Examining The Hard Life Of Frida Kahlo: As Inspiration

There’s something that tells me perhaps women have it harder? Is it my own struggles that never cease that bring me to this realization? Perhaps. However those struggles of mine are mirrored by other women – friends, sisters, artists, writers, and a bevy of women before and I’m sure after me.


It seems women are set up and made to feel great love and abundant joy, but from the outpouring of the heart and the vastness of the depths of feeling that reside inside us comes great pain and suffering.

And yes there is no doubt all of us suffer, but it seems women suffer far more greatly. In the realm of the heart women seem to struggle unendingly. Always working in some form or fashion to come to terms with some level of heartache, betrayal, neglect, aching.

While I’m never a proponent of comparative suffering there are circumstances that welcome it. We each need our time to grief and heal and recover. And yes be so fully with that grief in those moments that we may become so idle for a time and that is perfectly fine.

However there is a time to grieve and then there is time to get up, rise up, put on your big girl pants and get back at it.

And in examining the tragic life of an icon like Frida Kahlo we see her life had no shortage of tragedy and extraordinarily seemed to be totally full of it. There was no shortage of heartache for this brave iconic figure who leaves a body of work so profound mirroring some of her greatest tragedies.

We can see it depicted here in her – Kahlo, The Two Frida’s Painting.

Frida, The Two Kahlo’s

I think the grief pulls the art in ways that only grief can. It seems the case with all great creatives. They had tragic lives.

Frida’s life was exceptionally so.

Her body was ailed by an accident at a young age. A metal rod going through her body left her with severe pain that she’d endure throughout her life.

She then at a young age met Diego Rivera – who’d become her lifelong companion, the greatest love of her life and he would offer up great heartache with his inability to be loyal. He broke her many times with his illustrious affairs.

They painted together and her heart was his as long as she’d live.

She desperately wanted to have children and miraculously became pregnant, but the doctors warned she would not be able to carry the baby to term because of her physical disability from the accident. She tried anyway, but lost the baby.

Frida was a force to be reckoned with and was so adamant about having a baby she tried again. Losing another child.

Then more physical ailments led to the amputation of her leg. She was so out of this world and could draw such magnanimous strength that she adorned her prosthetic leg in flowers not letting it define her.

What was it about this woman who had endured such pain – physical, emotional, the inability to carry a child to term. So many women are defined by motherhood and depend on it to feel whole. It’s most women’s plight. I like Frida have no children and know intimately the agony this must have caused her.

I however do not agonize over it although it was a pipe dream of mine to bear children at some stage in my life. A dream that came and went.


She turned to women as a means for companionship, reassurance, healing a broken heart. A few offered her great comfort, but her heart was always with Diego. He never strayed far from deep within the inner crevices of her heart. She loved others, was intimate, had her affairs, but her heart always belonged to him irrespective of his philandering.


He was so God awful that he ultimately committed the most egregious betrayal of all. He took on a relationship with Frida’s biological sister. This to Frida was too much to bare and it ultimately lead to their divorce. She left him for this. Diego never anticipated Frida would ever muster up the courage to leave.

He felt so strongly her commitment that he presumed she’d always be around.

Ironically, they remarried a year later.


Frida spent her last years in constant physical agony. She was on pain pills and at 47 years old she passed on into eternal light. Those closest to her believe it was an intentional slow death – overdosing on pills that ultimately lead to her death. Her last words left no question of the extraordinary life and iconic stature.

“ I hope the exit is joyful and I hope to never come back.”



There seems to be a deeper sense of something with those who came with a big legacy in tow. It seems they knew things or tapped in, in ways that were more prolific.

It seems the tragedy far too often is the underpinning or catalyst of that creativity. Hemingway committed suicide. Tesla’s beautiful mind invented the future, one of the greatest genius’ of the century, but lead a miserable life. Van Gogh had mental troubles. Yayoi Kusama – check out my post here – was outcast by the Japanese, but had remarkable gift when armed with a canvas and a paint brush. Frida leaves her own great legacy of pain and conflict brought to life through her works of art. The first great Mexican female artist, but not the last.

Frida’s art has travelled the world over – her paintings have adorned the walls of the greatest museums along with other greats.


It seems that there are those who suffer and allow that suffering to shape their life. They allow their shortcomings to keep them in a space of idleness. And then there are those who can suffer and allow those hardships to propel them to do more, be more. We have a choice. None of us will ever be without some form of suffering in life, but we can choose to use those experiences as a means to step up, find resolve, see what we are truly made of.

And while I don’t believe in comparing my suffering to yours or yours to mine I believe there are greats like Frida who we can lean on in times of uncertainty. We can use their lives as examples of the power of belief, the power of overcoming and catapulting ourselves into some extraordinary space of resilience and resolve, fortitude to continue no matter what life throws at us. Let us use the tragedies of her life to as a means to see what is possible, what we humans are made of and capable of no matter how hard it gets.

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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