The writing on the stall



by Joy Priest

Throughout history, the ‘writing on the wall’ has been an idiom that signifies failure or misfortune. However, for this generation, it represents a multitude of things.

Graffiti is often an expressive urban art form of wall paint and building decor applied by a rebellious youth faction seeking a release.

Bathroom stalls, as tenants of favorite nightlife hangouts, exhibit commentary on the hottest fraternity boy or playful depictions of the human anatomy.

Yet, something more profound now rests on the stall walls of the women’s lavatories in White Hall classroom building.

An anonymous graffiti artist with a message of inspiration and a green marker has altered a simplistic tradition of youthful humor.

On the first, second and third floors of White Hall, these simple green quotes can be found against the ugly off-yellow paint of the stall panels, giving them a little something extra.

With quotes like, “There’s still hope. There always is,” “Whatever the past has been, you have a spotless future,” and “Girl, you were born this way; perfect,” these “potty proverbs” are right in time for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

An associate professor of anthropology at UK specializing in gender, Monica Udvardy, Ph.D, feels that women in different cultures around the world throughout history have demonstrated solidarity and support for each other in similar ways.

“In societies where formal, public authority and influence is automatically awarded to men, women have united for one another in a variety of ways,” Udvardy said.

Not all of the encouraging adages are aimed at an audience lacking self-esteem. The free-spirits, The ambitious and even the revolutionaries may find the phrases relatable.

Udvardy spoke about the Bedouin people in northern Egypt, who use a public form of expression to speak their mind.

“Anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod has written about how women express their deep emotions through publically narrated poetry, in a society where both women and men are supposed to follow a strict code of otherwise not showing their feelings in public,” Udvardy said.

Bathroom poetry in White Hall classroom building with lines like, “No resolutions. Just change,” “It’s not easy but it’s worth it,” and “If they don’t believe make them believe,” are a few of the taggings that may inspire students to push open every door of every stall just to see what else is written there.

However, the White Hall classroom building janitors may not find anything inspirational, motivating or savior-esque about the vandalism that has commenced on their assigned cleaning areas; even if even if they recognize the good intentions behind the effort.

“Of course, there are the words of one of anthropology’s most famous members, Margaret Mead,” Udvardy said. “‘Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that has.’ Her inspirational message applies to all humanity, whether female or male.”