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Grazia (UK) - - News - FRIDA KAHLO

AT FIRST GLANCE, Theresa May’s de­ci­sion to wear a Frida Kahlo bracelet at last week’s Con­ser­va­tive Party Con­fer­ence was pe­cu­liar, to say the least. Kahlo was a com­mu­nist, af­ter all, who counted Leon Trot­sky as part of her in­ner cir­cle; it’s hard to imag­ine her dreams of a class­less so­ci­ety warm­ing the Tory heart­land.

But then again, tap­ping into the spirit of the iconic Mex­i­can artist is per­haps ex­actly what the be­lea­guered leader needed: Kahlo is a po­tent fem­i­nist hero and an icon of strength, in­de­pen­dence and tri­umph over ad­ver­sity.

Born in 1907, Kahlo was struck down by po­lio as a child and left per­ma­nently crip­pled by a tram ac­ci­dent aged 18. This, as well as her un­ful­filled de­sire to be­come a mother, caused her an­guish, both phys­i­cal and emo­tional. Yet in­stead of run­ning from it, she drew power and even beauty from the pain (‘Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?’, she wrote), chan­nelling it into those dream-like paint­ings that are drenched in sym­bol­ism.

Kahlo is a woman who re­fused to be cast as a vic­tim, a bit-part, or a cameo to her hus­band Diego Rivera. If she were alive to­day, you know she’d rage against Trump and refuse to air­brush her pho­tos. She was de­fi­ant and trans­gres­sive, chal­leng­ing gen­der stereo­types and rais­ing un­com­fort­able, in­ti­mate and vi­tal is­sues sur­round­ing the fe­male body through her work. This is why her life and art still res­onate and ex­cite to­day (there’ll be an ex­hi­bi­tion of Kahlo’s wardrobe at the V&A next year) – and why she en­dures as the ul­ti­mate sym­bol of fe­male em­pow­er­ment. Per­haps that bracelet wasn’t so odd af­ter all.

Frida is an icon of strength over ad­ver­sity

Theresa May wear­ing a Frida Kahlo bracelet at the Con­ser­va­tive Party Con­fer­ence

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