Mara de Anda Romeo has strong opinions on Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s image being used by Mattel for a Barbie doll in the company’s Inspiring Women series.
It’s an opinion that matters in this case, because de Anda Romeo is Kahlo’s great-niece. She’s lawyered up and says Mattel doesn’t have the rights to use Kahlo’s image, but she’s not seeking money, according to The Associated Press.
She wants the doll to be redesigned.
“I would like the doll to have traits more like Frida’s, not this doll with light-colored eyes,” de Anda Romeo told the BBC.
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But what lies right above the eyes has also become a sticking point in the row over the doll’s existence and appearance. The AP reports that critics of the doll complain it doesn’t accurately reflect one of Kahlo’s most distinctive features: her heavy, nearly unified eyebrow.
In a statement obtained by the BBC, the artist’s family said, “Mrs. Mara Romeo, great-niece of Frida Kahlo, is the sole owner of the rights of the image of the illustrious Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.”
But according to the Daily Beast, Mattel insists it went through the proper channels to obtain the rights to use Kahlo’s image, from the Frida Kahlo Corp. and another niece named Isolda Pinedo Kahlo.
The Inspiring Women series also features dolls made in the likenesses of Amelia Earhart and mathematician Katherine Johnson.