Reflecting on Frida Kahlo’s Birthday and The Importance of Recognizing Ourselves for (in) Each Other
by Mia Mingus
Today is Frida Kahlo’s birthday. In honor of her and her work, I took time to sit, breathe and reflect on Frida and all that her work has meant to me. I often think about Frida and what it means to recognize each other, as disabled queer women of color. I don’t know if Frida would have described herself as “disabled;” if she would have even used that language, that thinking. Would she have thought of herself as what we understand as “queer,” using whatever language and words she chose around her open bisexuality? I don’t know.
I found Frida when I was young, and it seems I have been continuing to find her my whole life. Frida was originally introduced to me when I was a young teenager as a feminist symbol; as a “strong woman of color artist.” As one of the few non-black woman of color thrown in amongst majority white women, I remembered her. It was only later that I found out she, like me, had polio as a child and about her bisexuality. For me, Frida was a symbol of one of the few disabled queer women of color that I knew of. Her paintings conveyed things beyond words about bodies, death and pain at a time before I had the tools and language with which to talk about disability, surgeries, legs, spines, backs, pain, womanhood, suicide, shame, desire and self-hate. She was a necessary reflection of parts of me when I felt so alone, cut-off, isolated and like a freak. Her paintings were some of the only visual images of disabled women of color that I had, period. And the fact that she was painting herself and deciding how she wanted to be seen and understood was even more powerful.
Frida helped me to recognize pieces of myself and for that I will forever be grateful…
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