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Sales of Frida Kahlo Barbie Banned After Artist’s Relatives Win Injunction

A Mexican judge has halted sales of the doll following a dispute over image rights

Courtesy: Mattel

Courtesy: Mattel

Courtesy: Mattel

Relatives of the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who passed away in 1954, have won a temporary injunction that temporarily blocks sales of a controversial Barbie doll modelled on Kahlo. The artist’s great-niece Mara de Anda Romeo claims that doll producer Mattel does not own the rights to Kahlo’s image. Now a judge has halted sales of the doll in Mexico.

Mattel says that it has the right to Kahlo’s image through the Panama-based Frida Kahlo Corporation, which it says ‘owns all the rights’. Mattel commented: ‘Mattel has its permission and a legal contract that grants it the rights to make a doll of the great Frida Kahlo’.

The Kahlo doll was launched by Mattel in March on International Women”s Day, as part of a new series ‘Inspiring Women’. Other dolls include aviator Amelia Earhart and mathematician Katherine Johnston. Mattel described the artist as ‘a celebrated artist, activist and symbol of strength’.

But critics of the doll drew attention both to its appearance, as well as Kahlo’s own feminist and communist politics, as a counter to what they claimed were damaging female body standards Mattel promotes through its dolls. Earlier this year, Salma Hayek, who played Kahlo in Frida (2002) also commented on Instagram: ‘#fridakahlo never tried to be or look like anyone else. She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie.’

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