Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

In Praise of Drunk Girls in Bar Bathrooms

Girl in bathroom draws a lipstick heart on the mirror Photo: Linda Alfvegren/Trunk Archive

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

“Your hair,” proclaimed the drunk girl in the bar bathroom, “is PERFECT.”

“Thanks!” I replied.

“No,” she went on, “like, the color, the style... it’s just PERFECT.”

“Thanks!” I said again, because what else do you say to a stranger? I finished washing my hands and floated back to my seat, but not before sneaking another look at my hair in the bathroom mirror. A far cry from perfect, but she did have a point — I’d washed it (for once) and curled it (with this guy) and it actually looked pretty good.

Nobody on the planet will make you feel as dope as a fellow woman, three glasses of wine deep, with whom you are sharing a sink trough. Her compliments are effusive yet genuine; her glowing assessments of your shirt or shoes or face are enough to buoy you for an entire night out. Sometimes she offers slurred words of advice — “You would look AMAZING with short hair!” — but it’s rarely judgmental. Sometimes she wants to know your name, or wants you to know hers, and other times she’s content to let you pass through her betoileted lair without need for such pedestrian exchanges. Whatever she says, it is always in all caps.

The mysterious, jubilant kindness of drunk girls is well-documented. It can feel like these women only exist within the confines of semi-public bathrooms, materializing when you need a boost, showering you with earnest words, and disappearing from whence they came like cheerful drunk Moaning Myrtles. They have no context and no agenda. They expect nothing in return, like the human equivalent of tagging your friend in the comments of a funny Instagram; reciprocity, the default response to so many other flavors of compliments, is beside the point.

Instead, the drunk girl acts as a confirmation that despite all evidence to the contrary, you’re doing okay. You’re cute, you’re friendly, you’re worthy of attention, and not just in the eyes of the people who are obligated to love you already. If a total stranger (wasted as she may be) can observe it, it must be true; she forces you to see yourself as you’d like to be seen in your most secret heart.

And so you can never repay the drunk girl. All you can do is go about your night with a little extra spring in your step, knowing that no matter what the world throws at you — bad dates or breakups, acne or IBS — in some bathroom, somewhere, lurks someone who thinks you are the most beautiful person she’s ever seen in her life, or at least in the past four minutes. And maybe one night you’ll find yourself at the other end of the sink, gin and tonic in hand, yelling delightedly to someone you don’t know about how lovely her shoes are, how sharply winged her eyeliner, how truly rad her crop top. Be the drunk girl in the bar bathroom you wish to see in the world.