Content Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the Disney movie Turning Red.
Meilin Lee is the charming 13-year-old protagonist in Pixar’s Turning Red. The likable character’s story arc is the focus of the animated film, which follows her as she grapples with an inner beast that unexpectedly appears one day and complicates her life.
Mei’s best quotes reflect her endearing personality. While some of them are lighthearted, the majority of her memorable lines are surprisingly deep, tackling themes like shame, familial expectations, and autonomy. As more fans discover the instant classic and learn behind-the-scenes facts (as covered by Screen Rant), it’s the perfect time to recall Mei’s most iconic quotes from the film.
“Be Careful, Honoring Your Parents Sounds Great, But If You Take It Too Far, Well, You Might Forget To Honor Yourself.”
It’s easy to see that Mei is a likable character from the start of the film, as her entertaining monologue tells viewers everything they need to know about the protagonist. In fact, she even sums up the core message of the movie with her line about forgetting “to honor” oneself if one takes “it too far” with honoring one’s parents.
Mei spends most of her time in the film figuring out the right balance between being a good daughter and making room for self-love and acceptance. It’s not an easy task, especially considering the familial and cultural expectations that weigh on her.
“Not To Brag, But Being Thirteen Means I’m Officially A Grown-Up… At Least According To The Toronto Transit Commission.”
There are numerous funny quotes from Mei, with one of them being her overconfident line on officially being “a grown-up.” Thirteen is a tricky age for the character who begins to undergo normal changes in her mind and body, including the infamous red panda.
Throughout the film, Mei talks about how she and her friends are becoming women. While they all share this milestone of becoming teenagers, it’s quite a different experience for each of them, particularly Mei, who has to deal with her incredibly strict mom, Ming.
“You Sicko! What Were You Thinking? Why Would You Draw Those Things? Those Horrible, Awful, Sexy Things? ”
When Ming catches Mei drawing “sexy things” about the store clerk, Devon, all hell breaks loose. The embarrassing encounter that follows is clearly her mom’s fault, but Mei is quick to blame herself for her supposed shortcomings. Her negative self-talk where she calls herself a “sicko” speaks volumes about how she really perceives herself.
The protagonist puts immense pressure on himself, as she understands what her mom expects of her. It’s an impossible standard that shuts down any possibility of exploring other aspects of itself, including her completely normal crush on Devon.
“I Never Ask For Anything – My Whole Life I’ve Been Her Perfect Little Mei-Mei.”
Since Mei is one of the smartest characters in Turning Red, it’s not surprising that she busts out an entire PowerPoint presentation explaining why Ming should let her go to 4 * Town’s concert. Her efforts are sadly wasted, as her mom doesn’t understand why she would want to see “filth.”
This is the final straw for Mei, who recognizes that she has “been her perfect little Mei-Mei” for far too long. She allows herself to embrace the red panda soon after this, underscoring the significance of this moment of rebellion.
“I’ve Been, Like, Obsessed With My Mom’s Approval My Whole Life. I Couldn’t Take Losing It, But Losing You Guys Feels Even Worse. ”
One of the saddest moments in the movie happens when Mei throws her friends under the bus to avoid disappointing her mom. She makes a dramatic entrance to apologize later on, arriving just in time to catch 4 * Town’s next song.
Her explanation about how she’s been “obsessed with” her “mom’s approval” highlights how far she has come at this point. She realizes that her mom’s approval isn’t the whole world. Of course, she couldn’t have done it without her friends who have served as her support system and a source of dissenting opinions as well.
“It Was My Idea To Hustle The Panda, My Idea To Go To Tyler’s Party! It Was All Me! I Like Boys! I Like Loud Music! I Like Gyrating! I’m Thirteen! Deal With It! ”
Mei finally breaks the image of the perfect daughter when her mom confronts her at 4 * Town’s concert. She admits to monetizing her red panda to be able to afford tickets for her and her friends, even ending her angry speech by telling Ming to “deal with it.”
What’s worse is that their entire heated exchange is happening while Ming is in her giant red panda form, making it impossible for the pair to have a calm discussion. She may not have communicated it in the nicest way, but Mei was just trying to tell her mom that she wants to be a teenager like everyone else.
“Well, Sorry I’m Not Perfect! Sorry I’m Not Good Enough! And Sorry I’ll Never Be Like You! ”
In one of the most relatable moments in Turning Red, Mei is almost driven to tears when her mom’s response to her being honest is to say that she “never went to concerts.” Ming angrily shouts that she “tried to be a good daughter,” implying that Mei isn’t.
Mei’s heartbreaking response captures the problem between the mother and daughter. They’re both hurting from familial expectations, but seem to be caught in the vicious cycle that has been going on since Grandma Wu’s time. It’s a serious issue that likely rings true for some viewers who may have found this particular scene almost too painful to watch.
“I’m Changing, Mom. I’m Finally Figuring Out Who I Am, But I’m Scared It’ll Take Me Away From You. ”
A tear-jerking exchange between Mei and Ming happens right before the protagonist decides to fully embrace her red panda. Ming finally acknowledges her mistakes and apologizes to Mei, even telling her not to “hold back for anyone.”
It’s the reassurance Mei needs to let go and just be herself, as she now knows that “the farther” she goes, “the prouder” her mom will be. It’s an emotional scene that highlights just how brave Mei has been throughout her difficult journey to “figuring out who” she really is.
“My Panda, My Choice, Mom.”
The movie ends on a high note, with Mei being her usual funny self. Things have changed around her since that night, which includes her relationship with her mom. One short scene highlights this change, with Ming almost holding Mei back asking if she’s “going out like that.”
Mei’s witty response garners a chuckle instead of an argument, emphasizing just how different their dynamic has become. It’s a comical line that says a lot about the duo, who have both become better people after everything that has happened.
“We’ve All Got An Inner Beast. We’ve All Got A Messy, Loud, Weird Part Of Ourselves Hidden Away, And A Lot Of Us Never Let It Out, But I Did – How About You? ”
Mei leaves viewers with an important message, reminding them that everyone has “an inner beast.” The way she describes this beast as “messy” is likely a callback to a moving conversation she has with her father earlier in the film, where he tells her that it’s okay to “make room” for “all kinds of sides,” even if they may seem like they’re “bad stuff.”
It’s a thought-provoking lesson that is obviously meant to inspire and motivate audiences to explore and make space for self-acceptance. Her final question challenges fans to let their own “inner beast” out, just like Mei did.
NEXT: 10 Of The Most Thought-Provoking Quotes In Turning Red
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