The Misery and the Ecstasy of the Ugly Cry

 

To have an excellent cry brings mild catharsis, approximately I`ve been informed. The unburdening of tears is supposed to launch pain s leaden pressure, to clean our wounds. And yet crying the beginning, the event, and its consequences has actually been for me a barbed relief at finest, and frequently a panic-stricken requirement. It is an act that needs to be furtively hidden, the proof eliminated.

Headlines litter the web to the tune of how to sob in public; vaguely distressed inquiries check out: Is it ever ok to weep at work? While an unsubtle tear might compromise a woman`s professionalism, the fault line runs deeper. To put it simply: it can render her unsightly.

Over the last couple of years, we`ve integrated the term ugly cry into typical parlance, and, while doing so, concerned rely on it significantly. The principle is straightforward enough: Acceptable as either verb or noun, to unsightly cry suggests weeping so fervidly that a person s face contorts in seemingly unappealing methods. An awful cry summons expressions that render us strange to ourselves and to others, mainly because we`ve relinquished our bodies to wild, emotive energy. We cease to absorb, to self-curate, and our face mutates into social illegibility.

As a colloquialism, we can trace the awful cry s origins to cultural arbiter Oprah Winfrey, who has regularly utilized the term to explain her and her weepier talk-show visitors since at least the year 2000. Fulfilling Mary Tyler Moore was, according to Oprah, so affecting that she dissolved into the ugly cry. The ugly cry occurs when you’re trying not to cry, she once stated when asked to specify it.

In the last decade, references to ugly sobbing have trickled from daytime television into American English. Urban Dictionary includes entries dating from 2007, but over the last couple of years the concept has actually spread out at a tremendously more regular clip. In February, Perez Hilton scraped up 17 Times Kim Kardashian Was In Major Ugly Cry-Face Mode, and sites like MTV curate catharsis-focused lists like 5 Heartbreaking Songs To Listen To When You Need A Good Ugly Cry.

Many of us at some time or another long for the liberty of a good cry. We likewise comprehend that a good cry is one that occurs where others will not be subjected to its results. If that will be impossible, well, possibly it`s time to research how to cry prettily.For as often as we find enjoyment in Claire Danes s notoriously unbecoming if theatrical cry faces or circulate the meme-ified image of Chrissy Teigen awful sobbing at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards, many of us would be mortified if we were physically scrutinized at our most vulnerable. An ugly cry, more than simply being stunning or repellant, communicates our undoing.

When we bashfully confess to ugly crying over a film or dissatisfaction, we suggest that we cannot be beautiful when we give way to our most keenly uncomfortable emotions. In some cases the really idea of the awful cry seems, more than anything else, an inside joke: What woman has not been schooled in the doctrine of Western patriarchal requirements of beauty?

Symptoms of a woman`s severe distress were a lot more disruptive to Western society in centuries past. In Victorian England especially, society was overtly bought handling women`s embodied reactions, specifically those that appeared to transport women beyond the restrictions of male-sanctioned decorum. Nineteenth-century physicians counted on the term hysteria as a means of medicalizing female habits and desires that went beyond precise definition and, thus, social control.

Therefore, just as the unsightly cry was produced by our worry of unrestrained emotion, hysteria, too, was understood as a condition born from excess. Literary critic Andrew Mangham explains that the Victorian principle of hysteria was greatly affected by the age`s psychiatric engagements with the concept of immoderation. Once emotions went beyond an ambiguous limit of normalcy, they metastasized into pathology. All signs of hysteria have their prototype in those important actions by which grief, horror, dissatisfaction, and other agonizing emotions and loves appear under ordinary scenarios, nineteenth-century physician Julius Althaus reasoned, and which become indications of hysteria as soon as they achieve a specific degree of strength (focus mine). The signs differed, though Althaus narrated them as a sensation of tightness in the epigastrium, oppression on the chest, and palpitations of the heart; a lump appears to rise in her throat and gives a feeling of suffocation; she loses the power over her legs, so that she is for the moment not able to move; and she calls the hands in a spasmodic way.

Female distress was only palatable in its most submissive and delicate variations. In the unique Middlemarch, George Eliot depicts an impulsive and ill-conceived engagement between pampered beauty Rosamond Vincy and the doctor Tertius Lydgate a love motivated by the allure of Rosamond`s tears:.... As he raised his eyes now he saw a specific powerless quivering which touched him rather recently, and made him take a look at Rosamond with a questioning flash. At this minute she was as natural as she had ever been when she was 5 years old: she felt that her tears had increased, and it was no use to try to do anything else than let them remain like water on a blue flower or let them tip over her cheeks, even as they would.

That moment of naturalness was the crystallizing feather-touch: it shook flirtation into love.Naturalness, as perceived by Lydate ironically a physician himself takes shape here in the erotic appeal of a comely young woman s tearful vulnerability. One can envision his response had Rosamond s dainty sniffles heightened into full-bodied weeping (though maybe his repulsion might have conserved the pair a world of suffering).

Eliot`s narrative recommends that fetishizing women`s tears can be dangerous, but we`ve seen that fantasy echoed across literature and popular culture. When, in 1990, Julia Roberts weeps at the opera in the appropriately titled Pretty Woman, she glistens gently, a John Singer Sargent painting made flesh. Songstress Lana Del Rey has made her identity as a wry acknowledgment of eroticized melancholy: I m pretty when I weep, she breathes on her sluggish 2014 album Ultra violence.These counterpoints to the ugly cry are as sexy as they are constricting. Ugly cry, after all, is a term utilized predominately by and for women. No wonder the unsightly cry is fascinating in its own way: It delivers us from the stranglehold of standard beauty, asks absolutely nothing but that we face our discomfort.

To cry in this manner strongly, heartily, vulgarly exposes vulnerability at the same time that it conveys physical could and nerve. Our bodies can speak for themselves, states the ugly cry. Women do not exist merely through representation; we are neither watercolor nor clay. For every single time I have moved annoyingly as Claire Danes dissolves into tears, I`ve discovered within myself a surge of vicarious pride. I recognize myself and my agitation in understanding that my own well of emotion is at times too powerful and charged for even me to grasp. The hysterical woman`s power for power she does possess lies in her refusal to cry inside the lines, and from her termination of a westernized psychological teaching that condemns passion as excess. She is the woman who takes her vibrator to bed not as a Victorian solution for tempestuous sensation but to yell louder, to stay in the frisson of sensory commotion. She knows what I have a hard time to accept: that those who would call us ugly for being too freely psychological had much better observe our weeps and shiver.

 

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