If you’ve been on social media or online recently you have probably encountered controversies around the movie Turning Red. I don’t normally speak on controversial topics because I will avoid conflict at all costs but I wanted to share with you my opinion. Please hear me out this is my opinion and my opinion only, you need to decide what is right for you and for your family when it comes to what is put in front of them. You might even have a different opinion than me and I’m here to tell you that’s ok.
First things first, I need you to know that I absolutely adored and loved this movie. This is the point I know that some of you reading just checked out and will not continue on, that’s ok but if you want to hear my reasoning behind why I loved this movie then continue reading on. You also need to be aware that I have two daughters that are getting really close to entering this preteen phase of life, this context will be important as you read on.
One of the first comments I saw against this movie was that it was entirely inappropriate for kids because it was all centered around periods and menstruation. Through my eyes, I feel as though they did a great job explaining and handling this. It was right at the beginning of the movie and it was only for a few seconds. To those who say the entire movie was focused on this because the red panda represents this 13-year-old girl starting her period, I don’t agree that it entirely represents that. There is a time in a child’s life when they step from being a kid into adolescence and usually, that revolves around the changes happening to you but not limited to physical changes. Also, I looked into it and a red panda in Chinese culture actually represents peace and friendship. This movie created a safe space to open conversations with my girls. They are getting to that age so conversations have already started especially with my oldest. If we make “that time of the month ” sound negative or something to be shameful of, do you know what will happen? Once that time comes that girl will feel shame and just like generations before we will raise a new generation of women filled with shame when it comes to this area. Why don’t we change the narrative of how we explain this to girls that are growing up.
Let’s think back to biblical times as a female in the time of the old testament, whenever that time of the month rolled around there was a tremendous amount of shame placed on you. In Leviticus 15:19 it says when a woman is undergoing menstruation she is perceived as unclean for seven days and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. It is as though you might as well write unclean on your forehead so everyone is aware. Imagine the shame that those women felt. I think even as women of today we feel a lot of shame and some of the shame could be changed if we simply started to change the conversation. If you are deciding whether or not to watch this movie with your kids just be aware that this topic is brought up but not the main focus.
The second issue I’ve heard is the movie has demonic influences. Disney is not a Christian organization and to treat them as if they are is a mistake. They use a variety of different cultures throughout their movies. Just because a culture is different from our own does not mean it’s demonic. Yes, some cultures do believe in different spirits, but instead of bashing that culture in public why don’t you find someone that is a part of that culture and learn from them. That doesn’t mean you have to believe the same thing. When we can recognize and have open minds to learn from other cultures we can become a better community. I personally get frustrated when I see one group of people automatically shutting down another group because of their differences in beliefs. I would encourage you to listen and learn from those different from yourself. That doesn’t mean you take everything anyone else says and make it your own belief but understanding each other is so important. I think of past Disney movies like Coco and the deep culture that it portrayed or Pocahontas. These movies all have deep cultural pieces that can create conversations. All of these movies including Turning Red have started conversations with our girls on how people of a specific culture believe and how beliefs differ but also how we can relate to each other and love each other just as God intended us to be as Christians.
The last argument I’m going to speak into is that this 13-year-old girl was being so disrespectful. I think we can all agree we don’t want our kids to sneak out of the house to attend a concert with their friends, but have you watched Disney movies before? Right now I want you to think of your favorite Disney movie. If your favorite is a princess movie I’ve got news for you. They are all disrespectful. Rapunzel ran away from her tower, granted she didn’t know she was kidnapped, and disobeyed her “mom”. Ariel went to a sea witch and traded her voice so she could have legs to walk on land. She did exactly what her father told her not to. Mulan took the place of her father to fight in the war, which brought dishonor to them all. Cinderella found a fairy godmother who gave her a whole new look and went to the ball without permission. You see a theme running here and this list could go on and on. These women are portrayed as independent women, side note even though most were actually teenagers, they had an I’ll do what I want attitude no matter what anyone else says. We can use movies like these as conversation starters for example ask your kid what they would do in this situation. As a parent you have given them specific rules and their friends say “come on everyone is going or doing it, your parents will never find out.” How will they respond to their friends? It is much better to have these conversations now before you have to have the consequence conversations later.
My whole reason for writing this was not to state everyone should think the way I do. I would encourage everyone to decide what is best for yourself and your families, not only when it comes to this movie but for so much more. My husband and I made the decision to let our girls watch it and the outcome has been some awesome conversations. Our youngest daughter has really big emotions, honestly both our girls do. Young kids a majority of the time don’t know how to process those BIG emotions. Being able to explain it in the way that Mei Mei turns into this red panda when she has big emotions and talk about how we can handle our emotions, even how we can handle them differently so we don’t turn into that red panda has been one of the best conversations with our girls. The picture at the top of this blog is me with my youngest daughter plush Mei Mei. When she first got it she said, “This is Mei Mei she turns into a red panda when she has big emotions, just like me.” I love that she recognizes those emotions are nothing to be afraid of or feel shame for feeling that way, while also realizing that she doesn’t always know how to process these big emotions. She told us when she has those big emotions and doesn’t know what to do she is going to grab Mei Mei and give her a big squeeze. One simple thing can help let us know there is something going on. So that we can start to look at what is going on in the environment around her and even what is going on under the surface of those emotions. Kids are growing up so fast these days we need to remember they are still kids. Just like Mei Mei in the movie, she is a 13-year-old girl acting like a 13-year-old girl, pushing the limits/boundaries and just trying to figure out who she is. Create a safe space where your kids can process all those emotions in a healthy way. Allow for there to be open conversations, by open I mean give permission for your child to speak what’s on their mind without feeling condemned. I want to encourage you if you have kids getting ready to step into adolescence start talking about it and let them sit in their emotions and feel those emotions for what they are because again they’re kids. Becoming preteens they can start to have adult emotions that they have no idea how to process. As parents, let’s help them along the way.
I pray that this blog today was an encouragement to you and can help in your daily life. Always know I am available to pray with you or just be someone to talk to when life gets hard. E-mail me at email@example.com if you need prayer!
Talk to you soon,