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Women Who Inspire: Frida Kahlo

Shabby Apple is a woman-owned, woman-run company aiming to empower women as well as dress them. With that mission in mind, this series highlights the many women who inspire us.

Meet Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter and artist who expressed herself through intense and distinctive work.

Five Things To Know:

1. She survived a devastating accident.

In 1925, when she was 18 years old, Kahlo was riding in a bus when it crashed into a trolley car—she broke her spinal column, collarbone and pelvis, along with her right leg and some of her ribs. Her foot was crushed and a metal handrail pierced her abdomen. She survived, and when she was home in a body cast, she started painting from her bed on an easel her mother set up. She used a mirror hanging from the canopy to paint herself.

2. She’s queen of the self portrait.

Many of Kahlo’s works feature her own image—often reflecting pain in her life, including miscarriages, marital problems and many surgeries. "I paint myself because I am so often alone, because I am the subject I know best," she said.

3. Her work wasn’t truly recognized until after her death.

Kahlo is now famed for her striking style—her work is displayed in museums around the world and Salma Hayek played her on film—but she sold relatively few paintings during her life. Historians now laud her emotional work that reflected women’s experience and Mexican culture.

4. She took liberties with her age.

Kahlo’s birth certificate lists July 6, 1907 as her birth date, but she claimed to have been born on July 7, 1910—the year of the Mexican Revolution. She didn’t do it for vanity’s sake—she identified deeply with modern Mexico. Kahlo was politically active, a communist that once hosted Leon Trotsky as a houseguest.

5. She married the same man twice.

Kahlo met Diego Rivera when he was working on a mural at the prestigious Mexico City high school where she was taking pre-medical courses. Rivera became famous for his murals, and years later, the two met again and were married—she was 21 and he was twice her age. The painters had a tumultuous relationship, divorcing after 10 years only to remarry the next year.


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Image via Museo Frida Kahlo.

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Alicia Barney