I hate to say it to the Turning Red haters — but kids have their periods too


The latest triumph from Disney/Pixar, To reddenSupposedly follows a Chinese-Canadian 13-year-old named Meilin who, due to a magical family blessing-turned-curse, transforms into a giant, fluffy red panda when her emotions run high.

In fact, it is about so much more. To redden Explores trauma between generations, the mother-daughter bond, establishing an identity outside the family, parental expectations – and yes, puberty.

When Meilin transforms into her panda self for the first time, her mother Ming assumes she’s getting her period for the first time: cue for the hilarious scene in which Ming stands outside Meilin’s classroom, being followed by the school janitor, holding up a pack of sanitary napkins . It felt really bold and refreshing to watch; and as I winced, I was forced to question my own underlying shame regarding periods I had carried with me since childhood.

Predictably, there was some backlash – reports in certain sections of the media that “concerned” parents felt this To redden is “inappropriate for children” because periods are discussed and menstruation is openly and shamelessly part of the story.

Well, I hate teaching these parents – but kids have their periods too.

I hit puberty early, started my period before 13, and I absolutely hated it. I was embarrassed, and even the thought of talking about it – to anyone – made my chest tighten in panic and horror. The fear that someone in the school toilet would hear me changing a pad was so intense that I didn’t go to the toilet all day and instead used public restrooms on my way home.

Maybe, if To redden — or something like that — had been around and on my radar, everything would have felt a little less scary. During adolescence, when children are suddenly confronted with new hair growth, body shape changes, menstrual periods, broken voices, and a sudden influx of strange and unsettling emotions, an injection of humor may be just what is needed to end a scary, uncertain, and confusing phase transforming life into something more manageable and totally normal – which it absolutely is.

The relationship between Meilin and Ming takes center stage To redden – a nuanced and sensitive portrait of the impact of intergenerational trauma. Ming doesn’t see her daughter as a separate person; crushes her with the weight of impossibly high cultural expectations and makes her feel like she needs to hide her interests and the personality she really has – just like Meilin’s grandmother did with Ming.

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Meilin realizes in a truly magical way (with an ethereal bamboo forest) that her mother is shaped by the way she was treated as a child – like all of us. This is an enlightenment that too many of us are still waiting for – and something we should all “get” before it’s too late. Giving children a head start in understanding these types of things in the form of a funny, beautiful, and highly entertaining film can only encourage better communication and more joyful relationships.

The film sees Meilin taking control of her identity and choosing to embrace it all – including the “messy” and “loud” elements represented by her red panda form. She doesn’t have to be perfect or straitjacketed by “perfect daughter” and “perfect immigrant” expectations that are ultimately impossible to meet.

Explore who we are; Experiencing the exhilarating rush of first crushes and understanding that our personalities are complex and multi-faceted is part of growing up—and should be celebrated, not crushed.

To redden is characterized by so many positive aspects. The four girls in Meilin’s heartwarming friendship group have different body shapes and personalities. There is a rich sense of cultural diversity.

Meilin’s Chinese heritage is celebrated. Girls are portrayed as uncompromisingly interested in math and studies and also interested in boys and bands. Mean kids like Tyler don’t have to be mean – they can change and befriend them and their walls might come down. Billie Eilish and Finneas’ music isn’t bad.

This is where kids’ movies should be playing – blocks, periods and all – and the haters, frankly, can hug a panda.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/turning-red-periods-disney-b2038246.html I hate to say it to the Turning Red haters — but kids have their periods too

Caroline Bleakley

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