Frida Kahlo’s Expression of Fibromyalgia in Art

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Frida Kahlo fibromyalgia

Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954) was a Mexican painter who is believed to have suffered from fibromyalgia as the result of an unfortunate bus accident.

It is known for sure that she suffered from some form of chronic pain throughout her life, and many interpret her paintings and other pieces of artwork as being an expression of this pain through the use of colors and expression.

So symbolic were Kahlo’s works that she inspired countless numbers of other painters to execute their own artwork very similar to hers.

Kahlo had to undergo over thirty five different surgeries following her bus accident.

She also lived many years ago, back in a time where the world’s medical standards were simply not to the level of where they are today.

Despite the immense chronic pain that Kahlo suffered throughout her life, and despite the pain that no doubt resulted from the surgeries, she continued to produce great pieces of artwork that continue to be held in high regard today.

The reasons for this are attributed to the fact that those who suffer from pain are not able to express themselves physically as much as other people; they may be confined to bed or to their homes and not able to perform day to day tasks.

Often times, those who suffer in this way are much more able to express themselves in pieces of media, such as through writings and artwork.  Frida Kahlo appears to be no exception.

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Kahlo lived from 1907-1954. Back then, there was no diagnosis for fibromyalgia.  Nonetheless, many experts and those who have studied Kahlo’s life have come to the consensus that she suffered from some fibromyalgia symptoms, such as chronic pain and debilitating fatigue.

Her landmark artwork also vividly depicted this; one memorable self-portrait of hers depicted her being covered with barbed wire and nails.

Even if Kahlo didn’t suffer from fibromyalgia, she at least suffered from some sort of chronic pain that took a toll on her life and influenced her artwork greatly.

The likely reason why Kahlo suffered from so much chronic pain during her life is due to physical accidents that she sustained early in her life.

Kahlo suffered physically from car crashes and physical abuse early in her life.

Most of the pain that she suffered that is recorded happened after the car crash.

Today, it is known that physical trauma can cause fibromyalgia, making it highly likely that this is how Kahlo encountered the beginning of her own chronic pain journey.

Tender Points

Anyone who suffers from fibromyalgia will have eleven different pressure points where the pain will be the most intense when pressure is applied to them.

Pressure points include the neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, chest, knees and hips.

When looking at these pressure points, the case for Kahlo having suffered from fibromyalgia becomes even greater as much of her artwork seems to depict pain from these areas.

It is also apparent that Kahlo suffered from emotional pain almost as much as she did physical pain as well.

Of course, as with most painters, Kahlo likely greatly exaggerated the physical and emotional pain depicted in her artwork purely for emotional effect.

For instance, when we discussed the painting where Kahlo depicted herself being covered with nails and barbed wire, she obviously didn’t really suffer from having nails and barbed wire in her, but it was meant to symbolize the pain that she really did feel.

Therefore, while we know that Kahlo suffered from this chronic pain, she used exaggerated methods to help us feel what so many who suffer with fibromyalgia feel every minute of the day.

Learning From Kahlo

There’s actually more that we can learn about Kahlo than we probably think. For one Frida Kahlo thing, we can take an example from her entire life.

She was in immense physical pain for all of her life, to the point where it would be too painful to get out of bed or walk around the house.

And yet, she still managed to produce dozens of excellent pieces of artwork. Kahlo’s resolve to do the things that she was passionate about, and actually make a career out of it, can inspire us to do what we love no matter the physical or emotional obstacles that we face.

People who suffer from fibromyalgia today (and there are millions of them) will all explain to you how the pain gets worse and worse until eventually it takes over your entire life.

Anything else that you are interested in becomes second to your desire to want to stop the pain.  It can also make you feel more isolated and cut off from the world.

You may not be able to drive to work, to head to the grocery store, or even walk around your own home and perform basic everyday activities.

If Kahlo did indeed suffer from fibromyalgia, it’s clear that she must have felt the same way.

Nonetheless, she is one of the most famous artists of the 20th Century, and her artwork won the admiration of millions around the globe. In that regard, she still managed to persevere.

Kahlo’s life just goes to prove that even people who are cut off from the world and feel that everything is against them can still express themselves vividly, and in doing so, become a source of hope for other people in the world who are suffering from their own problems.

Every person in the world is passionate about something, but when it comes down to it, the only people who will become known for their work are those who are tenacious and work hard at expressing their own talents, whether it be writing, artwork, music, or anything.

Kahlo’s life is an example of how some of those people who do are the people who have suffered the biggest obstacles in life.  Hopefully, it’s the people like Kahlo who can become an inspiration to others to take charge and display their own talents.

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