I’ll start this off with a disclaimer. The idea behind this article came from a semi drunken conversation with another girl I barely knew at a house party of a mutual friend. It was getting to that stage of the evening where one starts to disperse from the group one arrived with in favour of mingling, or ‘going on an adventure’. Usually it is in order to go for a smoke or to check out the talent. In this instance I was in the process of getting another drink and got talking to the aforementioned girl outside the bathroom. She was a person I knew vaguely, in a sort of ‘you have fifteen mutual friends on Facebook’ but had never actually spoken to. Anyway we start chatting, as you do, being polite, making a few jokes, and being very complementary of each other’s outfits, from the artistry of the eyeliner flick, to the choice of lip colour, to each of our fantastic pairs of shoes. My mother often remarked to me that women don’t dress up for men, they dress up to impress other women. While I always like to think we dress up to impress ourselves instead of trying to conform to others expectations (that’s a whole other issue) there is no shame in accepting or enjoying a compliment. To be honest it’s nice to get a compliment on the intricate eye makeup by someone who knows the painstaking process.
I get an inordinate amount of these interactions from women in bathrooms. It’s a peculiarly wonderful phenomenon. I like to point it out to other people when it happens. Whatever the psychology behind it, people are just nice in this instance. I’m sure all you ladies have experienced it at some point or another. Maybe it’s the female space that we usually spend at least a few minutes checking ourselves out in the mirror, the fact that girls go the bathroom in groups (and stop calling us out on that. Moaning Myrtle DIED when she went to the bathroom on her own). It could be influenced by the presence of alcohol. It very probably is. But for some reason I find I’m about ten times more likely to be complimented by some stranger in the queue for a loo on a night out. Some of my fondest memories of nights out are the random conversations in the bathrooms. Like my friends brothers 18th birthday party, I spent the better part of an hour giggling with a girl outside a stall- a girl I had not spoken to before or since, yet she and I had a beautiful 45 minutes together chatting about nothing as I tried to fix her really cute denim dress with a crap safety pin. It was a bonding experience that I will never forget.
Popular opinion would have you believe in the bitchiness of girls. I know because I really used to believe that. As a teenager most of my friends were male, and honestly, I thought that made me cooler. I wasn’t like those ‘other girls’. Those other girls who were so catty and mean and way too into their looks. I know now that that is complete bollocks. One of my dearest dreams is to go back and smack teenage me over the head. She had so much to learn.
Because here’s the thing. We’re actually not awful. And it’s the sheer level of kindness and camaraderie that we have the wonderful tendency to show each other when we’re queueing up to use the bathroom or just to make sure our makeup hasn’t smudged that has shown me that. The typical, almost insipid interaction of “I like your dress” or ‘your eyebrows are on point’. It’s this kind of simple solidarity, the kind that goes all but unnoticed. Of course now I hope you won’t be able to not see it now that I’ve brought your attention to it.
Which has kind of been my ulterior motive all along. I hope anyone reading this, will take notice of this kind of kindness we offer each other in this situation and then maybe, I don’t know, try it for themselves. Maybe not just in bathrooms when you’re a bit tipsy. Maybe we act like this to other girls in other situations. Act with as much inconsequential amicability as we do in bathrooms but more often. There has been a lot said already about female solidarity, I won’t go into it too much, but it’s important and it’s necessary. At least in this case, it’s not too difficult. And sometimes it’s enough to restore some of my worn out faith in humanity. It really is the little things.