Bloody Mary

“In fourth grade, everyone knew about Bloody Mary showing up in bathrooms, and there were these creepy bathrooms down a super long hallway. The area was really shaded so they were pretty dark. We always were scared to go alone because they were so creepy. One day we were playing with the lights and turned them off and yelled “Bloody Mary” four times and then turned the lights back on. We saw a shadow staring behind us in the mirror. It was so, so scary. So we all ran out screaming and never went back in those bathrooms again. We always used the bathroom on the other side of campus.”

Context: The informant went to school in St. Helena, California, twenty minutes from Napa. She is female, and grew up in a small, close-knit community.

Interpretation: The Bloody Mary ghost story has been interpreted as a symbol of womanhood and menstruation, and this is an excellent example of how Bloody Mary is utilized as such. While the informant did not see the correlation, her story was exclusively prepubescent girls in a female bathroom. By facing the terrifying bathroom and summoning Bloody Mary, the informant and her friends symbolically opened the portal to female adulthood. Perhaps their avoidance of the aforementioned bathroom could further be seen as the fruitless attempt to avoid womanhood once the process of puberty has started. After seeing Bloody Mary, the participants are uncomfortable and scared, but also more knowledgable. The same can be said when a woman receives her first period. Furthermore, there is an obvious tie between the ‘bloody’ part of Bloody Mary and the blood tied to menstruation. For another interpretation of Bloody Mary, see the 2006 horror film directed by Richard Valentine.