10 Lessons to Learn from Frida Kahlo.

Via Elyane Youssef
on Jun 16, 2015
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Frida Kahlo 2

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” ~ Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter, who is best known for her self-portraits.

The ones who personally knew her, described her as “one of history’s grand divas, a tequila heavy drinker, dirty joke-telling smoker, a bohemian who threw festive dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda and her husband, muralist Diego Rivera.”

If I were to introduce her, I would say she is an icon of strength, a victim of love and a genius in art. Frida Kahlo changed the standards of beauty with her unibrow, her right leg—that was thinner than the left one and her indigenous Tehuana dresses.

Being my great inspiration in life, I regard Frida Kahlo as a school of lessons. She should be the role model of every woman because she indirectly showed the world what a woman is capable of, both physically and emotionally.

After many years of admiration for Frida Kahlo, I can finally put on paper what this woman taught me:

Love is forgiveness.

“I had two big accidents in my life: The trolley and Diego; Diego is by far the worse.” ~ Frida Kahlo

Frida was the wife of Diego Rivera, the muralist who was best known for his endless love affairs with women. He was a womanizer who had serious problems with infidelity.

Although none of Frida’s friends nor parents approved of this awkward union, Frida still married Diego. She kept on loving him despite all the pain he caused her.

Frida teaches us that love is forgiveness.

She might not have said it out loud, but staying with him throughout her life, shows us that she did forgive him every time he cheated on her.

Love is unexplainable.

“…the marriage of Frida and Diego is like the union between an elephant and a dove.”

~ Frida’s mother, Matilde Calderon

Whenever I have a discussion about Frida’s life with someone, I always get the same question: “Why did she love him?”

Frida loved Diego for reasons no one understood and she remained faithful in her love for him up until the day she died.

Sometimes people think we fall for the wrong person, but in our own eyes, they’re always right for us. Diego was 42-years-old and 300 pounds while Frida was 22 and 98 pounds. He cheated on her, had little time for her and yet she loved him.

If each one of us looks back at our own experiences, we can understand Frida’s love for Diego. We can never explain the love we had (and maybe still have) for people who hurt us or left us but we can definitely feel it. Frida simply taught me that love is unexplainable.

Love yourself.

“The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to.” ~ Frida Kahlo

To love yourself means to remember yourself, no matter what the circumstances are.

Frida married a man who had little time for her, due to the busy life he lead. She married a man who cheated on her and left her in agony. She suffered from polio, underwent three abortions and had an accident that tucked her away in bed for numerous years.

We live in a time where we’re instantly bedridden if we have a tiny headache. Frida had a broken spine, wore a corset most of her life, had an amputated leg and still she managed to paint.

With all this emotional and physical pain, Frida never forgot herself. She loved herself immensely that she always kept herself busy with painting. Although she loved Diego, she didn’t accept being a doormat who waited for him at home crying. In retaliation, she loved herself enough to go out, make affairs and pleasure herself just the way Diego pleased himself.

Know when to quit.

“I am not sick… I am broken.” ~ Frida Kahlo

Diego had many affairs with many women. But one affair finally pushed Frida to quit. In 1934, after having her third abortion, Frida learned that Diego cheated on her with her younger sister, Cristina.

Afterward, they separated for almost four years and Frida led a life away from Diego.

Frida teaches us that it’s okay not to let go too soon but one must know when it’s time to quit.

Suffering is consciousness in disguise.

“I drank to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learnt how to swim.” ~ Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was plagued by illness starting at a young age. At 18 she went through a tough accident that left her with a broken spine, a fractured vaginal structure. She had hundreds of injuries and died critically ill with pneumonia.

Mentally, emotionally and physically, Frida Kahlo went through intense suffering. And though we don’t realize it, Frida was more conscious than many of us are today.

Her pain was her gate to higher realizations—realizations that we only find through books nowadays. Frida found them through pain.

Keeping a diary is healthy.

“I never paint dreams or nightmares; I paint my own reality.” ~ Frida Kahlo

People usually underestimate the importance of keeping a diary. I bet Frida wouldn’t have been able to live as long if she didn’t let out her pain.

There is only one thing that can truly kill us and it’s called “sadness.” If sadness isn’t expressed, it has the capability of ending a body’s life faster than any disease.

Frida Kahlo is the first in history to write a diary with a brush on canvas. She also kept written diaries with drawings for the last 10 years of her life.

Frida teaches us to express, to paint, to write, to do anything to let out our anger and sadness. She teaches us to make something out of our pain—something beautiful.

Don’t be ashamed of your style.

Frida was regarded as an icon of beauty in Mexico. She was known for her extensive style with her colorful clothes and extraordinary hair braids.

The unibrow and the mustache that people make fun of today, are the very elements that made Frida unique. She left her armpits untouched and decorated her shoulders with fantastic Tehuana dresses.

Frida was best known for her red lipstick, red nail polish and the beautiful smell of perfume that she wore. Kids in her neighborhood used to know she was passing by when they started smelling roses.

Frida taught us to be unique in our style and comfortable in our own skin. She taught us to simply be ourselves.

frida tattoo

Don’t get attached to your plans.

“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”

~ Frida Kahlo

Frida never planned to become an artist. Until she was 18, she was planning to become a doctor and attended a prestigious school that only had 35 girls out of 2,000 students—Frida was among them.

The accident she had at the age of 18 changed the course of her life forever. As a result of being bedridden with a corset, her father gave her his brushes and paint and constructed an easel for her so she can paint while she was in bed.

Just like Frida says, “everything changes, everything moves.” We never know how or when our life can change. Hence, never plan and get attached to your plans.

Women have an abundance strength inside.

“At the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.” ~ Frida Kahlo

I highly believe that women are stronger than men in many aspects and Frida Kahlo stands out today to prove this notion for us.

She is an example of how much a woman can undergo and still be able to stand on her two feet.

With a man who sucked the energy out of her system and an accident that left her with hundreds of injuries and deadly illnesses, Frida teaches us that women are a pile of strength.

Let go.

“I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return.” ~ Frida Kahlo

Frida was an outgoing person who used wise words in her conversations. She loved to smoke, drink tequila and sing off-color songs to guests at the many parties she hosted.

Despite the fact that the doctors tests on her revealed a severe kidney infection, anemia, exhaustion and alcoholism, Frida remained a person who drank, smoked and had fun.

The bottle of tequila and cigarettes never quit her hand.

She held them until her last breath. She just didn’t care much about the consequences. She went through a lot and lost a lot that there was nothing more to lose—she let go, and this is what made her the great Frida.

Relephant bonus:


Relephant read:


3 Benefits of Keeping a Gratitude Journal.


Author: Elyane Youssef

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: courtesy of the author, flickr


About Elyane Youssef

Elyane S. Youssef is an extraterrestrial who was given birth by Earthlings. While living on planet Earth, she fell in love with art, books, nature, writing, photography, traveling, and...pizza. Elyane finds her joy in backpacking and bonding with locals. To see the faces she interacts with on her travels, you can follow Face of the World on Instagram. Besides getting on and off planes, she is in a serious relationship with words and hopes to inspire as many people as possible through them. Once her mission is accomplished on Earth, she will return to her planet to rejoin her extraterrestrial brothers and sisters. In case you're wondering, yes, she is still willingly obsessed with Frida Kahlo. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


17 Responses to “10 Lessons to Learn from Frida Kahlo.”

  1. Punkie says:

    Thank you for writing about how you feel about our beautiful Frida, I too have adored this genius woman and draw strength from her example. I so enjoyed your article, a wonderful way to start my day. Namaste

  2. BJ Gallagher says:

    I like all the points you make except the last one. If, as you say, "tequila and cigarettes never quit Frida's hand," then how conscious was she really? Keeping yourself numb with booze and nicotine may help ease the pain of physical injuries but they certainly don't lead to enlightenment and wisdom … for Frida or for anyone.

  3. HBT says:

    Frida and Diego were in constant conflict, and she had the passion and talent to paint her pain, about their relationship and also her physical, emotional and spiritual suffering. She suffered. A lot. Should she have married a narcissistic womanizer? Who knows. She certainly made beauty out of the situation. But I don't believe two people who constantly hurt one another are necessarily good role models for how one lives life. I'd much much rather be content in life and not famous than in constant emotional and physical pain and famous. I've been in my share of destructive relationships, and I don't recommend it, even if great art comes from it. I admire them both in many ways, but they were self-destructive and unhealthy in a lot of ways.

  4. Rose says:

    I love Frida! Diego was unfaithful, but so was Frida. You say she never cheated on him, but she had countless love affairs with both men and women. Yes, Diego perhaps hurt her more, but their relationship was toxic by both of their infidelities.

  5. Kristina says:

    What a wonderful article; definitely a blueprint for living life. Elayne, I also love your bio! It put a smile on my face.

  6. Sandra says:

    A lot of factual errors, but the spirit of the article is the message and the message is good. E.G S
    he more than threw dinner parties for Trotsky!

  7. Jerri says:

    Frida painted her eyebrows and moustache heavier than they were to represent her vitality and sensuality. She DID "know how to do her eyebrows". Like a Natural Woman.

  8. @Lainer says:

    Loved Frida as a painter and she endured so much pain, but she (and Diego) were a mess. She was addicted to alcohol and cigarettes. She was addicted to a failed relationship. She had a low self-esteem to stay in such a miserable marriage, but those were the times. No pun intended but she was a train wreck. the only thing grounding her was her art and stubborn will to paint. Maybe she stayed with Diego because of financial reasons. I still admire her, but I would never emulate her. She lived a very haphazard life. Not very grounding.

  9. joyfulpsyche says:

    Aren't the commenters who are critical of Frieda's and Diego's relationship judging it through the lens of modern eyes who are psychologically savvy? What I love about this article is that she does not do that but casts them within the time of their lives which is seemingly more authentic. If there is such thing as cultural empathy, you nailed it sister!

  10. Peach says:

    This is fact; thanks for helping the author set the record straight. Her biographies, also, state, that Freda and Diego divorced and later remarried. As for her leg being thinner than the other, Freda was an amputee who wore prosthesis.

  11. Antonieta says:


    Just finished a painting of them when, you read about Frida or Diego it s, all about art. They understood he was ill and she was ill. Not in a abstract way. Just this gapping hole they felt. I admire them till this day.


  12. antonieta says:

    Frida and Diego,

    My name is Antonieta. I know that your works of art remain intensely sought, reading about you two is truly a inspiration…I painted a picture of the two of from a black and white picture…Frida your eyes and your arm leading to your hand on his shoulder never letting go. Diego not smiling, just thinking looking away you are Frieda looking away. Yet, the photo captured hours and time on that second hand ticking on and on. This has led me through many lonely days and nights, you two are my mentor s .


    Antonieta R. Cullen.

  13. Eva says:

    Wonderful article!

  14. tropicalrain says:

    culturally, both tobacco and tequila are part of the shamanism of the Aztek and Mayan heritage – and the use of them along with peyote and mushrooms, are used to induce consciousness mystical experiences
    politically, in her time, intellectuals and artists were bohemians and suffered from a self pain inflicting behaviors
    so, I believe is both – enlightenment and numbing simultaneously – a tension of the two extremes, and art in between

  15. Stacia says:

    My understanding is that due to her horrific injuries in the bus accident she had several MISCARRIAGES and not abortions. My understanding she wanted children more than anything, however her body just could not do it.

  16. Fay says:

    There are some valid points here and also some utter dross.
    This woman was obviously a force of nature. Vibrant and larger than life, but also vulnerable and human. Utterly laudable traits.

    Implying that her drinking and smoking with gay abandon is admirable is wrong. Both are dysfunctional ways of dealing with raw emotion or that nagging feeling that something is wrong. And both are potentially ultimately destructive.

    I have never come across this extraordinary woman before and intend to do some research. Her humanness in the face of difficulty makes her touchable and real and therefore touching and easily identified with.

  17. Jenny says:

    Yeah, I think in some languages "abortion" and "miscarriage" are the same, but not in American English anyway…(I know it Spanish it's the same word) so it's kind of an important distinction!