Pixar's Turning Red on Disney+ Hotstar talks about the changing relationship between mothers-daughters and females with their bodies.
We have all been through those times when we were in school dealing with crushes, friendships, pimples, and the "period" workshops that were just given to girls. While school days are the most memorable of days because of the simplicity of life but coming-of-age is a phase that has always been uncomfortable and awkward. Your body goes through changes and so does your life as well! So it becomes all the more important that in those adolescent years we are all open to having open conversations about everything. Disney's Pixar recent production Turning Red currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar is an animation film that is a conversation starter on shame attached to periods and the pain of puberty.
This coming-of-age story follows a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian girl, Meilin Lee (Rosalie Chiang) who is a perfect girl for her overbearing mother Ming (Sandra Oh) and the perfect friend for her three best friends tomboyish Canadian Miriam Wexler (Ava Morse), Indian Canadian dope Priya Dewan (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and Korean Canadian fiesty Abby Park (Hyein Park). But the trouble starts to ensue when one day she wakes as a giant red panda. And from then on it's a constant tussle for Meilin to adjust her new bodily functions (as she becomes the giant red panda only when she feels strong emotions) around her school friends and, with her strict Chinese mother who terribly wants this to go away.
The giant red monster is an obvious metaphor for menstruation just hiding under the guise of cultural impact. And the ritual done to get rid of the red monster is to do away with the changes that this mark of puberty brings with it. It is to finally accept this part, learn to hide it within oneself, and don't give in to it. But this is also a film that teaches about the reality of a chaotic and messy mother-daughter changing relationship when a young girl enters puberty. The daughter's curiosity to experiment and embrace this new side of hers and the mother's reluctance to let go of the perfect little girl that she has had for years.
Ming's conditioning and guilt because of her own broken relationship with her mother don't want the red monster to take away her daughter. But Meilin can't seem to stay away from wanting to explore and embrace this red monster, and her sexual awakening through the boy band 4*Town (a fictitious group that seems the amalgamation of ’NSync, Backstreet Boys, and BTS). This troubling relationship without actual honest conversation starts all the lying, secrets, rebellion, and finally the outburst between the mother and the daughter. But in all of this, it is the up-down friendship with Miriam, Priya, and Abby that Meilin finds solace in.
As for Disney after the recent academy award winner Encanto, this is another attempt towards cultural inclusivity, and after the 88th Academy Awards winner Inside Out, this is another attempt at bringing socially stigmatized topics forward in a lighter format to be enjoyed by kids as well as adults. This film also marks Pixar's first direction solely handled by a woman Domee Shi (Bao), and it is also the first one to be set up entirely in Toronto, Canada.
Turning Red is a great conversation starter for not just periods and puberty but also for adjusting and learning to the new bodily functions around school, friends, family, and society while retaining your core cultural values intact.
Turning Red is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and is a definite watch!
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