Outfit Post: Dressing rooms, crying, and why I'm over it.

I'm not big on crying in public. Don't misunderstand -  I am perfectly comfortable with expressing emotion. I just prefer to save my crying jags for the privacy of my own home. I occasionally tear up while listening to a heart-wrenching song on the radio, or after watching a sentimental television commercial, or during an affectionate moment with one of my children. I've cried while on the phone with a family member, and am quickly reduced to tears after an argument with my husband. And sometimes I cry for no reason at all. I've experienced those hysterical silent sobs where you can't catch your breathe and are gasping for air while your chest heaves and OH MY GOD I THINK I'M GOING TO DIE, LIKE LITERALLY DIE.  I am a lifetime member of the heart-on-sleeve club, and have learned to accept my propensity for tears.

While I consider public crying a no-no, tearing up in dressing rooms is another story. Off the top of my head, I can rattle off six times I've cried in a dressing room:
  • Two weeks ago: Goodwill, Dallas location. J Crew silk babydoll dress. Tag clearly said it was a size zero, but I believed this to be false as the dress had an empire waist, appeared roomy, and J Crew has a propensity towards vanity sizing. Alas, it was accurate. I became a little tearful both in the dressing room AND in my car on the way home.
  • Twenty-five years ago: Bloomingdale's lingerie department. My mother had taken me for my first bra fitting. I stood in the dressing room, quaking with fear and trembling with cold (why are dressing rooms always freezing? Are we meant to lose feeling in our extremities when trying on clothes?) Saleswoman emerges with four innocuous-looking training bras. All of which are too small. Saleswoman's reaction: "Hmmm, I'm usually great at judging sizes. But you're much...larger than other girls your age." My mom sighed indifferently while tears rolled down my cheeks.
  • Thirteen years ago: Macy's bridal salon. Combed through the racks and found a lace ballgown with a sweetheart neckline, simple crepe bodice, and buttons down the back. Knew immediately after trying it on that it was the dress I was meant to have, and openly wept in my plush virginal-white dressing room. (The bridal attendant calmly handed me a box of Kleenex and went onto the next bride. Apparently this sort of thing happens all the time.)
  • Twenty-one months ago, fresh home from a month-long inpatient hospital stay for anorexia, I made the foolish mistake of trying on clothes that swam on me before entering treatment. But this time, everything was too tight. I locked myself in the bathroom for an hour sobbing and gave serious thought to suicide.
  • Six weeks ago, Salvation Army, Plano location. Went thrifting with an extremely petite, younger friend. Pulled on a pair of high-waist vintage denim shorts that were exactly like the pair she looked adorable in. The effect was not the same on me.
  • Eleven years ago, Motherhood Maternity. Am nine months pregnant, swollen to the point where my only options in footwear are flip-flops, and am shopping for a formal maternity dress. Self explanatory.

Oh, the complexities of being a woman. If we're not thinking about clothes, or buying clothes, or thinking about clothes we want to buy, or trying on clothes, or wishing we fit into our old clothes, we might be crying. Crying because our ex-boyfriend is dating our former best friend; crying because got a bad grade on a paper; crying because we skipped a workout and feel badly about ourselves; crying because we're watching the Notebook and who doesn't cry while watching the Notebook; or crying because those adorable shoes at Anthropologie have not gone on sale yet and WTF Anthropologie???

Women cry, on average, four times as often as men - according to University of Minnesota neurologist William Frey, an average of 5.3 times per month, compared with 1.4 times for men. This isn't just a function of cultural training. Women actually produce far more prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production that also controls the neurotransmitter receptors in our tear glands. Women’s tear ducts are also anatomically different from male tear ducts, resulting in a larger volume of tears. A propensity to cry is, in part, biologically driven.

I'm hopeful that my days of crying in dressing rooms are on the wane. As I become more accepting of my body, I realize that there are silhouettes that just aren't going to work for me, and that's okay. I will never be a size zero, and that's fine as well. From now on, I'll save the tears for sappy movies and sad songs and heart-tugging moments with my kids. I may occasionally cry at the airport, or the cash register. But crying in a dressing room? Over it.

Have you ever cried in a dressing room? What caused it? Can you remember other times that you've cried in public? Do you consider yourself a crier, or are you more inclined to choking back tears and holding things in?

Target tanks; thrifted vintage skirts; Gap sandals; Forever 21 necklaces; Charming Charlie bracelets; Michael Kors rose gold watch

Like this look? Find similar pieces here here, here, here, here, here, and here.


  1. AMAZING post Elise!! I appreciate your honesty so much. I have never cried in a dressing room that I can remember, but I have been on the brink of tears in the dressing room, when shopping for bottoms (these hips are something I tell ya lol). I am not much of a crier (a good sappy movie may bring a tear to my eye), though I seem to have become more of a crier in the last year. Nonetheless, I do cry after or during heated arguments with my boyfriend (and it makes me so mad that I can hold it in anytime but when we argue, lol).

    I loved this post and your skirt, and wish you the best on putting an end to the dressing room cries!

  2. Yes! to the having cried in a dressing room. I am a recovered (always recovering?)EDO woman who had more than a couple dressing room breakdowns over clothing sizes in my 20's. Tossing of garments, wailing, etc. Now, only little sniffles about, like yours, the perfect vintage piece that just won't fit.

    A wonderful post, as always, Elissa. Love the summery long skirt too - it's one of the best hot-day outfits, isn't it?

  3. I cry in the car a lot. This isn't really that safe. At least you weren't operating machinery during those public cry-times.
    Still, I think all of these examples seem totally reasonable cry-worthy moments. Of course, I have a therapy appointment in a few hours...

    LOVE the way you look in white, btw.

  4. This color is so beautiful on you! I love love love this look.

    And no, I can honestly say I've never cried in the dressing room, however, I have been witness to my sister crying in the dressing room an immeasurable amount of time. (Even though she has a perfect body and looks fabulous in everything!)

    Stacey Kay
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  5. You are looking pretty and your post was a very good read :)
    I must admit that I have not cried in a dressing room - and if I have I have no recollection whatsoever.
    Last time I cried in public was 3 months ago for my MIL's funeral.

  6. I'm not much of a dressing room crier -- I usually hold it together until I get to the car or home. Biggest culprits are jeans. I want to have a perfect, hipless body but Mother Nature has dictated otherwise and I've spent years hating my curvy bottom half. Which is kind of ridiculous, but oh well.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Yes, I've cried in a dressing room or two - usually from frustration or self-loathing. Been a long time though, so hoping those days are behind me. Wouldn't mind a happy cry in a wedding dress after I find Mr. Right. ;)

  8. I totally melted down years ago when I went back to buy the vintage gown I was determined to squeeze myself into for my wedding,,,only to find it had been sold. Serious waterworks, to the point where some kind soul sat me down and gave me something to eat! Then I went home, took a deep breath and copied that dress and made it not only in my size but Better than the original!

  9. Interesting topic. This very thing came up in a conversation with my husband several nights ago. He claimed that women could cry their way out of a traffic ticket and that it always worked. I dryly told him that I cry when I have been pulled over...because I feel "bad", but not in order to evade the ticket.

  10. You look fabulous in the skirt and tank.
    I never cry in dressing rooms. I wear my heart on my sleeve too. I cried through my entire wedding ceremony.

  11. I just read that entire essay, its a strange but interesting topic and I'm glad I did read it. Your blog is so uplifting and I'm glad I'm not alone with the whole tears thing. I'm the biggest wuss you'll ever meet, and quite frankly, i hate it!
    Definitely following and looking forward to your next post!

  12. How beautiful and honest -- thank you for this. I remember a particularly bad dressing room day from when I was a teenager, when my sister and I, in the same dressing room, both burst into tears while trying on blue jeans. She had returned a few weeks earlier from her own anorexia inpatient treatment and I was in the process of losing weight. Neither of us could stand the sight of ourselves in the mirror and each wished to be the other for a moment. It was horrible, then, but I look back now and realize that we were both on the road to true recovery and the sudden realization that no one, even your seemingly perfect sister, is happy with herself was a huge step down that road.

  13. I'm a new follower by way of Already Pretty and am in love with you already:). Awesome writing dear!! I haven't done the dressing room cry, but have thrown everything to the floor and did the cry in my car as I drove home purchase-less. Or worse, after my husband commented about how tight an article of clothes looked on me. Then I got sullen, angry, got the snubs (you know that awful kind of cry) and blamed him for my awful feelings before figuring out he wasn't to blame at all. Ugh. Sometimes being a girl is just hard.

  14. No, I haven't cried in a dressing room but after I had my son I weighed the most I have ever weighed in my life. For about 2 years I hated clothes shopping and avoided it at all costs. I am an emo girl though. Marley and Me sent me into an epic cry session that left my eyes swollen shut! I just want to say though, you are a great writer and so witty, funny and honest. I am sad to read of your struggles with anorexia. I have battled with it a bit myself. Why do we do this to ourselves? Ugh. I am in a good place now though and I know I will never be a size zero either. I am totally ok with that now. I kinda love myself these days. You look amazing btw and I love how you thrift! Such an inspiration! Have a great day!

  15. I am not one who cries often, but I'll admit that I've been close in dressing rooms before - especially if there's bad lighting! I'm pale enough as it is.

    So happy to hear that you're accepting yourself and your appearance. That's something that I definitely need to work on more.

  16. Love this: "The bridal attendant calmly handed me a box of Kleenex and went onto the next bride."

    Guess what? I've never seen The Notebook!

  17. AHHHH, I have SO missed your writing!! It's good to be back! REALLY good!

    yes, I've cried in a dressing room. It was after experiencing some {much needed} weight gain. I'm over crying in dressing rooms as well!!

    Ugh, I just really love your blog!! LOVE IT! Thanks for being you!

  18. What a great post! I found your blog via Already Pretty, and unlike most women I know, I usually cry only about twice a *year* or so.

    Today was one of those very days. My landlord remarked that I was "husky" (what an awful word in the first place - I wouldn't have minded "curvy") and I was on my way to run some errands. I started tearing up in the car right away. I've always had body image problems, but at my current size (10/12) I never thought of myself as husky. It really hurt.

    Life is hard enough as it is, and I wish other people would take the time to say something uplifting and positive instead of negative stuff.

    I'm sorry to hear about your struggles with anorexia...I'm sure that trying on those old clothes was a real trigger!

  19. you look beautiful, and thank you for the thought-provoking post. I realized that I haven't been moved to tears (always held them back) in a dressing room since I stopped shopping with my mother. Hmm. We always knew how to push one another's buttons. I miss her a lot of the time, but not when I'm shopping.

  20. This was a really well written thought provoking post, I enjoyed reading it. I haven't cried in dressing rooms (yet) but I have gotten very, very frustrated. I've learned what stores tend to work for me/my body type and just avoid the ones that make me feel crappy for not fitting into their clothes.

    Love the baby yellow skirt, it's very pretty :)

  21. ~ * ♥ * ~

    I love your posts Elissa, and this one is no exception! I marvel at how you mange to find so many great, thought provoking topics. *is slightly jealous* : )

    I am a crier ~ I have been ever since I was a little girl. I have never cried in dressing rooms, but movies and books! Movies are the worst though, 'coz they are public too, not just private. It doesn't matter if the theater is packed, if the movie is sad I will cry. {Even if it's a kids movie like The Lion King... =___=;}

    The most embarrassing time I ever cried through a movie would have to be watch Forrest Gump with my year 12 youth group. Gah! So mortifying; I was so scared they would notice...

    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

  22. So, I know I'm new to your blog, but my god, you're a good writer! This is heart breaking and sweet and clever and, best of all, it really strikes a chord. I often pass over longer blog posts for lack of time, but the ones I've read from you grab me in the first sentence and don't let go. You just get it, Elissa!

  23. You are beautiful, talented and wonderful. Thank you for this post.

    - Tessa

  24. Great post. I am a definite crier, but usually skip the dressing room crying and hold it together until I am in the car. Once I started to really know my body and my actual size it all became a lot easier though.

  25. I'm new to your blog, but I can tell you when I last cried: Reading this post! I loved how candid and honest you are. It was an absolute inspiring and touching read.

    Thank you for sharing.

  26. I don't cry in dressing rooms. I get mad. You know kids that throw tantrums? That's me. Only I'm 28 years old and I should know better. But only if I'm inside the dressing room, outside of it: indifference is my friend.

    But in the end I'm mad at myself for not working out for the third month in a row. Then I think I had to have that steak (and two glasses of wine) the other night and that I love food a little more than I love clothes. So I go out for a burger and vow to work out the next day. Then all is well in the world again...

    Great post!

  27. You're amazing. Such an excellent post. So touching. I've teared up in dressing rooms and after leaving the store and going home purchase-less. We women are so tough on ourselves. Thank you for an excellent blog.

  28. Gawsh, your writing sparkles and it's so honest and vulnerable and dense with emotion so good.

    Yes, I have cried in the dressing room, I used to be a dancer and had a teeny tiny body all thru college and after dancing I put on weight and criiiied when I went to buy clothes for my new body. I love your vow to save the tears for more worthy things, I'm going to try to make that same promise to myself.


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