Frida Kahlo is not only known for her artistic accomplishments, confronting topics of gender equality, miscarriages, physical ailments, and tumultuous heartbreak. Her rebellious and feminist views were ahead of her time, and one can't help but wonder how she and her views would fit into the feminist values and women's rights movements in our society.
Women have substantially struggled to gain the rights they deserve, trying to break an ongoing stereotype that they should be subjugated to the role of the housewife; seen and unheard. Coming from an upper-middle-class family in Mexico, Frida fearlessly attacked the patriarchal gender roles of the early 1900s, dressing in boy's clothes at school and in family photos, paving the way for androgyny. The self-portraits she shamelessly painted dressed in male clothing are synonymous with a depiction of exaggerated facial hair, a taboo completely considered un-ladylike. She created her own style in contrast to the trends which spread like wildfire across the world.
Kahlo developed her own style through flow colorful dresses in contrast to the tight, form-fitting dresses of the early 1900s farm6.staticflickr.com
Despite the disturbing appearance of some of her paintings, Kahlo used art as a platform to publicize the angst women felt to bring awareness and normalization. Forbidden topics regarding female intimacy were explored very explicitly in her art to exercise nonconformity to the patriarchy. She endured immense challenges throughout her life from the beginning, being disabled by polio, enduring a death-defying bus crash, a tumultuous marriage full of miscarriages and lesbian affairs. Despite her physical and emotional strife, she maintained her sense of self, proving to be an inspiration to women everywhere to this day.
Unconventional beauty was a signature aspect in Kahlo's art farm2.staticflickr.com
Kahlo did not cease to challenge religious and political norms, as she was an avid atheist in a Catholic country, as well as an active member of the Communist party and devout patriot to the extent that she changed her birth year to go with the Mexican Revolution. This lead to a sense of empowerment being instilled within women to use their voice politically and question the ideas that they belong in the house and are to be left unheard.
The modern wave of feminism we live in has given women the liberty to not feel ashamed of their identity- resulting in a newfound appreciation of natural beauty, with models embracing androgyny, body hair, curves, stretch marks, and disabilities. Women are under a much weaker sense of pressure to be a subordinate to the male figures. The stigma against topics such as abortion, equal pay, and sexuality are diminishing rapidly with the masses of empowered women using their voices. Women are persistent in being heard politically, with female politicians, serving as a reminder that the hard work of women has paid off and continues to pave the way for developments.
Nothing stops the modern woman from persisting and resisting the limits imposed by society, just like nothing stopped Frida Kahlo, who continues to serve as an inspiration for women's rights. She gave women the inspiration they needed to have the confidence to keep fighting, and it is safe to assume that she would be proud of the accomplishments her sisters have made.