Rebecca Wayman

Why did Theresa May’s Frida Kahlo bracelet prove so controversial?

Theresa May’s conference speech in Manchester on Wednesday October 4 was anything but successful.

From Simon Brodkin (Lee Nelson) offering the Prime Minister a P45 form (he was arrested after being escorted out the building), to letters falling from the “BUILDING A COUNTRY THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE” sign behind May, it wasn’t her proudest moment to date.

But the highlight - the main controversy - was when Theresa May violently started coughing, was offered a cough sweet from chancellor Philip Hammond and raised her arm to reveal a Frida Kahlo bracelet.

Oh, big deal! Yes, you would think the chunky jewellery hugging May’s wrist looks ordinary, just a little bric-a-brac item you would buy from Etsy or a second-hand store… But if you bear in mind that Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist and communist who held left-wing views, it seems a little ironic that a Conservative should wear such a thing.

Nine times out of 10, I get wound up when a woman’s decision to wear what she damn well pleases at an event (which has nothing to do with fashion or beauty) makes headlines - if every woman was to cover up for all eternity, The Daily Mail would combust.

But when the British Prime Minister wears a bracelet of a woman who was a Mexican Communist Party member, it is no surprise viewers have pointed out the stark irony in this particular get up.

Frida Kahlo, born in 1907, led a radical, heartbreaking life to say the least. I don’t think many people would say Theresa May would get along with her if she were alive today.

To put it bluntly, Kahlo was a disabled, bisexual woman who endured affairs, suffered miscarriages and abortions because her body couldn’t take pregnancy, and then she conveyed her life and socialist views through art… Jacob Rees-Mogg would probably have a fit.

So what made Theresa May wear such a political piece of jewellery?

One Twitter user, Ash Sarkar, jokingly commented: “When the ghost of Frida Kahlo comes back to strangle you to death for abusing her image and everything she stood for” alongside a picture of May badly coughing.

Despite the mockery, May pledged she will cap energy prices and give £2bn of government money to build affordable housing. To me, this 100 per cent sounds like the ghost of Kahlo has possessed her!

Is this bracelet a positive sign of what’s to come, or is it May simply trying to win the support that crashed and burned with her in 2017’s general election when the Conservatives failed to win a majority?

Be it a PR stunt, be it a personal - albeit ignorant, ‘I’m just wearing it because it’s cool’ - admiration of May’s… It certainly hasn’t managed to win her any new followers this time…

Is this a sly way to get more under 40s on the Tory bandwagon? For me, it’s as if she’s trying to get through to all of the millennials who voted for Jeremy Corbyn, saying: “Hey, look, I support your beliefs over the Tories! Vote for me and we can join a Frida Kahlo LGBTQ support club and wear matching bracelets…”

Look, Theresa, it’s not going to happen. Everyone knows your days as Prime Minister are numbered anyway, so I wouldn’t really bother trying to win over anyone else - a lot of the country is already against you. We can see through your cunning ways.

However in one way, it could be that the media looked far too into this. Maybe she genuinely does have a painting of Kahlo’s hung on her wall… Then, we would put our hands up and say we were wrong.

But do you not think that this is a massive PR stunt for the Tory figure? After all, when you’re at a major conference speech with loads of cameras and journalists, someone is going to scrutinize your entire look, head to toe.

This is like when people wear band t-shirts without knowing a single song by the band/artist. It’s hypocrisy and ignorance rolled into one.

I just hope May starts putting Kahlo’s views into action if the bracelet was in fact something her husband got her for a birthday present. We can dream…

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