musings on crying

From the childhood stories I’ve heard my parents tell again and again (sometimes I wonder if they miss me being a baby), I’ve known forever that as a baby, I hardly ever cried. This strange tendency developed into my pre-teen years as well, allowing me only to cry when a family member is sick or when I read that one scene of The Book Thief.

If you’d been following this blog for some time, you’d know that I started studying in the States at age fifteen, leaving my whole family and country behind. It was then also, when I started crying.

The simplest things would bring tears to my eyes: movie soundtracks, movies, ads, puppy ads with the song Angel in the background, books other than The Book Thief, a phrase my friend said, thinking, writing, etc. Because I was fifteen, it was hard to decipher whether the reason behind this was my teenage hormones (curse those things) or that I had somehow become more sentimental (I say this in not a condescending way, as sentimentality is often portrayed in our day-to-day jargon). Maybe it’s nether, more likely it’s both. Whatever the reason, the truth still stands true: that I am able to cry buckets every time Harry stands in front of the Mirror of Erised for the first time.

If we get into the nitty-bitty parts of it, crying is probably something chemically happening inside your brain that allows the [insert technical term] glands to water. If we get scientific about the matter (forget sentimentality), we’ll probably dig up some highly specific reason as to why humans cry.

(Random thought: I also sometimes wonder whether the reason I liked science all those years ago was because I romanticized it, and in romanticizing it created something that I really loved – poetry.)

I just went on a quick detour to discover why we cry (the scientific reason) and the only thing I took in was something about different types of tears. If you’re still here reading this blog and wondering why (scientifically) we cry, I can promise that I will not (and probably won’t for a long time) have an answer. The other thing was this gem: “Of course, women are definitely better at [crying] than men.”

Ads like the puppy one make me wonder to what extent the conditions we have been brought up in “manipulates” (for lack of a better word) us into shedding a few tears. Now, I know that the puppies in the ad aren’t really smiling or sad (forgive me, certain dog-lovers), but just doing what they do, lolling their tongues out and giving us those huge, watery, puppy-dog eyes. Would a child, raised in complete isolation from our societies be susceptible to tearing up from such an ad?

Another example of this conditioned crying is the gem I’ve pulled from the article. Yes, men do cry less than women, but to what extent of the reason, as one of my annoying family members put it, is that women are innately more emotional? Toxic masculinity has taught our boys lingo like “stop crying like a girl”, both stunting their ability to let loose emotion and drilled the belief that girls are inherently weaker into their heads at an early age. These are not new thoughts by any means, but just random ones that I’ve been thinking about.

The idea of crying seems to call for a reassertion and reassessment of gender and traditional gender norms. We perform our identity every day, putting on a show to the extent that a teenage girl doesn’t know whether she is too sentimental to be crying at dog ads.

(If any of y’all are interested in the ad that I keep talking about, click here.)

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