20 January 2014

I Drank Down My Sorrows, But The Damned Things Learned How To Swim

"The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration." -- Frida Kahlo

I first discovered Frida Kahlo when I was about 13 years old. I was visiting family in Medellin, Colombia, where I am from originally. For some reason or another, my uncle wanted to make it a point to go to every tourist destination the city had to offer. Most of my trips to Colombia have always revolved around spending as much time as possible with friends and family, and I always steer clear of anything touristy so as not to seem like a visitor in my own homeland. I stand out enough being 5'10" and pale-skinned, though at 13 I was probably more like 5'6" and pasty. But I humored my uncle regardless, because as one of my favorite relatives, I didn't want to disappoint him.

I can't remember all the places we visited. There were just so many. There was the Fernando Botero museum and the aquarium and a few cathedrals. I can't even tell you where it was that I saw Frida Kahlo's 1946 painting "The Litter Dear" or whether it was even the original or just a print replica. At the time, I thought it was the original, of course.

Though I'd always appreciated art, I never really stopped to think about Hispanic artists and their contributions to not just the artistic world, but social perceptions of Latinos/Latinas in general. Frida was a bisexual, Mexican woman painting in the first half of the 20th century. Her sexuality, gender and race made her something of an anomaly amongst prominent artists of the time. But she was so strong. Despite being crippled, despite being in a ridiculously tumultuous relationship with artist and womanizer Diego Rivera (the hothead that he was), despite being in the minority, she excelled in everything that she did. It is very evident from the macabre, grim works to come out of that mind that this was a woman consumed with pain and grief and more pain. But also beauty. Pure, unadulterated beauty.

I love Frida's self-portraits -- I really do. There is nothing narcissistic about them. Nothing feigned. But "The Little Deer" -- the painting of her face on a deer's body with arrows shot through its core -- has stuck with me for 10 years. Something about it resonated with my 13-year-old self, and still with my almost 23-year-old self. Maybe the feeling of dozens of different antagonistic thoughts and people and emotions being thrown at you whilst you lose yourself a little more each time (not to be depressing, though that's impossible when discussing Frida). I just love her. I love what she represents. I love that she gave Latinas a voice at a time when Hispanic women weren't really acknowledged as anything other than sex symbols. 

Anyway, rant complete. You can see why I was drawn to this dress, though. I received it a while back from amazingly talented designer Janet Zuniga of Vintage Galeria, an Etsy shop that creates custom-made pieces suited to your taste and size. The shop is all about retro rockabilly with a dark edge: think Frankensteins, deathly roses, macabre Virgin Mary's and all things Day of the Dead. I went for the halter cut because I like how it shapes my shoulders, not that you can tell because it was so chilly today that I couldn't bear to be without a jacket. I know this is more of a summer dress, but I woke up with the feeling of just needing to wear it. And consequently needing to re-watch Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo in the biopic of her life, because Salma killed it.

Sometimes I pull silly faces. It happens. I like it.
I think Paddy and I enjoyed how our shadows made an "M" shape. How Migg Mag appropriate. 
Get the look:
Visit Vintage Galeria for a huge selection of custom-made dresses & more
Stop, Sign and Look Heel, ModCloth
Sporty Varsity Jacket (similar), Forever21, $48
Handbag, Vintage, My Mama's Closet


  1. Frida had such power in all of her works. there was no fakery as you said and you could every tear and every hurt feeling and shattered dream in the strokes of the brush.

    You loo divine in that ensemble as well. My fashion knowledge is zero, you know this, but that suits you and the topic and the scenery so beautifully.

    1. I adore her with a passion. Art that comes from pain and torment is often the most beautiful, I find. Maybe the most honest? Thank you as always for being tremendously kind.

  2. Frida was an amazing artist, and the painting you show here is definitely a poignant one. In a way, it also expresses deep empathy for creatures other than human beings. I have yet to see the movie, but if you are a fan of it then I am sure it must be amazing.
    The dress looks wonderful on you! You rock it with your grace and curves.

    1. Thank you! And you're definitely right about the painting; it has a side to it that delves into acceptance of creatures other than humans. I'm just drawn more to the grimmer, self-analysis I guess :p Definitely watch the film, Salma Hayek does such a phenomenal job at portraying Frida.

  3. Frida Kahlo was amazing. You are amazing. That dress is amazing.

    1. Erm not as amazing as YOU. We can probably do this back and forth for ages.

    2. <3 we definitely could

      I reflected on this post more after reading it first time around, and came back to this line: "I love that she gave Latinas a voice at a time when Hispanic women weren't really acknowledged as anything other than sex symbols." It's really true. Some of the most powerful artists, the ones who resonate with me the most, really worked to expand perceptions of identity. Or maybe they weren't working to do that specifically, but it happened because they were expansive, complex people who didn't fit the box that society wanted to put them in. I respect those groundbreakers so much and am so grateful for their work. Thank you for writing this post that made me remember to think about that!

    3. It means a lot to me to hear it made you reflect so much! That's one of the best compliments I could get, really. I am 100 percent in agreement. As with most things (art, literature, journalism, fashion, humans in general), I am always drawn to the things/people who break norms and leave their designated boxes behind in the aid of creativity and awareness and acceptance for differences. I love Hunter S. Thompson and Into the Wild, and Paul Simon and Frida for these reasons. Probably loads more. I think she did so much in terms of not just race, but sexuality and gender as well. Definitely for Latinas, but undoubtedly for all women.


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