The Accident

There are particular moments that can change the course of one's life. Frida had such an experience at the age of eighteen. In September, 1925, on her way home from school with Alejandro, the bus she was riding collided with a trolley car. Frida sustained grave injuries, including a broken spinal column, broken collarbone, broken ribs, broken pelvis, 11 fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot and a dislocated shoulder. Worst of all, a broken handrail entered her left hip and came out through her vagina. Frida often joked it was in this accident she lost her virginity. She suffered her entire life from the physical wounds of this accident, especially around her fertility. During the accident, her clothes were torn from her body, the handrail impaled her, and a sign painter on the bus had a container of gold-leaf paint that spilled during the crash and covered her bloody body. Many passersby called her 'la bailarina, la bailarina,' the dancer. With the truly Mexican sense of the macabre, her body, in a dancer-like pose, was golden and bloody, thus symbolizing the relationship she would have with her body for the rest of her life. Alejandro found the terribly wounded Frida, pulled the rod out of her, and pleaded with the doctors to operate and not give up on her.

Frida spent a month encased in a full-body plaster cast that made her look like a mummy. She spent a year in bed recovering from these injuries. Told she would never walk again, Frida remained determined, and did regain her ability to walk, but lived the rest of her life in constant pain, and eventually had 35 surgeries, mostly on her back and right leg and foot. Frida, a Catholic, identifying with Jesus' horribly bloody death, called this accident her Calvary. She lived in constant suffering for next 29 years.

The prior health issues of polio and a possibly undiagnosed congenital spina bifida, a malformation that occurs when the lower spine does not close during fetal development, can lead to progressive trophic ulcers on the legs and feet, eventually causing Frida additional suffering, In her later years, she would have her foot amputated due to the long-term effects of the accident and these ulcers.

The family experienced a decline in upper middle-class status due to a decrease in Guillermo's photographic business after the revolution, combined with the huge financial burden of Frida's medical expenses. Frida felt guilty and powerless to help her family. She first began to paint more out of boredom, and then in an effort to develop a home-based income. Frida's mother helped her by ordering a special easel that allowed her to paint while lying on her back. Her father allowed her to use his special brushes and paints. The loyal family offered themselves as models. Frida painted everything, even her plaster-cast corsets and herself.

For Frida, the near-death accident seemed to collapse life into a liminal space in which all is stripped away and she had to search anew for meaning, purpose, and rebirth. Frida wrote to Alejandro that she was reborn by this accident, "as a mature, sad woman who life had lost its color." In one of her meta-phoric utterances, she told him "death danced around my hospital bed at night." Abandoning the goal of a medical career, she was reborn and her true essence emerged as a colorful Mexican painter. Symbolically, the accident birthed her as an icon of the wounded, triumphant feminine that her art and life holds for many women today.

Your Retirement Planning Guide

Your Retirement Planning Guide

Don't Blame Us If You End Up Enjoying Your Retired Life Like None Of Your Other Retired Friends. Already Freaked-Out About Your Retirement? Not Having Any Idea As To How You Should Be Planning For It? Started To Doubt If Your Later Years Would Really Be As Golden As They Promised? Fret Not Right Guidance Is Just Around The Corner.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment