Taking a look at Fridamania, the social media and millenial obsession with Frida Kahlo – I am torn in two. On the one hand, I am thrilled that a brown woman who was a champion for her culture, working in the early part of the twentieth century and fearless in her identity has the visibility and attention that Frida has. But on the flipside, that same visibility has watered down her legacy to the idea of the masses that if you get the “flower crown look” you will be representing yourself as a woman who is free in spirit. When we know how much more it takes to truly embody that spirit internally. Furthermore, we know that magnets, totes and mugs with her image (some of which I do own) will never represent the essence of what this artist has meant to all that have been touched by her.
So the perception of the collective consciousness around her likeness is split. Either she is another commodified icon a la Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevera, Bob Marley that corporations scoop up to pimp the remnants of her power that she left behind from the phenomenon that was her life. Or she is the soft spot that lives with great fervor, deep in the hearts of creatives that see themselves in her.
It’s very apparent that this split perception can co-exist in the age of the millenial. We as a culture are very good at hyping up an image that is attractive of the times. And Frida represents so many layers of the empowered female millenial in this moment. She was a chingona before the term existed. She didn’t care about your hang ups about women with facial hair. She was openly sexually explorative. She was expressive in her outward appearance as much as she was in her work. She was unafraid of her own masculine and feminine. She was extremely vocal politically and epitomizes what a twenty something year old woman is like today.
So while we can’t control what others do, feel or speak. We can celebrate what we want when we want it. Because that’s just what millennials do. The whole reason that I felt drawn to cultivate this project and it’s moving parts, is to understand the woman that has become such a cultural idol, that there are Frida themed weddings being officiated out there. But as for me, it’s through a brown woman living her life just as she pleased that has given me the example to do the same in my own way, on my own time, on my own path and in my own very personal vision.