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Disney Pixar’s Turning Red: 9 things that Chinoys can relate to

When I saw Turning Red trending on a certain blue bird app, it was to see thousands of netizens defending how relatable a film about a Chinese-Canadian girl who can turn into a human-sized red panda can actually be. Allegedly, some (read: American) reviewers have commented on how hard it was to connect with the pre-adolescent Meilin, who struggles between discovering her individuality and maintaining filial piety. I myself am not Canadian, but I sure am a descendant of Chinese immigrants. So I thought, “Disney has never failed me. Maybe I’ll give it a shot. How relatable will this movie be for me?”

As it turns out, the answer is a lot. 

Bright, effusive, and full of teenage energy, Meilin opens the movie with a monologue that speaks true to many a Chinese child: “The number one rule in my family? Honor your parents. They’re the supreme beings who gave you life, who sweated and sacrificed so much to put a roof over your head, food on your plate — an epic amount of food. The least you can do in return is every single thing they ask.” 

It was funny, and it was an absolute truth, so I decided to make a list of everything else that resonated with my experiences growing up as a Chinese-Filipino kid. While it may not be a universal list for all the other Chinoys out there, there’s bound to be something that hits home for you! Check out our rundown here:


1. “This girl loves math.” 

Not all Asians are good at math, but we’re often believed to be. And if not, then your parents probably tried to make you improve. Take a shot if you’ve taken Kumon as a kid; do double if you’ve actually finished it!


2. Knowing how to play a musical instrument 

Okay, maybe you don’t know how to play the piano or the violin. Maybe you decided to abandon those summer lessons into the long-lost memories of your childhood. The point is that you probably tried at some point, right?


3. Helping out with the family business

Basically, ko tiam. Was it after school or over your summer vacation? Whatever your schedule was, we’re willing to bet that you, too, were a member of the child labor force!


4. Getting good grades to prepare for your future

Or as Meilin’s mother says: “Today, honor student. Tomorrow, UN secretary-general!” 

Some Chinoy parents have certain standards about academic excellence. If you were one of those kids, you might recall that the pressure may have been intense, but just remember: your parents only want the best for you!


5. Burning incense for your ancestors

You probably do this during All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. After all, it’s tradition to burn incense for your deceased loved ones. 


6. Having Chinese food at home

One of the best things about this Pixar film is its amazing food animation! It just makes us so nostalgic about our own home cooking. In our house, congee usually comes with a good serving of maho (read: shredded pork)!


7. Aunties

“She’s lost weight!” “No, no, she’s gained weight!”

“She looks like her mother.” “She looks like her father!”

We’re sure the endless ambush of questions is truly a universal experience. 


8. Family dinners with the Lazy Susan

Is it really a family gathering if you’re not sitting at a round table? We’re of the opinion that whoever invented the Lazy Susan (i.e. that spinning center of the table that makes food so easy to reach) is a certified genius!


9. The Asian dad look

It’s practically textbook at this point! The button-up polo, belt, generic pants, and glasses really complete the wardrobe of a Chinoy dad!


Did we miss anything? Share what’s your most relatable Turning Red moment in the comments below!


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