the sky is wicked huge. she realized that the restroom was crowded with other people. She suddenly collected herself and with a silky clearing of her throat, and became upright and neutral. Her finely manicured nails brushed through her frizzy untamable hair as flashes of fire-engine red distracted my eye. She took her place in line and floated through with strange grace. The younger business woman in front of her stood impatiently, tapping her winter stiletto boots and popping the bubbles in her Bazooka Bubble Gum. She discretely adjusted her shirt collar to ensure protection from unacceptable perceptions. My observations of the behavior of these two women, and their striking similarities to the other women in line demonstrated the effect of societal influence inciting selfawareness, which is often a large contributor to the heightening of insecurity in public restrooms. Soci-
explore ety’s unwelcomed presence in restrooms greatly affects the actions of patrons who become incredibly influenced by other’s behavior, therefore greatly differentiating the use of public restrooms from private ones. I searched for a poster or sign of some kind listing the rules of the bathroom, but to no avail. What were these unnamed rules that everyone had been following? I watched each woman use the same amount of liquid soap, and run the water for the same amount of time. What had caused all of us to become restroom robots? As I became increasingly nervous for my turn to use the restroom, I began to find my answer. More than ever, I was aware of society’s presence, and this quickly influenced me to assimilate to restroom culture. I had not yet realized the purpose of my anxiety for the restroom that
day. I felt afraid to lose something, but that something was still hidden in my subconscious. I continued to watch for answers. Then, I began to notice the women’s avoidance of the mirror. When faced with their own reflection, these women became highly aware of their vulnerability in admitting to a flaw or imperfection—which they might have considered a personal weakness. These observations of our interaction and experience in public restrooms illuminate the significance of public influence and revealed its threat to our individual power. This is what everyone was afraid of! The presence of public influence’s threat to power can also instigate alternative behavior. This restroom on the Boston Commons was sometimes utilized as a woman’s opportunity to flaunt her superior power over others who feel vulnerable in their insecurities. I watched
Magazine project for Emerson College's WR121 Writing for Civic Engagement class, Spring '10.