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Turning Red: Disney’s Era of Representation

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kutztown chapter.

From Encanto to Turning Red, Disney is opening up their doors to diversity and connecting with a broader audience. Turning Red is the story of Mei Lee, a young girl who struggles with living up to her mom’s expectations and having an identity of her own. As she struggles with this dilemma, she also has to control her sudden gift of turning into a red panda whenever she experiences strong emotions. 

Similar to Encanto, Turning Red showcases an inner battle with generational trauma. Mei Lee’s mother places pressure on her daughter to excel and criticizes the aspects she does not like in Mei Lee. Throughout the movie, Mei Lee has to hide her true self to keep the approval of her mom. This is later seen as something her own mother dealt with and, Mei Lee must decide to break this cycle of generational trauma. 

Generational trauma is something many people of color experience due to the cultural clashes between their family background and their own identities. Many POC grow up in a family-centered culture, which can be confusing during a critical time of growth. It’s hard for them to establish their true self since they seek approval from their families. Due to their families’ traditional values, they have to hide parts of themselves to maintain peace. With Turning Red, Disney gives POC children the representation they need. It shows them that they are seen and their experiences don’t have to mirror the prominent stories of white protagonists. I’m excited to see what the next Disney movie will showcase as they take a big leap into more diverse stories. 

Professional Writing Major, Social Media Theory & Strategy and Public Relations Minor with a love for books and music.