“Turning Red,” one of Disney’s Pixar latest animated films, is tackling the historical hush-hush topic of puberty and the challenges that come with being a pre-teen in this day in age.
Picture yourself in eighth grade, sitting next to your crush. You just got sent a note from your arch nemesis telling you that your shirt is inside out. So many mixed feelings immediately run through your body — sadness, anger and humiliation. Your face may turn red or your palms might start to get a little sweaty.
The main character of “Turning Red,” Meilin, responds differently to strong emotions by turning into a red panda — a curse passed down through the women in her family from generation to generation.
Meilin is constantly trying to live up to the high expectations that her mother, Ming, sets for her. Meilin is always starving for excellence — always studying and respecting all of those around her.
But one day, things start to change just like with most pre-teens. Meilin suddenly finds herself having a crush on the boy at the local convenience store — causing her mother to spiral.
As things start to change for Meilin, she struggles to keep her emotions in check and abide by the utmost perfect version of herself that her mother expects. As she struggles to keep control and stay calm, she turns into a giant red panda.
She is humiliated, distraught and straight up angry — a trifecta of emotions that most pre-teens deal with on a daily basis.
In the past, Disney has been known to gloss over the uncomfortable parts of life. The entertainment conglomerate usually sticks to the perfect storyline of princesses and princes who fall in love and live happily ever after. Most pre-teens place these characters on a pedestal and epitomize their romantic fairytale — a life without any hiccups.
But as most of us know, life is not all rainbows and unicorns. The process of growing up is hard and the transition from pre-teens to teens is a time in our lives we usually do not look back at fondly. Puberty is real. Sometimes young girls get upset or mad and that’s okay. Their bodies start to change, maybe not turning into a red panda, but it is important to normalize the process of puberty.
The stigma surrounding puberty and especially women going through puberty is still prevalent even in 2022. People get uncomfortable when discussing a girl getting her period, oftentimes pushing the subject under the rug.
Through Meilin, Disney’s Pixar is showing young girls that it is okay to change. It is okay to be angry, to be sad and to have a crush. It is okay to go against that perfect version of yourself your parents project on you. Kids need to be taught that it is okay to make mistakes — stray from the normal and give yourself grace since life as a pre-teen is challenging.
“Turning Red” is a step in the right direction in normalizing puberty for young kids. Meilin sets a strong example on staying true to yourself and growing into a strong adult. “Turning Red” is a must-see for young girls everywhere.