“Who was Frida Kahlo? It is not possible to find an exact answer. So contradictory and multiple was the personality of this woman, that it may be said that many Fridas existed. Perhaps none of them was who she wanted to be.”
It’s been 65 years since Frida Kahlo’s death, yet she grows more alive with each year.
Today, she is celebrated for many reasons. For some, she is loved for her style – the flowers and ribbons in her hair, the bright jewelry, the traditional dress inspired by cultures all over Mexico. For others, it’s her tortured and brash art. People love her for her tragedy, or for her refusal to be silenced.
The list goes on and on.
And why not? There are so many things to love about Frida Kahlo.
But one mistake we mustn’t make is to think that loving her is equal to knowing her. No one really knew who Frida Kahlo was. Perhaps not even herself.
Because of this, we at 16Personalities will approach her personality typing cautiously. There are just some facets to her personality that we aren’t fully equipped to decode. We’ll never know exactly what plagued her mind – whether it be mental illness, pain, trauma, or more. All we can do is take the pieces that she left us, the interviews with those who knew her best, and countless second-hand accounts. With the aforementioned information, we’ve assembled her personality as accurately as we can.
We believe that Frida Kahlo was a Turbulent Adventurer (ISFP-T). We’ll get into “why” in a moment, but first, we want to give a brief overview of Frida and her history.
A Brief History
- In 1907, Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico City. However, she claimed her birth year as 1910, the year the Mexican revolution began. She said she wanted her life to begin with modern Mexico.
- When she was six, Frida was stricken with polio. She recovered, but her right leg was permanently thinner than the left. She wore long skirts and dresses to hide this.
- In 1922, Frida entered a nationally renowned preparatory school. Her sights were set on becoming a doctor. At school, she gained a reputation for being outspoken and brave.
- Frida also first met the famous Diego Rivera while he painted a mural.
- In 1925, Frida was in a serious bus accident. A steel handrail impaled her through the hip. Her spine and pelvis were fractured. The accident left her in a great deal of pain. Frida was confined to her bed as she healed. She began to paint to alleviate boredom and express her feelings. Frida the Artist was born.
- In 1928, Frida Kahlo reconnected with Diego Rivera. She asked him to evaluate her work, and he encouraged her. They soon started a romantic relationship. Diego had two wives behind him and was known to be a womanizer.
- In 1929, Frida and Diego married. She was 22, and he was 42. Their marriage was called the “union between an elephant and a dove” because of their contrasting sizes.
- Frida and Diego went from Mexico to the United States to follow Diego’s career. It was in the States, though, that talk of Frida began, and she and her art began to be noticed in their own right.
- Frida and Diego’s marriage was very non-traditional. Both parties had numerous affairs. In 1939, Frida and Diego divorced, only to remarry in 1940. They kept separate lives and houses but generally remained amicable.
- In 1941, Frida was recognized as a prominent artist in her home country of Mexico. Despite her personal challenges, her work continued to grow in popularity and was included in numerous group shows around this time.
- In 1953, she was given her first solo exhibition in Mexico – one of her greatest dreams came true. Because she was in excruciating pain at that time, she showed up at the exhibition’s opening ceremony in an ambulance. She attended in an ornate four-poster bed that she had sent ahead of her.
- In 1954, at the age of 47, Frida Kahlo died from a pulmonary embolism. There were rumors of suicide. The last words in her diary were, “I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to come back.”
The above timeline is very condensed. You can find more information on Frida Kahlo here.
What the bullet points don’t capture is how Frida lived. By all accounts, she was a woman who lived fiercely and defiantly. She had strong beliefs and passions which she poured into her painting, and that is truly what people see in her now. Let’s look into the personality breakdown of this vibrant woman.
Frida liked to be alone. She thought it was a privilege to be with herself and to express herself however she wished (though she wasn’t a woman who cared about how others judged her). Of her 143 paintings, 55 were self-portraits. Frida once said, “I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best.”
Also, Frida kept her sadness to herself. While she was always seen smiling around others, she was somber in her paintings. She kept her pain to a medium that only she could interpret. That only she could control. That being said, the somberness itself didn’t mean she was an Introverted personality. Instead, it was her desire to keep it hidden from others.
She never sought to be anything more than she was. She spoke plainly and without pretension. In her diary, she wrote: “I was happy in my way. You did not understand what I am. I am love. I am pleasure, I am essence, I am an idiot, I am an alcoholic, I am tenacious. I am; simply I am...”
She felt as though she belonged to the world. She enjoyed seeing, touching, feeling, and experiencing – and left theories and possibilities to others. Instead of wondering what may happen or why it might happen, she always kept her focus on the present.
Her art also reflected this need to reflect reality. She disliked the more common romantic style of the time where artists commonly made their subjects more attractive and fantastical than they truly were. She wanted her painting to reflect reality. And she often used very obvious symbolism to convey her views of herself and of society.
Perhaps of all her traits, this one may be the hardest to figure out. Frida was an incredibly Turbulent woman, and we really can’t figure out if her deep emotions were from the Turbulent personality trait or because of a deeper Feeling side.
What we can say for sure was that Frida wasn’t known to make careful, calculated decisions. That’s not to say that this was bad, but simply that it didn’t naturally occur to her to act matter-of-factly in most situations. She made decisions based on her feelings. It’s for this reason that we label her as a Feeling personality type rather than a Thinking type.
One example of her being Feeling over Thinking was her second marriage to Diego. It wasn’t a logical decision, but rather a decision she made based on her feelings.
Speaking of making decisions based on emotions, here’s an example of what Frida had to say about her relationship with Diego: “I love you more than my own skin and even though you don’t love me the same way, you love me anyways, don’t you? And if you don’t, I’ll always have the hope that you do, and I’m satisfied with that. Love me a little. I adore you.”
She was not a woman who thought things through, both in life and her art. She simply followed things in the moment. She once said, “I paint always whatever passes through my head, without any other considerations.” This filterless point of view is evidence of the Prospecting personality trait.
Frida was known to be wily and defiant, never one to blend into the scenery. “Everything about her, from her hairstyle to the hem of her dress, breathed a kind of roguish glee...” wrote her stepdaughter, Guadalupe Rivera.
There is an enormous gap between what the modern world thinks of Frida, and what the artist thought of herself. Frida often felt worthless. There are several times in her life where she described this feeling of lack. One, in particular, is in a letter to her husband, Diego Rivera:
“The conclusion I’ve drawn is that all I’ve done is fail. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a doctor and a bus squashed me. I live with you for ten years without doing anything in short but causing you problems and annoying you. I began to paint and my painting is useless but for me and for you to buy it, knowing that no one else will...”
It would be accurate to say that we as a society have romanticized her struggles, drawing her as a vivid caricature rather than the woman she really was. In this article, we have sought to see her as a person rather than an icon.
The Parts We Can’t Decipher
So, there you have it. We believe that Frida Kahlo was likely a Turbulent Adventurer.
That being said, there’s so much more that’s missing from this assessment. Frida suffered from things that go beyond personality. Modern psychiatrists also believe she certainly had mental health issues. Needless to say, all of her experiences and potential mental health issues could have had a large impact on how she presented herself.
There are challenges to personality typing when it comes to conditions, illnesses, and injuries. Personality can also be influenced by traumatic incidents in life. Looking at how these may have affected Frida’s personality, however, is outside of our expertise – and the scope of this article.
One thing about Frida was absolutely true: she painted her reality. She had her troubles, and she continued on to charm millions around the world with her fashion, ideas, and unadulterated passion. She’s still charming and inspiring us today. For many of us, Frida will forever be an icon.
Here at 16Personalities, we hold accuracy in high esteem. That being said, there’s only so much research we can do on a person. Without being able to interview and assess a living Frida Kahlo, our label of Turbulent Adventurer can only ever be theoretical.
So, do you have your own theories? Let us know in the comments below!