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Relatives win injunction stopping sales of Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

MEXICO CITY -- Distant relatives of the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo said Friday they have won a temporary injunction that stops sales of a Frida Barbie doll. Kahlo's great-niece Mara de Anda Romeo argues that Mattel doesn't have the rights to use Kahlo's image as part of its Inspiring Women series.

According to a copy of the ruling, the toy maker and department stores in Mexico must stop commercializing the doll until the issue is resolved.

Pablo Sangri, a lawyer for de Anda Romeo, said those named in the suit can appeal the ruling. 

Mexico Frida Kahlo

In this April 14, 1939 file photo, painter and surrealist Frida Kahlo, who was the wife of noted Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, poses at her home in Mexico City.

AP

Mattel has said it worked with the Panama-based Frida Kahlo Corp. which it claims has rights to the artist's image. The corporation said it got the rights through Kahlo's niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, more than a decade ago.

"This Barbie doll is meant to honor Frida Kahlo's great legacy and story," Mattel said in a statement Friday. "We followed the correct steps to secure permission and look forward to the matter being resolved in court."

Critics say the doll doesn't reflect Kahlo's heavy, nearly conjoined eyebrows, and its costume doesn't accurately portray her elaborate Tehuana-style dresses.

That is, it's more Barbie-like than Frida-like. 

Barbie is an American icon that has often been criticized as promoting an unrealistic body image and consumerist lifestyle. Kahlo was a lifelong communist who died in 1954 before the doll was introduced.

Mexican actress Salma Hayek, who portrayed the painter in a 2002 film, lambasted the doll after its release, saying on Instagram that Kahlo "never tried to be or look like anyone else. She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie," CBS Los Angeles reports.