Disney’s “Turning Red” Turned Me Red

{Author’s note: I absolutely recognize that this is a great film to show to a coming-of-age kid already completely aware of the birds and the bees. My perspective is that of a mother of the typical young Pixar audience who is nowhere near the age of puberty. If you are looking for a different perspective, please see what New Orleans Mom writer Jaime has to say about why she loves this film here.}

Disney’s “Turning Red” Turned Me Red

It’s Friday night, which in our house means a good old fashioned Family Movie Night. Over the last several weeks, we have seen the advertisements for the new Pixar film Turning Red coming out. We were very excited because, honestly, when has Disney and Pixar ever let us down?! The popcorn was ready, the lights were dimmed, and we were all set for a fun, familial time. However, about 20 minutes into the awkward film, I found myself questioning if I should turn the movie off because much like the pre-pubescent main character, I, too, was flooded with emotions resulting in anger, disappointment, and concern.

Disney deceived us.

Just as with every movie, I checked the rating and we watched the trailer first. We were led to believe this would be a comical film, a film that would highlight Chinese culture, embracing one’s quirks, and big cute furry animals. What we were sold on, wasn’t what we got. Yes, there were quirks, but not the typical Goofy / Donald Duck kind – more like the teenage girly ones that derive from puberty. I’m pretty sure that if my boys knew what they were getting themselves into, they would have opted for a different movie. The kids didn’t laugh much during this “comedy,” and there were questions that I had to answer such as “What are those?” (referring to the Kotex pads) and “Why is her mother so mad?” (when Mei Lee’s mother threatens the store clerk’s life for taking advantage of her innocent little girl). NONE of these topics were even hinted anywhere in the trailer or description. My kids and I just weren’t prepared for what we got ourselves into.

Let’s Talk About Sex

I’m not an overly conservative person when it comes to mature content in movies. I’ve let my kids watch PG-13 movies dozens of times. I absolutely intend to discuss periods and sex with all of my kids but on my time and at a much more appropriate age other than 3, 5, and 7. Heck! My 9 year old even knows exactly where babies come from and how they’re born. It’s easy enough to assume the title of this movie is literally about a red panda, but when the topic of a girl getting her period comes up, multiple times, I have the A-Ha moment! Ok, Disney, I see what you did there, but how’s about a little HEADS UP?! At the first mentioning of the Kotex pads, ok, I thought maybe it was a little adult humor. But then, Mei Lee’s mother makes a huge deal about the pads waving them about because she thought her daughter left them at home while she’s on her period. Ok, so this wasn’t just subtle adult humor; this movie is going there, I realized. My kids had questions at this moment.

Talking about periods wasn’t on the agenda for this carefree evening. And, honestly, it isn’t on the agenda anytime soon for my little girls. Having these conversations, in the middle of a movie, I might add, is just as hard on them as it is on me. Yes, I was blindsided with having to address this topic, but so were they. Is my 5 year old daughter supposed to just accept the fact that she’ll bleed from her vagina every month for years to come to prepare her body to have sex and have babies and then finish the hour and a half of the fun family movie?! As if! I remember those conversations with my own mother. I cried … seriously. It can be a scary, uncertain, and serious topic — not something to briefly explain in the middle of an animated movie. It’s just not the family dialogue we should have during this lighthearted evening or even in the first 5 years of life, to be honest.

Boy crazy much?

The scene in this “family” movie that really got me wondering if I should continue to watch with the kids is when Mei Lee is alone in her room, fantasizing about the cute boy from the Daisy Mart. She finds herself drawing pictures of him, detailing his muscles and his abs. Suddenly she’s hiding under the bed with her drawings and starts drawing faster and faster and faster as she gets bug-eyed, panting heavily. I immediately perked up from the couch and was ready to hit the remote because I honestly wasn’t sure where Disney was going with this scene next. The insinuation was a bit uncomfortable for me sitting next to my little girls.

To intensify the awkward scene, Mei Lee’s mother finds her drawings and gets disgusted as she turns the notebook sideways and upside down to view the center-folded, inappropriate drawings as if she just found her daughter’s porn stash from under her bed. Words like “sicko” and “sexy” were thrown around in these moments of the movie. Now, I 100% recognize that my girls will have crushes (my 5 year old girl has already begun that phase), and I can absolutely appreciate that time in her life where she becomes a bit flirtatious and likes boys, but she doesn’t need to see Mei Lee getting so wrapped up in her feelings, hiding her intense feelings from her mother, and then getting shamed for it. I think it’s cute and quite innocent when my daughter comes home to tell me how the cute boy from class chased her on the playground, but I feel like this movie could’ve tainted that. It was a bit extreme for my daughter to see a little girl taking her thoughts to that level on the screen.

The other female characters in the movie seem to be a bit obsessive with boys themselves. I mean, a couple of characters mention “gyrating” one’s hips multiple times when it comes to feeling those feelings toward boys. Why do I need to make the connection of crushes to private areas with my little kids? A crush is just a crush to them right now, nothing more. This movie suggested it can definitely lead to something more. The same girls who “gyrate” in the movie literally drool over boys throughout the entire film whether it’s the boy-band they’re hustling money to see, the older store clerk, or some boys playing basketball. I mean, they actually catcall at the boys from the bleachers. Liking boys and flirting is completely natural and normal, but do we really need to teach our girls that’s it’s ok and even a little funny to do the same thing we’ve been trying to teach our sons NOT to do? Pick a political correctness here, Disney.

At the end of the day, the humor just went over their heads.

What was meant to be funny for a youthful audience, wasn’t. Mature content aside, the 2002 setting had no appeal to my kids either – Tamagotchis and CDs are things of the past that I don’t think my kids have a clue about. Now, this is the one fraction of the movie I actually did personally enjoy because I thought the satirical boyband bit was spot-on and did bring me back to my own 13 year old girl feels, but my own kids couldn’t relate and quite frankly were unimpressed and not entertained.

Call my kids sheltered; call me uptight; call me naïve; make all the excuses. But, Disney did not need to force me to have these mature conversations with my kids. When advertised on Disney+ as a cute furry panda, of course the little ones are going to beg to watch. But when the cute furry panda, forces my kids to understand things their little minds just aren’t ready to grasp, it definitely leaves me feeling duped and my kids slightly corrupted. I give this movie two RED angry faces. The kids didn’t appreciate it and Mommy couldn’t handle it. I highly recommend doing your own research on the film before turning this one on for the family.

Tell us, what did YOU think of the movie???

Wife to my high school sweetheart, Ross, and mother to 5 children: Trip, Conner, McKenzie, Piper, and Sutton, I am a born and raised Southern Louisiana Lady. I am a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy, received my Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Secondary Ed. from LSU followed by my Master’s of Education from UNO, and for the past 15 years, I have been outwitting high school boys as an English teacher at Holy Cross School. When I’m not grading papers, driving to baseball practices, or making grocery runs, I can be found cheering on my LSU Tigers, cutting up with my girlfriends, and attempting DIY projects around the home. I’m all about sippin’ some wine during the sunset while the kiddos play in the yard and the hubby works the grill. I’m living my best mommy life these days and am always happy to share the journey with others!


  1. This movie is definitely not like other Pixar movies in many ways. A big difference is that it’s the first Pixar film that was entirely led by women, some which are mothers. They created a coming of age story of an Asian-Canadian girl. Periods, confusing hormone-fueled boy crushes, mother/daughter struggles, sisterhood, and rebellion are all part of coming of age as a woman. I loved the film, but I’m an adult without young children to ask me tough questions. It wouldn’t have hurt for Pixar/Disney to be clearer about the movie content. Parents are allowed to choose when and how they expose their children to mature topics. I can imagine menstruation is a mature topic for a 3- or 5-year-old. Sometimes a disclaimer can go a long way.

  2. “I’m too dumb to read about what I introduce my children to so I let papa Disney decide for me and now I’m butthurt my kids know about real life now”

    Went ahead and shortened your review for ya. Made it much more accurate.

  3. Um, Im sorry you didnt like the movie. Im sorry you did not see that this was clearly labeled as a coming of age story. Im sorry you were caught off guard. But Im also sorry that you let your emotions get so carried away that you described a COMPLETELY different movie than the one I viewed. None of your review accurately describes any of the scenes in the movie. I hope anyone who reads your editorial will view the movie first before passing judgement on it based on the fabrications in your article.

  4. I didn’t see it, but from what you wrote I agree with you 100% !!! Let children be children and quit pushing sex is ok before marriage to kids! There are a lot of hidden agendas in some of the Disney movies I’ve seen. And for the record I am no prude. I’ve made mistakes in my life. I am 70 yo with 6 children and 14 grandchildren. And I wouldn’t want little ones watching their garbage!

  5. Hi Jennifer
    As a fellow Mca Aluma – I can speak to my experience that I was totally sheltered by catholic school reproductive education; and the semblance of a vague talk that I got only months before puberty. There was no awareness of natural body experiences and many times for girls that can create shame (many memories of hiding tampons / pads on the way to the bathroom). And as a nurse , I think I recognize the importance of body safety rules for our kids – to protect their innocence.
    I am curious if you have had a chance to review the many well articulated other perspectives on the Facebook page and if you still hold the same viewpoint.
    I agree conversations can see scary when our parents likely waited (I know mine did ) until the very last possible minute to have any semblance of a talk.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this comment

    • This is the beauty of New Orleans Mom, so many differing perspectives shared for ALL moms. I absolutely welcomed ALL opinions (as I try my best to read and respond to all of the ones here). And, to answer your question, I definitely thought more about my perspective and my own behavior as a woman raising daughters after publishing. I had second thoughts that maybe I SHOULD be taking the time to explain periods and body changes to my 3yo and 5yo girls. And, after engaging in so many conversations about it both here and in other forums, I am definitely more aware of this very important topic and will parent accordingly. I really appreciate your taking the time to not only read my article but to share your very relatable insight for me and other mothers here. Thank you for doing so! Go Cubs!

      • Thank you for the reply ! I am looking forward to watch the behind the scenes they released to also seek clarity for myself for soMe of the scenes discussed that went over my head when I watched .
        Best regards

  6. I agree completely. No consequences for any bad behavior in this movie and don’t support children of 13 thinking it’s encouraged to fantasize about 17 year olds, disobey and lie to their family, think their friends are their most important people, “parade their panda around for everyone to see” or have the belief it’s “their panda, their choice.” Maybe when my kids were older we could laugh at their sassiness but at 2-8 years old my kid’s were unimpressed and I’m alarmed.

  7. Totally DISAGREE. My young children didn’t ask about the pads. Wasn’t a focal point. My 11 yr old boy child who knows about periods didn’t get embarrassed or ask questions either.

  8. Haha wow

    First of all, it’s 100% on you for not knowing the themes of this movies; articles about it are everywhere and even the headlines make it clear what it is about. That’s your mistake.

    Two, the histrionics and pearl clutching are pathetic. Attaching your own weird hangups to this movie is one thing but telling the internet about it? God, how mortifying. Grow up.

    • New Orleans Mom prides itself on being able to share all viewpoints and perspectives on all topics. One of the beauties of social media is to have a platform for everyone to do so. Thank you very much for taking the time to read it.

  9. I watched it with my two yr old four yr old and 5yr old we loved it was super cute and funny. They didn’t ask any questions about the pads or any of that they just watched and enjoyed. Try it sometime Karen.

  10. Thank you for taking the time to write this article. I did enjoy reading it. I agree with you that the topics about periods and sex are not something I want my 5yr old to be learning about right at this moment. Maybe when he is a few years older but this is not the time. My 19 month old wouldn’t understand and she doesn’t sit still to watch TV anyway. I have read a few other articles and have spoken with my husband. We both agree this movie is not for our family just yet. Maybe when our kids are a little older.
    My mom never had the conversation with me about my period and I am OK with that. Each child is different and each parent will know when is the right time and how to go about talking about it. I feel that is my mom would have tried to talk to me about anything like this I would have shut down on her.
    I am proud of you for writing YOUR point of view on this movie and I appreciate you taking the time tell us all. If someone does not like what you say they are welcome to have that opinion just as you are allowed to have yours on the movie. They do not need to be rude to you or put you down just because you have a platform and were able to voice your thoughts and they happen to not be the same thoughts they have.

    • Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts and for the comforting words. I’m beyond grateful to the NOM organization for giving me the opportunity to have a voice and share my perspective. Thank you for reading the article!


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