Toy maker Mattel on Thursday was embroiled in a dispute with a distant relative of late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo over its newly-released line of Barbie dolls.

To mark International Women’s Day, Mattel – the multinational toy manufacturer that also produces Barbie products – on Wednesday unveiled 17 new dolls of “sheroes” who had “broken boundaries in their fields and have been an inspiration to many girls”. Kahlo is one of them.

Kahlo’s family has said that Mattel does not have the rights to use the painter’s image. “Mrs Mara Romeo, great-niece of Frida Kahlo, is the sole owner of the rights of the image of the illustrious Mexican painter Frida Kahlo,” AFP reported the family as saying. “The company Mattel does not have the proper authorization to use the image of Frida Kahlo.” Necessary measures would be taken against the toy maker, it said.

“I would have liked the doll to have traits more like Frida’s, not this doll with light-colored eyes,” Romeo told AFP. “I would have liked her to have a unibrow, for her clothes to be made by Mexican artisans.”

She added: “It should be a doll that represents everything my aunt represented, her strength. It should be a Frida that represents Mexico.”

However, Mattel and American company Frida Kahlo Corporation have rejected the claims that it did not have the rights. “Mattel has worked in close partnership with the Frida Kahlo Corporation, the owner of all rights related to the name and identity of Frida Kahlo, on the creation of this doll,” a spokesperson for the toy maker said.

The spokesperson added: “In addition to the Frida Kahlo Corporation being an important part of the doll development process, we have their permission and a legally binding agreement to make a doll in the likeness of the great Frida Kahlo.”

The Corporation said that it derived the rights from Kahlo’s niece, Isolda Pinedo Kahlo, more than a decade ago, according to AP.

But Romeo’s lawyer said the corporation was set up in 2005 in partnership with Casablanca Distributors. The latter has violated their now-expired contract by not informing the family of the “brand” of Kahlo. According to the corporation’s website, the Mexican artists’s image has generated an array of consumer products, from tequila to shoes to skincare and beauty products.

The doll with its slender face and light eyes was heavily criticised by her fans. Kahlo was against capitalism, and was known for not following gender norms and traditional ideas about how women should look. The Frida Kahlo Barbie did not respect any of this, said many users on social media.