Hayek - who played Kahlo in the 2002 film Frida - had a special, vicarious acquaintance with the fine artist having played her, and felt the aftershock of her death as many did in her native Mexico. "How could they turn her into a Barbie", Hayek wrote, with two thumbs down and a "body image" hashtag.
The company chose to highlight women such as Kahlo, a bisexual Mexican artist, Earhart, the first female aviator to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean, and Johnson, the NASA mathematician featured in the film "Hidden Figures".
Kahlo's family and corporation, which possess the rights to her estate and creations, allege the Mexican icon's image was stolen and distorted.
If you were to make a guess at the latest famous face to be given a Barbie makeover, complete with perfectly groomed brows, immaculate up-do and floral headband, Frida Kahlo probably wouldn't be the first name on the list.
But the problem goes deeper than just a dispute over image rights, said Romeo, the granddaughter of Kahlo's sister Cristina.
Kahlo's daughter, Mara Romeo Pinedo, and great-niece, Mara de Anda Romeo, have threatened legal action, stating that Mattel is not authorized to use her image. However, Mattel claims that they properly secured the rights through a Florida-based organization called the Frida Kahlo Corporation. "It should be a doll that represents everything my aunt represented, her strength", she told AFP.
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Mattel said in a statement that it worked with the Panama-based Frida Kahlo Corp., "which owns all the rights".
"We will talk to them about regularizing this situation, and by regularizing I mean talking about the appearance of the doll, its characteristics, the history the doll should have to match what the artist really was", Romeo's lawyer Pablo Sangri said in a statement to The Guardian.
The latter has violated their now-expired contract by failing to inform Kahlo's relatives about the uses of her "brand", he told Agence France-Presse.
In recent years, Kahlo's image has been stamped onto an explosion of consumer products: nail polish, bags, shoes, coffee mugs and much, much more.
Kahlo (1907-1954), the wife of the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, is today considered one of the great painters of the 20th century, particularly for her self-portraits, often brimming with pain and isolation.