Baopu #34: How Not To Talk To a Girl

Welcome to Saturday Morning Cartoons, a segment where five artists take turns delighting you with their whimsy, facts and punchlines on Saturday mornings! Our esteemed cartoon critters are Cameron GlavinAnna BongiovanniYao Xiao, and co-creators Megan Praz and Moll Green. Today’s cartoon is by Yao!

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Yao Xiao

Yao Xiao is a China-born illustrator based in New York City. Yao Xiao creates artwork depicting a poetic visual world where complex concepts and human emotions are examined, amplified, and given physical form. Her work has helped people all over the globe connect at unique moments, from the celebration of the 20 Year Anniversary of the SXSW Interactive Festival, to the grand release of pop singer Katy Perry's single 'Dark Horse.' She has created deeply emotional and beautiful graphics for editorial print publications, pop music record covers, concert posters and book covers. Yao Xiao's serialized comic Baopu currently runs monthly on Autostraddle. It is an original comic exploring the nuances in searching for identities, connections and friendships through the fictional life of a young, queer emigrant. Baopu stands for 'holding simplicity,' a Taoist ideal of wishing to return to a simpler state. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy or her website.

Yao has written 131 articles for us.


  1. Now that I am an adult I realize how hard it is to be a girl. How much energy it takes to grow up hearing all these things and have to fight it. I am still fighting it.

  2. Great comic! It’s weird that some parents go to the absolute opposite extreme with their female children (which is also bad, just in very different ways). My dad actively discouraged me from exhibiting any femininity (no make up, no revealing clothing, no touchy-feely emotional talks, etc.), and it took me a really long time to be comfortable with doing anything that people think of as “girly.” It’s like he thought that to raise a strong daughter, he had to treat me like a boy and actively suppress anything sort of gender expression that could be sexualizing/objectifying. It just ended up making me really ashamed of my body and feelings.

    • SAME. As well-intentioned as my father is, he’s definitely a big factor in why it took me so long to come to terms with being a AFAB nonbinary femme with a lot of disconnect from my body.

  3. I’m afab trans-masculine and got that tomboy talk approaching puberty. My mum invented this sequel to famous five where George was cishet but w a thing for her cousin… Idk if she realised they were all siblings & a cousin…

  4. I found it interesting that when I came out as trans, my girlfriends instantly wanted to throw those “girly stereotypes” my way. First I got a makeup set, then she chose some outfits lined with lace or other nonsense, and finally just assuming I would enjoy typical “girl’s night out” “spa days” or other past times I should suddenly enjoy. Because that’s what girls do, right?
    I have to admit – I got some joy in exploring these things, and I know they were trying to be supportive, but the girly girly thing wasn’t really me. And I didn’t really understand why my cis-friends would want to spread this nonsense in the first place?
    Anyway, just thought it related to the post, because it’s not always growing up that we hear these messages. It can continue all through our lives ^__^

    • To give a contrasting experience, I’d been dying all my life to get to do some of those things, and my friends mostly assumed I didn’t want to even after I came out, because I’d so carefully concealed my interest before. Moral of the story: we’re all different, and sometimes it’s better to ask what someone wants.

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