Before 'Turning Red,' There Was 'The Story Of Menstruation,' The First Disney Movie About Periods
Turning Red is the latest, critically-acclaimed new Pixar movie about a teenager who suddenly turns into a furry creature thanks to a secret family curse – so basically Teen Wolf but more Canadian and, with all due apologies to Michael J. Fox, way less stupid.
Oddly, Turning Red has been the subject of some controversy after being labelled Pixar’s most “unrelatable” project by those who apparently found the story of a Chinese-Canadian girl in the early 2000s more alienating than movies about sentient toys, ant colonies, and anthropomorphic tow trucks that sound like Larry the Cable Guy. Part of what makes Turning Red arguably more relatable than a lot of other cartoons, is that this Disney-released puberty story isn’t simply reliant on its red panda-based allegory, it makes specific strides to normalize periods – a glaring rarity in mainstream entertainment.
The closest we’ve come to periods being brought up in a Disney cartoon was in another Pixar movie: The Incredibles 2. But it was brief, coded, inaccurate, and entirely told from the male perspective.
So is this the first Disney movie to explicitly reference menstruation? Technically no … but it’s been a while. Back in 1946, Walt Disney Productions made The Story of Menstruation, a short, animated educational film – yup, the last time a Disney movie was this open and honest about periods was the same year they released goddamn Song of the South.
The film, sponsored by Kotex, is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination; it makes no reference to blood, or sex, or female activities that aren’t bike riding, putting on make-up or doing housework. But, still, this short is considered to be one of the “pioneering sex education” films and possibly the first movie to use the word “vagina.” Of course, this wasn’t the last Disney-made sex ed film, lest we forget the Disney World attraction in which Martin Short explained where babies come from to confused children who very likely would have preferred to be riding Space Mountain.
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Top Image: Pixar