Saturday Morning Cartoons: Baopu #15

Welcome to Saturday Morning Cartoons, a segment where four artists take turns delighting you with their whimsy, facts and punchlines on Saturday mornings! Our esteemed cartoon critters are Cameron GlavinAnna BongiovanniMegan Praz and Yao Xiao. 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.



    I have been pondering this general topic a lot lately, and this beautiful comic just helped everything click together in a way that I probably wouldn’t have come up with in my own brain. <3

  2. I read an article that made the same point one time. it’s such a smart way of looking at things. saying thank you is usually much more potent and meaningful than apologizing, and it allows you to be gentler to yourself as well.

    thanks for the comic!

    • I’ve seen similar articles as well. I’ve mostly seen them from the point of view that apologizing to someone rather than thanking them (“sorry I’m rambling” vs “thanks for listening” for example) can actually make them view us negatively. While they might not have thought we were rambling before, when we shine a light on it, it can often make the other person go, “Yea, that is kind of annoying.”

      Apologizing for unnecessary reasons can also dilute the meaning of our apologies. So, when we really do something we should apologize for (“sorry I broke your favorite coffee mug; I’ll replace it”), because we apologize so much it sounds insincere.

      So really, apologizing (when not necessarily needed) really doesn’t help anyone in these situations.

  3. I’m gonna share this with my teenager, who has inherited my tendency to apologize for existing. :\ Thank you!

  4. I want to print this out and hang it on my wall. I really appreciate you giving me the words to say things that I often feel but cannot always express.

  5. I am totally guilty of doing this, and so are a lot of people I know. One of my coworkers will always apologize after she sneezes. SNEEZES! She apologizes for this normal, involuntary bodily function!

    It’s a shame that we are so often taught to put ourselves down (“sorry for existing”) before we are taught to appreciate others for helping to raise us up (“thank you for being there for me”).

    • “It’s a shame that we are so often taught to put ourselves down (“sorry for existing”) before we are taught to appreciate others for helping to raise us up (“thank you for being there for me”).”


      • When people apologise for existing, I start getting really anxious and thinking – oh shit I exist too, I sneeze, I take up space, oh no, am I standing wrong, and then we all go into an anxiety death spiral together.

        Saying thank you instead makes the opposite of this happen! “Thank you for listening!” “Thank YOU for sharing!” “Thank *YOU* for existing!” “Thank **YOU** for taking up space!” etc.

  6. Oh man, i just had a conversation last night about how i apologize way too much for things I shouldn’t. This is really really perfect.

  7. It was with me, @Mey! This was so on time- I apologize about everything and often annoy my bosses. I’ll learn to turn it around with a “thank you.”

  8. I’ve been trying harder and harder not to do this lately for sure. No doubt that just saying it doesn’t make you not *think* it, and nobody should feel ashamed for saying the “wrong thing.” In my case, though, I find doing this does help a little bit – it makes me stop and wonder: why do I want to apologize when I’m not actually sorry? Thanks for the comic!

  9. I actually have no idea what to say to this. A friend shared it earlier in the evening and it took my breath away. Especially when I reached the last panel and realised that, all the way through, I had read it as a censure of people like me who do this, and not as reinforcing intrinsic worth.

    I need to think about some things. Thank you.

    • I feel the need to give you this.

      Struggling with feelings of worth expecting everything to be a censure, been there and at times still doing that.
      Good luck kiddo, you deserve it.

    • Me too. I still feel more chastised than built up. Gonna read through again, but blah. Some of the commenters are talking about apologizing when they aren’t sorry; maybe that’s really who it’s aimed at. For me, I genuinely am sorry to have imposed or to have been an annoyance, or whatever, so telling me not to apologize when I feel bad for my behavior…feels insensitive, I guess. And chastize-y.

  10. Thank you for this. Really something I needed to reflect on today. I always appreciate your comics- so much heart!

  11. Sometimes you want to signal to someone that you’re very self-aware so that they don’t feel like you’re mindlessly taking advantage of their patience, but I like the idea of turning that into a thank-you rather than an apology. (“Thanks for listening to me, I know I often ramble.”)

    I was kind of surprised at the picture of the cartoonist. For someone whose cartoon is all about not apologizing for your existence, she sure seems unhappy with herself.

    I don’t mean that as an insult, just as an observation: someone who looks in the mirror, sees their natural hair and eyes and lips and thinks “Well, I’m gonna poke holes in this, change the color of all these things, shave off half of this here, and cover up with a winter hat” isn’t totally content with themselves.

    Maybe she took the picture, THEN had a realization and drew the comic. Hope she gains more confidence by following her own advice.

    • Appearance-based self-expression does not indicate a lack of contentment and it’s honestly a little insulting for you to imply that. As someone with many piercings, tattoos, and an ever-changing hair color, I don’t do any of those things because of a lack of confidence. I am confidently expressing who I am by the ways I present myself, everything from my clothes to hairstyle to jewelry choices. Don’t police women’s bodies and then cover it up with faux concern about them not having confidence or self-respect.

      • Calling it “appearance-based self-expression” masks the fact that it indicates a decision to alter one’s natural body, a decision that simply doesn’t happen when one is content with it.

        Calling it “policing” denies the fact that it was an observation accompanied by both a compliment (I liked the basic idea in the cartoon) and well-wishes (I wished the cartoonist contentment). There was no order or threat. There was no appeal to authority. There was no reference to any law.

    • This is the most condescending comment I have ever had the displeasure of reading on this website. You have NO place to comment on the appearance of anyone on this website or anywhere, period. You have NOTHING of value to say about someone who has given us an incredibly vulnerable, beautiful piece of work.

      • On this website, I may comment on whatever I like so long as I follow the commenting guidelines (which I read and made sure I was following, because I anticipated a negative aggressive response from certain Grinches). Anywhere period, I may say whatever I want so long as it is not a direct threat or an incitation to panic. So, you’re wrong on both counts.

      • My assessment of the artist’s appearance was neutral, I was merely struck by its contrast with the message of the cartoon.

    • Ah yes, winter hats. Universal sign of discontent and low self-esteem since…. never.

      On the bright side, I only clicked on this article and got to read the amazing comic (print is going on the wish list) and see the rad photo because I saw Rie’s reply to this ridiculous comment on the homepage and was intrigued. So, thanks for that!

      • Not sure why you’re calling me “Mom”. That is a gendered slur–and particularly hurtful since I identify as male. (Though you had no way to know that, so no harm no foul.)

        Anyway, I like our society’s old ethics. Nothing tiring about them!

    • I think the fundamental problem here is that you’re drawing an arbitrary line between which forms of self expression are acceptable and which are not, then making woefully uninformed opinions about the motives of those who’ve crossed it. When you choose what clothes to put on in the morning, or what shoes to wear, or how to cut or style your hair, you are, by *your* definition, not content with your natural appearance. That somebody’s idea of how they’d like to look on a given day includes a side-shave and a little bit of hair dye, and… a hat… shouldn’t register as anything more than, “cool, that’s how they like to dress.” If it seems “extreme” in contrast to how you like to present yourself, maybe it’s worth reflecting on possible biases or stereotypes that color your opinions of others.

  12. 2 quotes I’ve read recently:

    1. ‘Work on finding gratitude without tragedy triggering it’ ~ Someone on Instagram, probably.

    2. ‘Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.’ ~ Alice Walker

    I’ve written these down as a little reminder of how important ‘thank you’s/gratitude can be, both for the giver and the receiver.

    Thank you, autostraddle!

  13. yes yes yes!! thank you for making this art—so important. and thanks to my friend, Paige Z for turning me on to your art. I did a talk, I’m Not Sorry: not pimping–just agreeing with you and joining voices. well done!

  14. I’ve seen this reposted a bit (or linked to? hoping for linked) on the internet the last few days, so I wanted to come back to the original and actually say how much of an impact this comic had on me. I’ve seen similar advice before (“say thanks for your patience instead of apologizing for talking”) but this time it really stuck with me and I’ve been thinking about it all week, and probably all of the next weeks.

    Thank you, so much.

  15. Hey! This just showed up on my Facebook without credits to the original artist, so I wanted to come here and say that there are a lot of people from outside of this site who think this has a strong and pointed message. Great work, and thank you again for sharing!

  16. Hello. I wanted to pop in to say that I love this, especially as a person with chronic illnesses, who is only here because of support from others. I have shared this with my group (, and from the number of shares, it seems as though it resonated with many, many people. Unfortunately, I did not check the source beforehand, so the link I shared is from “Brightside,” but I am going to share this specific link now, and also will like to link to this on a blog I’m writing. Thank you so much for creating this. :)

  17. The first time I read this it really hit home. It was a crazy week at work and when a friend reminded me to take a deep breath before saying something unnecessarily harsh for the millionth time that week, then answered what felt like my millionth dumb question the words “Thank you for being especially patient with me this week.” just fell out of my mouth (but I probably should have added “I’m sorry I’ve been such a jerk this week”).

  18. As much as I appreciate the sentiment of this comic, I cannot help but think of people who have thanked me as a way of deflecting accountability or acknowledgement of having inconvenienced me.

    An example would be “thanks for being patient.” In some cases, I am not being patient. I am simply waiting for you to show the fuck up, and I’m no saint for having to deal with your shit. What will make that right is taking accountability in that moment by acknowledging your wrongdoing and not repeating the same mistake. Compliments and gratitude can wait until that step is completed, otherwise it seems like quite an empty gesture.

    Now, in some of the other scenarios that this comic depicts, I completely understand and agree with the the artist. Apologizing for not making sense when you’re talking to a friend? That’s definitely not necessary!

  19. Thank you so much for this. It made me cry. I am still crying as I write this. I’ve always apologized too much, and I’ve just recently made a conscious effort to try not to as much. But as grateful as a person as I feel that I am, I’m not sure I would’ve ever thought to replace it with various forms of thank you. This is truly a life-changing comic. Thank you for sharing your amazingness with us!

  20. This almost made me cry…thinking about all the disappointment I’ve caused just by existing, and how there’s no way I could ever apologize or make up for any of it.

  21. Is there any way to get a higher quality version of this? I would love to have this on my wall every day when I get up! It really hit me hard that it pretty much sums up all the problems I’ve been having with my current relationship :(

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