Defending the right to a really good cry in public
I used to say that I wasn’t much of a crier. My teary moments were reserved for when I was home and alone in my room at the end of a long day. If I ever did cry anywhere else, it was tucked away in a public restroom because I had let my emotions build up and just couldn’t take it anymore.
This idea of swallowing your feelings and soldiering on is a popular one—men can’t cry because it isn’t masculine, and women can’t cry because it’s too feminine. We’re stuck in this trap where we let people think bad things don’t affect us and we just have something in our eyes.
There’s this trope of the hysterical woman, and it’s what used to scare me away from letting the tears flow. If you’re not familiar, this is a character who appears often in TV and film whose sole role is to freak out and cry and make generally irrational decisions based only on the fact that she’s a woman.
Audiences would laugh at this character. She was a joke. Nobody took her feelings seriously. I thought that if I cried when I was stressed, or got in a fight, or was hurt, then I was playing into the idea of women being emotional and crazy. I didn’t want people to think I let the little things get to me. I didn’t want to be one of those girls. You know, the kind with feelings.
This is all based on the idea that crying is a sign of weakness, of defeat, that you’ve given up. If you cry, it means you’ve let whatever it is you’re facing get the better of you. The funny thing about this idea is that it simply isn’t true. When you cry, you’re finally releasing all the bad things that you’ve kept inside. It’s cleansing and it’s genuine. Nobody feels worse after a sob-fest. You feel lighter and stronger, able to view things with a clear eye, ready to start again.
It’s time for a crying revolution! No more sneaking away into supply closets, no more packing concealer “just in case,” no more quick-fix-tricks involving cold spoons and Vaseline. If you worked hard on a project and it goes belly up, you’re allowed to sit down and let the tears flow, whether it’s at your desk or at a party. If you’re having an argument with your friend and you feel hurt, it’s okay if your eyes water up.
By being true to your emotions, you can be honest with other people and with yourself. If you accept that your feelings are valid—which they are!—you’ll become more confident in who you are and the things that make you happy. So by that logic, crying is just a gateway to feeling good again. No shame in that.