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The Small Detail In Turning Red That Has Fans Buzzing About Representation

The newest Disney Pixar film "Turning Red," directed by Domee Shi and co-written by Shi and Julia Cho, is making its way to Disney+ on March 11, 2022. The film follows Meilin "Mei" Lee (Rosalie Chiang), a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who finds herself suddenly turning into a giant red panda when she gets too excited, scared, or angry, due to a curse that runs through her family. From then on, she must learn to deal with the transformation, which returns her to her normal state when she calms down or experiences an overwhelming strong emotion.

"Turning Red" is a major step forward in terms of representation for Disney Pixar. It is the first full-length Pixar film to feature an Asian protagonist (Russell in "Up" is Asian-American, but is clearly the secondary character to Carl), as well as the first to focus on mostly Asian characters (via Nerds of Color). It is also the first to be directed by a woman of color — and Shi is the first woman to direct a Pixar feature film on her own. Shi had previously written and directed the Pixar short film "Bao," which also placed focus on Asian characters and the Asian community; "Bao" ultimately won the Oscar for best animated short film.

Further, it turns out that the representation within "Turning Red" goes beyond its Asian characters, as eagle-eyed viewers have spotted a detail within the film that has them buzzing.

Turning Red features a diabetic character

Recently, a fan, u/Scorch8482, took to Reddit to post a screenshot of the trailer for "Turning Red," in which a surprised classmate spots Mei in her panda form. On the classmate's arm, you can see that she is wearing a Dexcom, which is a device worn on the skin that monitors glucose for individuals with diabetes. The poster wrote, "Is that what I think it is?" Another user, u/dariamorgandorfferr, promptly responded, "It is! There's another trailer that came out a few months ago that gives a clearer look. We love the diabetic rep."

Speaking from their own experience, u/ew73 discussed why representation is so important. They wrote, "Growing up, if there had been people with diabetes that weren't the brunt of a joke in media, maybe it would've helped me see that other kids were going through what I was. It may have helped the 'normal' kids develop a little [empathy], and maybe even taught the teachers they didn't need to announce, 'ew73 has diabetes and can't eat sugar!' to the entire class."

Giving another real-world example of why this small detail is so important, u/das_goose wrote, "My two-year old daughter saw the trailer and not only instantly recognized it but was excited that there was a character who had a Dexcom like her."

While it seems that the character wearing the Dexcom will likely be a minor one — she isn't one of Mei's three best friends shown in the trailer — we can't deny that even the small details make a major difference when it comes to representation. We can't wait to see how it all plays out on screen when "Turning Red" premieres.