Issue 21

Turning Red: The Growing Pains of Adolescence

Turning Red, Pixar’s latest creation, is a brilliant metaphor for puberty and the growing pains of adolescence. It is the studio’s first film written, directed and produced by women. Set in early-2000’s Toronto, it follows Mei-Mei, a 13-year old girl dealing with the overwhelming experience of being a teenager and the changes in her body. Beyond just dealing with her adolescence, she is the only child of a Chinese origin family, trying her best to be the perfect child her mother wants her to be. She gets straight A’s, plays the flute in the school band, and even helps her parents run their temple after returning home. Everything is fine until one day she wakes up and finds herself transformed into a giant red panda. She is conflicted between trying to keep the panda tamed by controlling her emotions to fit in and appease her mother while also finding herself through her newfound expression in the panda. 

The film is a bold attempt at addressing puberty. Right from its title, it addresses the taboo topic of menstruation, openly mentions sanitary pads, and never shies away from having real conversations. It is a coming of age story that everyone can relate to, from dealing with hormonal changes and crushes to the awkwardness and struggles that come with it. It is also about exploring your independence and finding your sense of self. Yet, at its heart, the film is a heartwarming story about mothers and daughters, breaking the cycle of transgenerational trauma, and forgiveness. 

Reya Daya is a third-year student studying psychology and media studies at Ashoka University. Her other interests include writing, photography and music.

Picture Credits: IMDB

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