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November 15, 2018

I was six years old when I first saw one of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits. I remember not being very impressed, the painting was so small. After all, I had heard my mom tell the story about Frida’s tragic bus accident, which left her with a crippling disability and caused her infertility.  Frida found her solace in painting and became one of the most iconic Mexican and, therefore, Latina female artists in the world. Yet, somehow, I was expecting something more.

My relationship with Frida changed as I turned into a woman. Each time I look at one of her paintings, I notice something different. The thorns piercing her neck in “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” as she stares solemnly at the viewer, quietly enduring the pain. The symbolism in the way she paints animals in “The Broken Column,” as if she were more comfortable in nature than in her own flesh. An intimate glimpse at her personal pain in her painting “The Broken Column.” Frida helped define me as a Mexican woman and helped shape my own identity. She’s helped me feel comfortable in my own skin, giving me confidence when I say that I am both Mexican and American and when I say “yo soy feminista.”

As I work with survivors of domestic violence, I have learned that the importance of identity is striking. When you feel comfortable in exploring your identity, the path to healing becomes clearer. This is a homage to Frida, may she help more Latina women feel comfortable in their own skin and proud of their heritage.