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Profound Messages Behind Your Favorite Childhood Stories

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

Looking back at my favorite childhood shows or films has made me recognize the much deeper meaning they carry that swept by me as a child. Although these films portray a lot of goofy moments, they demonstrate serious messages that we could admire much more as adults. Have you ever taken a minute to consider how intense these scenes actually are? These stories are heartwarming, yes, but they are also heartbreaking, traumatic, profound, and even disturbing at times.

Winnie the Pooh and friends

There is so much to learn from the Winnie the Pooh and Friends franchise which demonstrates the importance of connection and friendship. These quirky, loveable characters each hold a very special meaning to us. They even portray magnificent representations of various mental illnesses, as each character portrays how different mental illnesses can appear

Pooh symbolizes an eating disorder through binge-eating honey. He doesn’t stop eating, even when he’s full. It gets to a point where he can’t even fit through Rabbit’s door because he eats so much. Piglet represents an anxiety disorder through his constant shakiness and twitchiness. Also, it is shown that his anxiety levels severely worsen in stressful atmospheres. Tigger demonstrates attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder through his restlessness and spontaneous behavior. Tigger is often seen bouncing rapidly, showing his hyperactive behavior. He is also described as impulsive through his attitude of always diving into any task without considering the consequences. Rabbit portrays obsessive-compulsive disorder through his dire need to constantly be cleaning, organizing, and planning. He specifically tends to his garden, protecting it from any damage. Eeyore depicts major depressive disorder through his despondent mood and low self-esteem. He frequently makes self-deprecating remarks like “Thanks for noticing me.” Ultimately, Christopher Robinson, the only human in the Winnie the Pooh and Friends franchise, embodies schizophrenia. It can be inferred that the animal characters in this story are a creation from Robinson’s imagination. This explains why the characters have stuffed animal appearances, being stitched up like toys.

As innocent children, we overlooked the mental illnesses the characters suffered. Looking back now, these mental disorders are so prevalent through each character’s behaviors. There are several quotes from the stories of Winnie the Pooh and friends that hit so much deeper than prior.

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you,” Pooh said to Piglet.

This scene was intended to be a quirky, light-hearted scene, but has now become much more heartfelt. This statement has become a renowned expression of telling someone you love them.

Up

This Pixar movie reflects on a major theme that may have surpassed you at such a young theme. It shows us that life isn’t about reaching a final destination, it’s about the journey. Carl was so focused on Ellie’s dream of traveling to South America that he forgot to also enjoy the journey along the way. There are many people to meet and experiences to cherish with no specific end goal in life. Up indicates that nothing lasts forever through Carl’s loss of his wife. Therefore, you need to appreciate what you have when you have it before it’s not there anymore.

“You will always be my greatest adventure,” Carl said, in reference to Ellie.

Carl tries to recreate those unforgettable moments he shared with Ellie through his journey to South America, but he realizes that, despite flying his house across the world, his greatest adventure will still always be his connection with Ellie. However, her death does not mean he needs to stop living life to the fullest, if anything it means he should be cherishing every moment of his life in honor of her.

The Lion King

The Lion King is a movie about Simba’s journey to overcoming his fears to take his father’s place as king. However, an essential message some kids miss is the grief Simba experiences from the loss of his father. Throughout the film, Simba struggles through each stage of grief. His anger stage is shown when he portrays feeling abandoned by his father.

“You said you’d always be there for me,” Simba shouted to the sky. “But you’re not.”

His anger shortly vanishes once he regrets his shouts and begins to think it’s all his fault. Simba is only able to come to terms with his father’s death when he learns the truth: Scar killed his father. Simba was not able to fully cope with his loss due to the guilt he felt for his part in it. The end of the movie is an excellent scene with so much symbolism. There’s rain that renews the land, symbolizing rebirth as Simba takes on his righteous place as king. By the movie’s end, Simba can finally start anew and overcome his grief. 

finding nemo

Finding Nemo is a movie that encapsulates a lot of loss, not only through the loss portrayed in Nemo’s and Marlin’s separation from one another but also through the backstory of the film. Nemo’s mother was murdered by a barracuda before Nemo even hatched, causing Marlin to be so overprotective of Nemo. Being so sheltered, Nemo seeks greater freedom, causing him to go too far and become separated from his father throughout the film. Themes like death, abandonment, and grief are introduced in a relatable, light-hearted manner through Finding Nemo.

“I look at you, and I… and I’m home. Please, I don’t want that to go away. I don’t want to forget,” Dory says in Finding Nemo.

Dory has a fear of abandonment, as she conveys in the movie that nobody has ever stuck with her as long as Marlin. Therefore, when Marlin is contemplating giving up, Dory begs him to not leave her. Marlin brings Dory a sense of comfort that she has never been able to feel before.

Coraline

Coraline dissects themes of deception by conveying that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. This film acts as a reminder to always trust our gut instinct and be weary if something doesn’t feel right. Various messages can be interpreted from Coraline, but one main takeaway is the dangerous events that occur due to the neglect Coraline encounters from her parents. When the Beldam family contrastingly treats Coraline with kindness she initially becomes excited to feel loved and desired, which she lacks from her real parents. However, Coraline soon discovers that Beldam’s kindness is a mask so they can manipulate and control Coraline. Coraline desperately tries chasing the ‘perfect’ parents to feel a sense of belonging, but in reality, she is chasing something worse.

“Now, you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names,” the unnamed cat says in Coraline. 

We are constantly attempting to find an identity to stand out, but it appears the cats have it all figured out. Throughout the film Coraline tries to chase what she doesn’t have and figure herself out, while the cats, ironically, already have it all figured out. One main takeaway from this movie is that perfect doesn’t exist.

These are only a few examples of some childhood films with much deeper messages, but the majority of Gen Z’s most popular childhood tales have serious themes. We love movies from our childhood because they evoke feelings of nostalgia with happy endings, but these endings don’t form without severe heartbreak.

Isabel White is a junior at the University of Central Florida pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. This is her second year as a writer in Her Campus. She loves thrifting, visiting coffee shops, exploring new music, and journaling.