When I first started making autobiographical comics and illustrations, I took hundreds of pictures of myself to get an objective sense of what I looked like. These days I've got my depiction down to a science: I draw myself barefoot with wide thighs and unstudied hair (think loose ponytails and sloppy buns). My clothes are as bland as possible: baggy T-shirts in various shades of beige, bunchy robes, discount leggings, and nary a fun accessory.

Looking at cartoon me, you'd never know that my actual self wears a lot of mismatched bold patterns and polka dots. My actual self pairs orange lipstick with bird-print blouses and struts around in neon purple Keds. My actual self dresses like the inside of a jawbreaker candy, and my cartoon self has got to be jealous.

Cartoon Sophie is out in public a lot—she's in several publications and just got a book deal. But I've always worried that if I make her too fabulous, Internet trolls will go wild with cracks about my delusional self-image. It's happened before: A few years ago, a stranger messaged me to say, "I thought you were making yourself look fugly as a joke, but you're gross IRL, too." Ashamed of my unearned gusto (and worried he was right), I didn't write anything else—or read the comments section—for months.

A mentor once told me that for every loudmouthed troll who gets off on making women feel bad, there are dozens of women who are quietly grateful to be represented. And as more ladies in the world have modeled being loud and large, I've decided Cartoon Sophie should get a little braver, too. Just last week, I opened an old comic on my computer, zoomed in on my illustrated sweatpants, and carefully added polka dots.

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