We're Not "Emotional"; We're Human: 12 Women Recount Their Last Great Cry

Photo: Mango

For centuries, women have been chided for showing emotion—labeling the natural human response as evidence of overly sensitive or rash behavior. Over the years, our culture has used that same criticism to explain why women shouldn't hold high-powered positions or be taken seriously in any space outside the home. "Western culture has been fairly obsessed with rationalism, a philosophy that places a premium on reason over sensory and emotional experience," Heather Silvestri, Ph.D., a New York City–based psychologist told our wellness editor as she grappled with the validity of her own emotions.

Aside from the obvious sexist undertones of the "too emotional" debate, there is real, science-backed evidence that proves crying is not only a cathartic release but good for your health too. "Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration," says Judith Orloff, MD. "Protectively, they lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and they contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes. But emotional tears have special health benefits. "Biochemist and 'tear expert' William Frey, Ph.D., at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural painkiller and 'feel-good' hormones."

Crying is good for you. Allowing a space to live with and work through your emotions is always going to be helpful—both physically and mentally. To open up the floodgates, I reached out to a few women in the office (and our lovely readers, too) for the stories of their last great cry and how they felt after letting it all out. As Silvestri says, "Repressed emotion is like a beach ball held underwater: the further down you push it, the higher and more forcefully it's going to pop out into the air."