In defense of Cathy

When cartoonist Cathy Guisewite announced on Aug. 11 that her strip Cathy was ending on Oct. 3, the reaction didn’t surprise me. Mostly, people spoke up to say how terrible the comic was, how Cathy was just about a woman who loved chocolate and worried about men and not being able to fit into a bathing suit.

But you know what? I like Cathy — the strip and the character. I’m sorry to see her go.

I haven’t really read the comic in years, but I’ve enjoyed going back and looking at the archive of strips. In them, I see a woman who has her flaws but nonetheless approaches life with clarity and humor. Yes, she’s obsessed with her weight and gets into small battles with her well-meaning mother, but she’s still capable of taking care of herself.

Is Cathy a role model, someone women should aspire to be? Maybe not, but I don’t think she needs to be. In some ways, she’s better — she’s someone we all know and can relate to. Am I as weight-obsessed as Cathy? No, but I still feel apprehension when I go to try things on in the dressing room. Do I console myself with chocolate? No, but that’s just because I tend to like savory things more as my indulgence.

She’s not me, but I see pieces of myself in Cathy. Certainly, she’s a caricature of some of the less-than-flattering parts of womanhood, but I think that just allows us to laugh at ourselves that much more.

I was talking about Cathy with my mom (I had sent her Shaenon K. Garrity’s Survey of Aacks because I thought she’d get a kick out of it) and she said she always related to Cathy’s experiences. My mom is a smart, independent and capable woman and always has been. If she likes Cathy, that’s a good enough recommendation for me.

The panel included on this entry is from one of our favorite Cathy strips. I actually still have a copy of it from when my mom cut it out of the newspaper for me.

The Comic Riffs interview with Cathy Guisewite is wonderful, and reveals her to be, not surprisingly, witty and charming. I wish her the best of luck.

And I will miss Cathy on the comics pages.

2 thoughts on “In defense of Cathy”

  1. I actually didn’t think that I was a Cathy fan, until I learned that the strip was ending. About a week after I found out, I went to try on a bathing suit and had a Aack moment.

  2. That’s basically how I felt. I didn’t realize how much I liked the strip until I was sharing the news and links with my mom and I thought, hey, Cathy’s actually been an influence on the way I see the world, and that’s a good thing.

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