Confession time, my friends- Aside from any altruistic motives of spreading stories of female badassery, empowering youth, etc.- my main reason for taking on the task of a monthly blog post was to push myself to find new and interesting champions for my own selfish edification and enjoyment. Because of this, I’ve tried to stay away from those ladies whose names are always at the tip of my tongue (Eva Hesse, I’m looking at you.). Recently, though, a friend asked about a photograph,”Why is Frida Kahlo painting in bed here?”. I realized, (after word-vomiting) that while there are certainly women whose names and work we recognize, that doesn’t mean their stories are as well known as their names, or that these stories are any less deserving of being shared and celebrated.
All of which is to say, I’ve held out as long as I can- This month we’re going to get REAL with my girl, Frida Kahlo
Frida’s life was short, but she lived it to the absolute fullest. As such, there’s a lot that’s already been written about Frida (there’s even a movie by Julie Taymor!), and a lot more that could be written (Love! Romance! Communism and international espionage!). Fantastical details and monkeys aside, what makes Frida my absolute favorite, in addition to her complexity and her passion, is her brutal honesty. Frida managed to create nearly 200 paintings and fill a diary with stories and pictures from her life in a way that feels simultaneously true and mythical, and somehow never once seems like navel-gazing. She looked upon herself and her life and those around her, and spared no unpleasant detail.
She was also incredibly witty and poetic, and absolutely quotable. So, rather than try to tell you everything about everything in Frida’s life as I see it, here, in her own words and images is the lady herself:
“I was born a bitch. I was born a painter.”
“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the train the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”
They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
The most important thing for everyone in Gringolandia is to have ambition and become ‘somebody,’ and frankly, I don’t have the least ambition to become anybody.
“I am nauseated by all these rotten people in Europe – and these fucking “democracies” are not worth even a crumb.”
“My paintings are well-painted, not nimbly but patiently. My painting contains in it the message of pain. I think that at least a few people are interested in it. It’s not revolutionary. Why keep wishing for it to be belligerent? I can’t. Painting completed my life. I lost three children and a series of other things that would have fulfilled my horrible life. My painting took the place of all of this. I think work is the best.”
” Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?
“I hope the exit is joyful and i hope never to return.”
Frida Kahlo embodied so many qualities worth emulating- honesty, passion, confidence, patience and a love of witty, dirty jokes. She was also spot on when it came to wearing whateverthehell she wanted and looking awesome. 3 piece men’s suit? CHECK. A million rings? GET IT. Live animals? WHY NOT. One of her most iconic accessories were her incredible headdresses. As seen in this sweet video, these were often made out of her own hair and flowers. If you would like to borrow some Frida-style but have short hair, are lazy (or in my case, both) have no fear! You have a couple of options:
Rookiemag has a great video tutorial on how to make what they call (and what I will now forever refer to as) ‘flower crowns’
If you happen to find yourself in desperate need for instant Frida-power and no access or time for hot gluing, make a daisy chain!
Frida Kahlo seems to have emerged from the womb dead-set on being a badass. She leaned into the chaos of her life and embraced passionately all the parts of who she was, even those which caused her pain. Let’s all do the same and know that she was talking to us when she said,
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”