Bloody Secrets Of The Women’s Restroom (It’s Not What You’re Thinking)

By Molly Braswell

Let's be real.

The girl next to us in the bathroom stall suddenly becomes our best friend, whether we want it to happen or not.

It's like you're at your favorite bar, gargling your favorite cocktail, and you excuse yourself to the restroom. You enter the doors of the tiled palace, and you can just feel the unadorned support of womanhood lingering in the air. You wash your hands, and as you reach for the soap dispenser, the girl sporting a chic beret next to you exclaims, "Oh, my god, girl! I love your highlights!"

This spurs a friendly conversation, at the end of which you both thank each other for such spontaneous flattery and return to your respective cocktails - and once again, you're each harnessed to the competitive, gridlocked nature of the women's world.

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I'm sure this is an acknowledged phenomenon, and sincerely, I do think it's hilarious - sardonic, even. It could be the fact that we let our guard down when toilets are around - or, there might be something deeper at stake. Like, the fact that the women's restroom offers a sanctity from the outside world of dating, men, and female rivalry.

In fact, I think if there were anyone I’d be happy to be stuck in a bathroom with, it would be Chrissy Mentz, whose openness about her weight struggles and image issues has garnered the attention (and relief) from many viewers of This is Us. I’m encouraged to see that we’re headed in the right direction when it comes to helping women of all shapes and sizes feel more validated.

But we can't stop there.

In a universe that has chronically judged women for waist size, appearance, and generally superficial attributes - it's our duty to become united under that shared scrutiny. I love mascara and Burt's Bees as much as the next person, but we all end up with the same naked face at the end of the day, and we all have the same naked internal struggles.

The inspiration for this thought process stemmed directly from an episode of Chelsea Lately, featuring an interview with Emmy Rossum (Shameless, anyone?). Rossum was relating the insatiable need for women and all other groups who might have felt the crushing blow by Trump's presidency to come together. Chelsea dryly throws out (in reference to Melania’s campaign as First Lady), "Well, Melania Trump's on it, don't worry."

Emmy embraced the opportunity to offer her take: "She's speaking to a lot of people, too, that believe in what she says, and we have to understand that and I think listening is very, very important, too."

I mean, can we give a round of applause for that kind of composure? Or snaps, whichever you prefer. In my humble opinion, Emmy was making an empowering statement of her fellow woman, despite her own past traumas. It takes courage to uplift another being, especially from a place of justified anger or hurt. To echo the compassionate Michelle Obama, "When they go low, we go high."

And then there are some people who make a practice of uplifting the souls around them on a regular basis, in an Oprah Winfrey  kind of way. That’s what my friend Britteni did for me. Not only had she captured the attention of major news headlines after shaving her head in support of a friend undergoing chemo (this is the article if you're interested), but she  also collected friendships in all sorts of places, teaching us how to think outside of our own perspectives and watched carefully to spotlight the unique gifts we each possessed. Her Instagram posts usually displays the hashtag #WomenSupportingWomen as a little reminder. My hope is that everyone gets to have their own Britteni.

Agreeably, we all have striking differences that can be problematic, whether in the workplace or in daily life. But, for once second, imagine the stripping away of ideology, looks, or background.  We are left with each other, standing in a circle, being forced to reckon with the one, most resonant thing we have in common: we are beautiful wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and transgenders. I, for one, love making friends. Let's take the sisterhood with us, wherever we go. See you beyond the bathroom walls, honey!