The ugly cry

What makes slow, salty tears turn into full-fledged sobbing? Sobbing that is so heavy your eyelids droop and you suddenly cannot breathe out of your nose? For some people, this type of cry comes at the end of every This is Us episode. For others, like me, it takes a very particular moment to elicit the ugly cry. I am looking at you season one, episode six of Years and Years. Oof. 

What qualifies as an ugly cry? In The Anatomy of the Ugly Cry Maggie Lange believes “ugly crying is 60 percent lips.” Body language expert Patti Wood says it is all about our facial muscles. In starter sadness, our lips curve downward and we may observe our eyebrows raise or our cheeks puff. During utter agony, multiple parts of our face go into combat mode. My own ugly cry involves cheekbones traveling upwards to my eyeballs, my mouth pulling at all four corners and my chin dimpling into a speckled mess of flesh. 

I used to be able to say that my ugly cries were few and far between. I would bawl when Rudy travels back to Joliet to show off a Notre Dame acceptance letter to his father. When My Girl Vada sobs, “He can’t see without his glasses” to a casket-lain Thomas J., I lost it. However, I was never the person who would whimper at a commercial or become emotionally attached to a reality show competitor's story.

Then a mixture of hormones and life hit resulting in a year that has seen more ugly cries than the previous 31 combined. I have become vulnerable and gooey. At first, I was disgusted with myself and the amount of tissues I was going through. Then, after some reflection and much needed girl talk, I came to terms with my ugly cry. It is both a chemical and social reaction. Letting out a good cry can be cathartic. If ugly cry meme celebrity Claire Daines can come to terms with her ugly cry, then you can too.

Are you in need of an ugly cry? With gratitude to my fellow Anythinkers and a few Internet lists, here are some guaranteed tear jerkers: 


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Bright Side by Kim Holden

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas



Steel Magnolias

Grave of the Fireflies


The Color Purple


Grey’s Anatomy

The Handmaid’s Tale

Bojack Horseman

Orange is the New Black

The Leftovers


What gets your ugly cry out? Let us know in the comments.



The two books that made me ugly cry were The Kite Runner and The Time Traveler's Wife. I couldn't stop.