UNITED IN UNIBROWS

Video: Over 1,000 Frida Kahlos celebrated the late Mexican artist’s birthday

Who knew a unibrow could be such a popular look?

On Thursday (July 7), some 5,000 people donned one in honor of what would have been the 110th birthday of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) in Texas.

Their goal was to set the first Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people in Frida garb, that is, sporting at least three flowers atop the head, a pink or red rebozo (shawl), a knee-covering dress—no slits please—and of course, Kahlo’s iconic single brow. The aim was to hit 250 people. The DMA estimates around 1,100 Fridas met the criteria for the record attempt, which won’t be official until certified by Guinness World Records.

The event, dubbed “Frida Fest,” was the brainchild of two Mexican immigrants affiliated with the Latino Center for Leadership Development, which co-hosted the event with the DMA. The non-profit’s mission is to help city and state government better reflect the fact that more than 40% of Dallas’s population is Hispanic.

The group was also instrumental in bringing to the DMA an expansive exhibit of Mexican art that will run until July 16. The exhibit includes The Two Fridas, one of Kahlo’s most arresting paintings, a double portrait with interconnected, exposed hearts. In an attempt to get that and other masterpieces in front of the city’s Hispanic community, organizers spread the word at taquerías and barber shops, and even got sponsors to cover the $16 admission price on certain dates.

It worked. The show, one of the most popular at the DMA in recent years, attracted many first-time Latino museum goers, according to the museum.

“It’s important to learn about our roots,” said José Manuel Santoyo, who helped orchestrate “Frida Fest.” “It gives a lot of us an opportunity to see art that otherwise we would not be able to see, especially for those of us who are not able to leave this country and reenter.”

The swarm of Fridas that packed the DMA’s spacious main hall, spilled unto its gardens, and snaked around the block, also spoke to something broader than Mexican culture and identity. “She represents the individuality of a person who exercises the right to be who they are, authentic,” Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s director, said.

The Frida devotees who showed up spanned races, nationalities, age, class, gender, and sexual orientation—a major accomplishment in a city that remains largely segregated by income and race. It was also a case study of how the seemingly growing divide between Americans of different backgrounds can be breached, even if it is one unibrow at a time.

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