The Line at the Ladies’ Room

A photo exposé on exposing yourself.

Stereotypes creep into society’s psyche in dozens of ways.  Like rumors, we are never entirely sure how they come to be, but they spread like wildfire despite their validity (or lack thereof).  And while no one, not even women, can argue with the fact that the line at the ladies’ room always has been and always will be (except in extreme circumstances) longer than the line for the men’s room, the reasons may not be what men would assume.

Men tend to complain that women take forever in the restroom because they spend many wasted minutes primping their hair and reapplying their make-up.  But, if that were true, then how can one ever explain the line?  We are certainly not waiting half outside the door just for a space in front of the mirror.  And judging from the perspective of a woman who wears hardly any make-up and has the most low-maintenance haircut in history, I cannot explain why it would ever take me just as long to escape from the depths of germ central as those women slathered in face paint when I barely even cast a glance in the mirror as I exit.

No, gentleman.  Our narcissistic behaviors have no bearing on the lines.  Instead, we have no choice but to wait thanks to the general lack of restroom maintenance.  While men do not mind standing around with their business dangling for all to see, women prefer privacy.  It’s the craftsmanship of said stalls that keeps the ladies waiting for another.

Let’s take a little stroll through some of the most well-made public restrooms I’ve come across recently, shall we?

For our first example (above), we have a stall from Toys ‘R’ Us.  As you can see, the toilet paper dispenser hangs about two feet higher than the toilet.  While most adult women do not have gorilla arms, such design becomes even more laughable when you remember that this is a toy store – a place where children run amuck and occasionally need to use the bathroom.  Sure, a great deal of mothers would be right there to help their child through such a difficult time, but what’s the point of potty training if they still cannot go alone?  Luckily, someone was nice enough to leave a roll sitting on top of the sanitary napkin disposal for those who didn’t realize they weren’t Stretch Armstrong until after they sat down.

Our next example (above) will make you want to slap your forehead multiple times.  First, we see that the hook on this Panera Bread handicapped bathroom stall seems extremely high.  (If you cannot figure out my logic here, you are just as horrible as the genius who hung that hook in the first place.)  But once you turn to look at the toilet paper dispenser (below), you will realize that our mysterious handyman struck twice.

For those who don’t notice the distance before they go, reaching shall be quite the struggle.  And if you are indeed handicapped, such a struggle may very well leave you stuck.

The next, a stall in Best Buy (below), simply makes one wonder how anyone could possibly get in the stall and close the door.  You see, the door only opens until it collides with the toilet, but you cannot even squish to the side for the toilet paper dispenser is right there, big and in your way.  Even the smallest of women, (read: me), cannot squeeze in, leaving those even just slightly overweight to wait for the only handicapped stall.  (Helpful tip: put the toilet paper dispenser on the OTHER side of the toilet!)

And last, but certainly not least (because this is solely a sampling), we find the largest gap between stall walls one could probably find without forfeiting all privacy.  Located in Sears (below), you will notice that you can see my mother’s entire ear.  Unfortunately, that was also the only available stall because, as you can see in the upper right corner, the store used caution tape to block off the other stall.  And, if that gap doesn’t satisfy a Peeping Tom’s delight, there’s always the door’s lock to give you a sneak peek behind closed doors.

Disclaimer: To all the men that might be reading this, please do not get your panties in a twist.  I’m sure your bathrooms are nowhere near pristine condition, either.  However, I cannot gain access to the mens’ room (nor would I care to), so I cannot quite speak on your behalf.  My main goal is to simply draw some attention to the lack of thought that goes into designing many a ladies’ room and the repercussions of such shoddy work.  We do not like having an audience as we go about our business, and we’d like to keep it that way.  (Oh, and it’d be nice to reach the toilet paper and have somewhere to hang our purse, as well.)

Want more? Read ‘Learning in the Loo: The Line at the Ladies’ Room, Part Deux‘!

(Photos by Anna Papachristos.)

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