The Final Cathy.

Cathy Guisewhite publishes her final Cathy comic strip on October 3. For 34 years, fans have followed the dysthemic, neurotically low self-esteemed, guilt-racked title character as she tried to cope with her mother, her boyfriend, food, the bathing suit sales clerk, and (most centrally and painfully) her own reflection in the mirror. To every reader who struggled with self-acceptance, Cathy was a comfort. You didn’t have to be a woman to receive the message that you were not alone.

I don’t know what Cathy Guisewhite has in mind for her final strip, but I know what I’d like to see. I’d like to see three panels in which Cathy stands before her reflection in the mirror, looking from various angles to see the same person she’s always seen but, for the first time, appearing content; and then, in a fourth and final panel, turning to us to say, “No acerbic, self-flagellating, self-defeating, hope-deflating punchline. If I can like myself, dear reader…so can you.”

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