Disney has dedicated a whole episode of its new Baymax! series on Disney Plus to a young girl facing her first period, showing its hero asking for period product recommendations in a pharmacy.
In what has historically been an unusual move for the media company and its animation arm, the show delves into the feelings and experience many have when they first begin menstruating.
The six-episode series, which released on Disney Plus on June 29, follows the friendly inflatable healthcare companion, Baymax, from Disney’s 2014 Oscar-winning film Big Hero 6.
This time, he’s interacting with ‘normal folks’, according to series creator Don Hall, identifying a physical problem that they are having and seeking to fix it.
The cast includes Scott Adsit as Baymax and Maya Rudolph as Aunt Cass, reprising their roles from the movie.
In episode three of the Walt Disney Animation Studios show, Baymax encounters Sofia, a 12-year-old panicking in the toilets after getting her first period.
After Sofia worries about not having any ‘menstrual hygiene materials’ as Baymax puts it, he heads to the pharmacy and asks for help from fellow customers, who suggest tampons and pads with and without wings, as well as ‘scented and bleach-fee’ options, an ‘environmentally friendly’ choice and something which could be easier for a first period.
In among the crowd of inclusive recommenders is a father who says, ‘my daughter always gets these’, as well as a character wearing a pink, blue and white striped in what appears to be a clear nod to the Transgender Pride flag.
After being presented with her many choices, Sofia panics over not being able to use a tampon, prompting Baymax to offer: ‘If you require, I can pull up an instructive video to show you how to.’
He also later counsels: ‘It is common for people to feel embarrassed, fearful or uncomfortable with the subject of menstruation, but t is just biology. It is nothing to be ashamed of.’
This new release comes after ground-breaking Disney-Pixar film Turning Red was released on the streaming platform in March, which also tackled the topic of periods.
In the film, lead character Mei’s mother Ming is seen sorting through a stack of tampons and pads – thought to be the first time these have been shown in an animated Disney film – after she assumes her 13-year-old daughter is having a period for the first time, rather than transforming into a giant red panda.
In fact, Turning Red’s central panda transformation can also be read as an obvious metaphor for menstruation, as Mei is surprised and panicked by what is happening to her body, as well as paranoid over people finding out.
She is also triggered into her change by moments of high stress and emotion.
Turning Red faced backlash for including what is still considered by many to be a taboo topic, with some viewers bombing Rotten Tomatoes with low-rated reviews, branding the film ‘offensive and disrespectful’, ‘totally inappropriate for kids’ and ‘disgusting’.
Its director Domee Shi said that she had specifically wanted to explore the ‘juicy’ topic of puberty and a mother-daughter dynamic in Turning Red, telling Metro.co.uk at the UK gala screening: ‘I think I felt like I had more to explore in that relationship between a parent and a child, but I wanted to explore the specificity of that mother–daughter relationship – especially through puberty, which is so juicy.
‘It’s so complex, so emotional, so awkward, that it just really deserved to have a feature film of its own to really dissect it and explore.’
Baymax! and Turning Red are both available to stream on Disney Plus now.
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