Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog



3 May 2015




Three Deep

– Cultural


and Frida Khalo

“My NURSE and I,” Frida Kahlo, 1937.

“My Nurse and I,” Frida Kahlo, 1937.

According to one memorial website:

Frida’s mother was unable to breastfeed her because her sister Cristina was born just eleven months after her. She had to be fed by a native Indian wet nurse whom the family hired for that sole purpose but was later fired for drinking on the job. The relationship between them appears distant and cold, reduced to the practical process of feeding. Because it was the adult Frida who had the memory, the baby has an adult head, and because she could not remember her wet nurse’s facial features, she covered her face with a pre-Columbian funerary mask. Frida wrote about this painting saying: “I am in my nurse’s arms, with the face of a grownup woman and the body of a little girl, while milk falls from her nipples as if from the heavens.”

The wet nurse does not embrace nor cuddle Frida… she displays her like a sacrificial offering. The unfurled blank scroll along the lower edge of the painting suggests that Frida thought of it as an “ex-voto” but never inscribed the scroll. In this painting, Frida transformed the “Madonna and Child” mothering image into an expression of loss and separation from her own mother with whom she never really bonded.



kahlo 02

lusty-mint asked:

Mestiza white passing or not is still mestiza.
Many white Latinos don’t consider other
white Latinos unless their 100% European.
So they’re still looked upon and are not white
Latinos. Their mixed. White Latinos are the
ones who are nothing but European ancestry.
Which in this case Frida wasn’t.


lol thats not even true, but regardless the point is that just because frida had an indigenous ancestor somewhere doesn’t mean that she could take any part of indigenous peoples’ culture as if it belonged to her, or that it wasn’t appropriation for her to dress how she did. thats like white girls who have a cherokee ancestor somewhere down the line wearing headdresses or warpaint or anything else. thats not even getting started on how the whole concept of mestizaje in mexico is a white supremacist ideology

frida was protected by her racial background (mostly white) and class (affluent) from the lived realities that people who were actually from indigenous communities in mexico like poverty, destruction of their culture and communities, and not having access toEDUCATION, healthcare, upward mobility etc. why do u think her family had indigenous women as maids? why do u think she was the only one in her family who dressed like that?

same as how now white chicanas who are completely removed from their indigenous roots, communities, and traditions will wear huipiles at conferences and make academic and art careers off of being “mestizas” (cherrie moraga lol) while women who are actually indigenous in mexico and wear huipiles every day are still subject to extreme poverty, high rates of violence, sexual and otherwise, racism, and will never have access to the same institutions as “mestizas”

honestly how many indigenous women back then do u think had access to expensive long-term medical care like she did, orEDUCATION like she did, or could make careers in art? she gained all the access of whiteness but didnt have to deal with any of the real repercussions of being indigenous

thats the issue, not whether u want to accept that she was a white latina or not

So glad to see this finally being discussed. I recommend the 2000 documentary Blossoms of Fire as an introduction to the culture of the Isthmus Zapotecs of Juchitán in southern Oaxaca, Mexico, from which Frida borrowed so much of her dress and other elements of personal presentation. 




she was appropriating

indigenous clothing

and painted herself darker

in her self-portraits












White girls need to stop using Frida Kahlo for their aesthetic. Stop putting her on phone cases and your T Shirt. She hated capitalism and she hated you.

So you know for a fact that Frida hated all white girls hahahaha so fucking funny huh? why is that funny lol  !!!!!! why is any race-related hate funny ????? OH BECAUSE IT IS LOL FUCK EVERYONE OF A SPECIFIC FUCKING RACE YEAH hahahahahhaha so fucking great huh 

“I don’t like gringos at all. They are very boring and all have faces like unbaked rolls.” -actual quote by Frida Kahlo

Frida always said how much she hated white people. Go read a book about her!


“Some gringas have even tried to imitate me and want to dress up like ‘mexicans’, but the poor fools look like turnips” – another actual quote by Frida Kahlo

ok but yall know frida was a white mexican right?

her dad was from germany and her mom was a white-passing mestiza, this is them

kahlo 03

she was appropriating indigenous clothing and painted herself darker in her self-portraits, but i mean look at her with her family. theyre white latinos

kahlo 04

she had indigenous maids and copied their style. so basically she was the first white latina to use mestizaje as an access point to claim indigenous roots she didnt have to pay the social cost for (like a lot of white mexican frida fans today)

like yeah, she talked a lot of shit about gringas, but that doesnt change the fact that she was mostly of european descent herself. and it’s kind of sad/funny that she would be upset at white girls trying to copy her style when she was a white girl copying indigenous style, no crees?



















  1. Sunshine Martinez #
    May 24, 2015

    “frida was protected by her racial background and class”

    “same as how now white chicanas who are completely removed from their indigenous roots, communities, and traditions will wear huipiles at conferences and make academic and art careers off of being “mestizas””

    “ok but yall know frida was a white mexican right? her dad was from germany and her mom was a white-passing mestiza, this is them”


    As Americans, we are all living with the history of imperialism and genocide. Within families, and much more within broader social relationships, there exist so many heartbreaking moments of shame, violation and slaughter.

    Cradled in the relative luxury of American wealth, people of all descents find personal solace by honoring the dress and practice of cultures we have been alienated from.

    The condescending tone of the posted comments is something I am trying to resolve, because I want to learn from what you are putting forth here. I agree that many fans of Frida (and of various cultures worldwide) cavalierly don disembodied motifs. And I think we (Americans) do need to challenge our mindless pop-culture bolstered appropriation habits, but this tone is perverse and humiliating.

    As a person of mixed descent, I see my family live these issues out in conflict with one another. I suspect a lot of us can see how entire generations have spoiled the family well with by internalizing the lie of white supremacy. And with the next political season, there is again coming a fervent call for assimilation.

    We urgently need to talk about these things, but I am worried that the tone set forth in this valid criticism of cultural appropriation risks shutting down the entire conversation.

  2. jhsavbdhgsav #
    September 15, 2015

    ^^^^ reading this made me feel the EXACT same way, and I was wondering whether to bother commenting on this page because I’m not even sure what the main message of these excerpts is supposed to be. But it definitely made me feel uncomfortable, it comes off as very condescending and as a mixed race woman/ “white chicana”/ “mestiza” myself it really hurts that the OP thinks Frida Kahlo, let alone other white-passing latinas, isn’t allowed to honor her OWN ROOTS, because of her supposed entitlement and separation from her culture. It’s certainly not her fault for being born into a wealthier family with a whiter complexion, and for all that she struggled through in her life despite this upbringing the overall tone she’s been given in these posts is very unsettling to me.

    Maybe i’m just taking this personally because I’ve always related to frida so heavily, particularly because of some pretty bad self-hatred and dysphoria i experienced as a child/teen of mixed descent. Not belonging completely to either half of my cultures (as similarly expressed in Frida’s “Two Fridas” painting) made me feel incomplete, and being the only lighter-skinned girl with dark body and facial hair/ a noticeable unibrow and mustache led to a lot of low self-esteem and bullying. Seeing her take her own unconventional traits and even her insecurities, disabilities etc and turning them into something beautiful, seeing her create a beautifully layered and intricate style influenced by her mixed culture and even more beautiful paintings, really made me feel better. This is the first negative thing I’ve read about Frida that’s had to do with frida herself appropriating something (usually it’s the other way around, white girls wearing her face on a t-shirt and dressing like her for halloween)

    Yes, appropriation is a big topic that needs to be discussed and an action among white people (and people who are not of the culture they appropriate) that needs to be stopped, awareness needs to be spread that cultural appropriation isn’t harmless, isn’t just a costume, but is an active erasure of the culture of othersm the borrowing of non-white objects on a white face. However, Frida was white-passing, NOT just white. And she only ever borrowed from her own culture, with respectable enough intentions. While I believe it’s important to be critical of anyone, even your own role models or beloved people in history, I think this is a much more complex topic than what has been said on this page, particularly the hint of a condescending tone at frida’s expense. I could be wrong about this, and this will probably never turn into a discussion, but I felt like I had to say something.

  3. nonbinaryCosteñx #
    October 9, 2015

    Frida wasn’t Zapotec, so even if she had some distant indigenous ancestry, she’s not entitled to wear the huipils of indigenous group she doesn’t have any ties to.

  4. costeñx #
    October 9, 2015

    Frida was a mestiza coded as white, but still, she had no ties to Zapotec culture, apart from her family having Zapotec women work as their maids. Yeah, I respect Frida for being a strong woman and a good painter, but her act of wearing huipils is not one of reclaiming her culture when she’s not a Tehuana and nor had any ties to any communities Istmeño communities.

  5. Ernesto P. #
    February 1, 2016

    So from what I’m reading is that she can’t wear what she feels comfortable wearing? Sounds not very feminist to me. This whole topic sounds like something that applies to toddlers, and how they never want to share even when they don’t play/use their toys anymore. They see someone else enjoying it and are quick to notice and reclaim it.

  6. Yve #
    February 10, 2016

    Generally, culture appropriation has ZERO correlation to feminism. That’s why it doesn’t “sound” that way to you. They do not coincide.

    In order to fully understand this topic is to simply research it. That cultural appropriation is latent bigotry not “something that applies to toddlers”. Outside of Frida Kahlo; cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation ideals have been blurred or moreso–ignored.

    It is in the execution. It is in the integration, integrity and pride. Not as a costume.

  7. natalie #
    March 14, 2016

    it’s called cultural appropriating. you aren’t aloud to use someone else’s culture as your own fashion. actual femenists RESPECT culture.

  8. Jemila #
    February 9, 2017

    Before I leave my comment I am going to be upfront – I am white European and therefore my comments are based on the experiences of someone whose entire cultural upbringing and framework for viewing the world is biased in ways that I try to be aware of but never the less influence my thinking.

    I spent some time in Mexico as a visiting artist and during my time there I found that the history of material culture within the country is very complex and does not always comply with the rules of cultural appropriation that have become very familiar with in the west and the United States. A friend of mine who is a well respected textile historian and collector who has close personal and professional relationships with many of the families who maintain pre-hispanic textile practices. I spoke with him at length about the issues of class, colonialism, appropriation and the boundaries that exist between indigenous and affluent Mexicans. We talked specifically about indigenous forms of textiles, which are all weaving practices- any time you see embroidery, lace, gathering, pleats and velvet in Mexican clothing those are spanish textile technologies introduced through colonialism – however these should not be viewed as lesser, they simply have a complex history – I should add almost all of the clothes you see Frida Khalo wearing fall into this category (I know this because I spent time with the family in Oaxaca who exclusively made most of her clothes and I looked at all the patterns and samples in their archive.) With regards to the indigenous textile technologies it is my understanding that it is the embodies practice of weaving the textiles themselves that has a relationship to the sacred (for lack of a better word). The clothing itself serves practical and decorative purposes – there is not exclusion on who can wear these clothes. It has been more common that affluent Mexicans had no interest in wearing these clothes as it was more fashionable to appear modern and european. The return to an interest in these textiles as everyday wear should not be viewed with one-dimensional attitude toward cultural appropriation. It is necessary to look closely at the complex history of culture, class and indigenous histories of Mexico itself.

    I endeavor to keep educating myself on the complexities of Mexico’s cultural past and present and I am willing to be corrected by someone with a more acute understanding of the cultural reality of Mexico

  9. Jemila #
    February 9, 2017

    Apologies for my grammar and spelling errors!

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  11. xicanism #
    January 25, 2020

    there is some validity to these critiques given the superficial construction of Mexican national identity in the 1920s & 30s by the state which entailed the co-optation of indigenous culture as a ruse for forcing indigenous Mexicans into modernity at the expense of their lands and lives

    that being said, I dont know why i feel a lot of this new criticism of frida kahlo is just a disingenuous agenda to obscure the fact that she was a proud communist ‘til her death

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