and we’re all trying to figure out qué demonios to wear for Halloween. Of course, the Frida Kahlo traje is a go-to homage, especially if you want to celebrate beauty, authenticity, and creativity with your costume. Yes, her flower headdresses and flowing folk skirts are quintessentially Kahlo, but as an artist and innovator, she was always playing with her appearance. 

If you want to honor the legendary artista this Halloween, here are some unique ideas that will wow Frida fans everywhere.

Genderbending Frida in her classic men’s suit

credit: kew studio / Pinterest.com 

Kahlo was an artist known for taking fashion conventions and turning them on their head. She was also known to embrace androgyny, emphasizing traits that were traditionally masculine (like her unibrow and facial hair) in her prolific self-portraits. She may be remembered for long braids, dangly earrings, and floral designs, but her openness to her masculine side made Frida who she was—and that’s also worth remembering.

Opt for a slick suit that does the queen justice
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Asos.com 

For the ultimate boyish Frida look, try a cream-colored tailored suit (snag a tie and vest from a bf or bro). Top it off with a slicked-back bun and filled-in brows! Satin Double Breasted Suit Jacket, $89, asos.com

Androgynous Frida, but with a feminine twist

credit: Smithsonian / Pinterest.com

Can’t get enough of that androgynous Frida vibe? We can’t, either. If you’re aiming for a slightly more casual look, you’ve probably got all the goods in your closet already. Pull on some dark jeans, a classy button-up, and a pair of bold earrings for a simple yet artsy ensemble, fit for Frida herself.

Choose an ornate necklace to spice it up 

Etsy.com

Want to dress the look up a bit without being too flashy? Add a splash of glam with a vintage statement necklace to keep it quick and easy, but with a more refined look. Handmade Bib Statement Necklace, $32, etsy.com

Frida kicking back on the terraza 

credit: Fridakahlo.org

Even in cool and casual linen digs, Frida exuded total elegance and grace. You’re hoping to embody her complete badassery in comfy, warm, flattering clothes, right? Then this soft, unassuming getup should be your go-to. You may feel like you’re in your pajamas (YAS), but slip on some high-heeled gaucho boots and you’ve got yourself an edgy look!

Wear a stylish linen tunic that lets accessories shine

Etsy.com

Whether you opt for classic cowboy boots or sexy stilettos, your linen tunic will be a perfect canvas for the finer details of your outfit. Plus, it’s the kind of thing you can wear again and again, even after Halloween’s over! Long Black Linen Tunic Top, $69, etsy.com

Frida in all her gothic glamour

credit: theguardian.com / Pinterest.com 

Okay, okay, finally something fancy! In addition to her characteristically colorful wardrobe, Frida could rock a demure and minimalist style. This look is not only chic—but lace and black velvet both totally fit the aura of the spooky season, making it a perfect option for any costume party.

Choose a shawl like Frida’s, with delicate details

Amazon.com

Frida’s frocks were always intricately crafted, often showing off meticulous, thoughtful flourishes. If you’re planning to mimic this classic black look, be sure to snag a garment that has a little something special, like this shawl with floral pattern and fringe. Black Burnout Robe with Fringe, $86, amazon.com

Frida…with a doily on her head

credit: Artsy.net / Pinterest.com

Frida was an artist, and artists often go to strange lengths to express themselves. She is not only wearing a cute AF sweater in this photo—a cropped cardigan would be a great substitute, btw—but she has adorned her head with…not flowers, not fabric, but paper? Lace? What is a doily, anyway?

Etsy.com

In Mexico, papel picado is used to adorn all sorts of Mexican fiestas, and at the end of the day, it’s essentially a doily. If you’re looking to infuse your costume with a bit of symbolism—and you’re into the whole DIY approach to Halloween—consider using papel picado to achieve this playful look! Since she was a Mexican artist, incorporating this tradition into your outfit would add another layer of depth to your Kahlo tribute. Plus, you can emulate her even further as you flex those creative, crafty muscles! Beautiful Dreamy White Papel Picado Banner, $29, etsy.com

Frida in traditional Tehuana dress

credit: messynessychic.com / Pinterest.com

Widely regarded as quintessential Mexican dress, Frida was particularly fond of the Tehuana traje, with its ornate huipiles and full skirts. Native to Oaxaca, the Tehuana traje is symbolic of a largely matriarchal society, commanding a sense of deep respect and feminine power. 

Artnet.com

Tehuana women don these gorgeous outfits to loudly and proudly celebrate a wide variety of velas (traditional fiestas)—so it’s probably not a good idea to try imitating their traditional fashion. However, you can purchase authentic Mexican-made Tehuana garments at this Etsy shop, in other online stores, and (duh) in Tehuantepec!

Regardless of which Frida look you choose, use this Halloween as a way to honor her groundbreaking history. ¡Te queremos, Frida!