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News > Latin America

Mexican Court Bans Sales of Frida Kahlo Barbie Doll

  • Barbie's Frida Kahlo doll.

    Barbie's Frida Kahlo doll. | Photo: Mattel

Published 20 April 2018

David Peña, of the Democratic Lawyers organization, said Kahlo's family could use the ruling in Mexico as a precedent to bring a similar case in the United States.

A Mexican judge banned the sale of Mattel's controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie dolls Thursday and has ordered the United States toy giant and its distributors "to refrain from any act tending to use the brand, image, and work of Frida Kahlo."

Pablo Sangri, the lawyer representing the descendants of the celebrated, anti-capitalist painter, said the decision also recognized that the rights to Kahlo's image belong solely to her family.

US Toy Giant Mattel Faces Criticism After Misrepresenting Frida Kahlo's Appearance

The ruling will go into effect immediately throughout MexicoMattel can, however, appeal the decision. 

"This litigation is in its first stage. We approached the judge and asked for certain precautionary measures that would allow us to protect our rights over the intellectual property of Frida Kahlo," said Sangri.

Kahlo's family says they will wait until the case is complete in Mexico before filing a similar lawsuit in the United States, where Mattel's headquarters is located.

"I am delighted because I believe that justice is taking place... We, the Kahlo family, are the ones who have the rights to all these things," said Kahlo's niece, Mara Romeo Pinedo.

David Peña, of the Democratic Lawyers organization, said Kahlo's family could use the ruling in Mexico as a precedent, making it easier for them to bring the same case in a U.S. court.

Mattel launched the Frida Kahlo Barbie doll, along with dolls depicting several other renowned women, on Women's Day. However, many believed that the Kahlo doll's physical characteristics are far removed from the artist's actual appearance. The run-of-the-mill doll version failed, for example, to depict the iconic unibrow and other body hair which were integral parts of Kahlo's image.

Born in 1907, Kahlo was best known for her self-portraits in which she often portrayed her pain and experiences, mainly as a consequence of an accident in her youth in which her spinal column and several bones fractured, as well as her tumultuous relationship with muralist Diego Rivera.

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