I have never been a huge fan of the comic strip “Cathy”. In the comic strip office world, I had Dilbert on one hand, as exemplar for engineers, and Cathy on the other hand, as the model for professional working women. Neither was particularly appealing to me. Dilbert personifies all the negative geekoid engineering stereotypes, but seems to be taken by the masses as a hipsterish anti-hero. Cathy, much of the time, seems to be a blithering idiot who is way too fixated on her appearance, the need to cram the body she doesn’t love into the latest skinny-minny fashions, and the desire to eat the food she is denying herself on her latest diet. In other words, she personifies all the negative stereotypes of women in general.
It is true that the Cathy strips are often attempting to satirize women’s obssession with dieting, fashion, and appearance, but the satire doesn’t cut very deeply.
But today’s strip really hacked me off. In today’s strip, Cathy committed what I will call the Barbie “Math is Hard!” Offense. (Look for the April 24, 2007 strip if you are reading this post on a later date.)
Cathy is at a cosmetics counter where a saleslady or esthetician in a white lab coat points at a chart explicating some beauty product, and reads ingredients from the list to Cathy. Cathy has a stupefied expression on her face and replies “Huh?” to each mention of an ingredient or property of the product. Finally the saleslady says
By paralyzing the brain with scientific mumbo-jumbo, we reduce the muscle contractions that help create wrinkles…and TA DA! Who needs Botox?
This is evil in so many ways I can’t even begin to describe it. Women’s brains will be paralyzed by the contemplation of a list of chemical ingredients in makeup products? Because, you know, it’s all science-y and everything. But hey! It’s all good, because it prevents wrinkles! Which is all we really care about anyway!
A pox on you, Cathy.