Text: Julie Schwietert Collazo
Photos: Francisco Collazo
What struck me, as I looked at Francisco’s photos of the women who showed up for the Frida Kahlo look-alike contest at New York City’s La Casa Azul Bookstore, was how each woman embodied Frida.
I didn’t say looked like Frida. I said embodied.
Yes, there was the woman whose eyebrows did seem to arch and join in the way that school kids learning about Frida and men who are afraid of strong women find so uncomfortable they have to joke about her unibrow. But these women weren’t trying to be Frida. Instead, they were each, seemingly, trying to take inspiration from some aspect of Frida’s essence and channel it in her own unique way.
And it was interesting to me, too, what aspects of Frida’s identity or the images of Frida that we are most familiar with were appropriated and interpreted: the oversized jewelry, the intense expressions and fearless eye contact, and the monkey… the monkey! I must have looked at 20 photos before I saw the woman who had the monkey on her shoulder.
The Frida Kahlo look-alike contest was one of many events hosted by La Casa Azul bookstore, which describes itself as “grounded in Latino culture.” If you’re in New York City and want to visit the bookstore, it’s located at 143 E. 103rd Street.
The complete set of Frida Kahlo look-alike photos is available for viewing on Flickr.