Tag Archives: Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary Legend

Text: Okay, so in my elementary school in the bathroom, if you went in Bloody Mary was supposedly on the wall, like if you stared at a certain spot. And so people got really scared and didn’t want to go to the bathroom. I guess you stared for a certain, I don’t remember, like a number of seconds and a certain tile. It was like a tiled wall. So then all of a sudden you were supposed to see it.


Informant is a freshman at USC studying Themed Entertainment. She recounts her experience in the cafeteria while drinking a cup of coffee and snacking on some hash browns. She is slightly fidgeting and scatter-brained during the conversation.

“The elementary school I grew up in was in Redlands, CA. I learned about the Bloody Mary thing from just people talking about it. I feel like I wasn’t really convinced, but I had a friend that was so scared that I guess I got a little scared because she’d never go to the bathroom alone. She’d be like you have to go to the bathroom with me. And I was like, Okay. I felt kind of silly, to be honest, because I didn’t see anything when they made you look. So I was kind of just like this is weird. I’m pretty sure it didn’t start in our elementary school. I haven’t researched it, but it just came from somewhere else.”

Analysis: This folk narrative is an example of legend, a story in our world that might be true. This Bloody Mary Legend confronts people with what they believe. Even if some do not fully believe like the informant, they can still participate in the legend because of the aesthetic to belief. This legend was prevalent with young kids because children are high on the continuum context or more likely to believe than others. There is also a sort of legend quest involved with this legend because a ritual must be practiced in order to discover the legend. However, because the legend quest comes with a risk of being endangered, the legend is still able to be proved or disproved.

The Girls Bathroom, Home of Bloody Mary


“So when I was in 1st grade I hung out with this group of girls, and the main, like, ring leader girl always told us that um, that Bloody Mary lived in the girls bathroom and it was like a ghost that would put bloody hand prints on the wall and you could like summon her or whatever, and there was like these hand prints, they were probably just mud or whatever or paint or something but they like looked like dried blood like against the wall near the bathroom walls of one of the nearby buildings so everyone was like OMG bloody mary lives there and the ring leader girl was like OK so like why don’t we go in there and try some bloody Mary stuff. We’re like OK why not, so it’s during school hours it’s like lunch or something lunch recess we go in there and so we go in there right and I remember there being like twine on the floor like random pieces of like twine or sticks, I don’t know, but like for some reason we danced around them but I don’t think we put them there, I don’t know, but we all held hands and we danced in a circle and she said if we say bloody Mary three times like she’ll be here like OK so we do that and then we all get super scared once we’re done chanting. I mean nothing happens but once we’re done chanting we’re like Oh my gosh and we all run out of the bathroom right, so I’m pretty much last out of the bathroom and I run out the door and I’m stuck on something like caught on the door and the thing with the door is it’s a push door so it doesn’t have handles. It doesn’t have like a knob just kind of like push either way um and I’m totally, yeah, stuck on the door there’s someone like holding me, it felt like someone was holding me just for a split second there. Then I, you know, I could go and then I ran and I was scared and whatever but it’s like I was like held there for a second and I was like well I wasn’t caught or anything because there’s no knob on the door to like catch me so I don’t know maybe the spirits were mad at me and they’re holding me but yeah”


V is a 19 year old student from Orinda, CA, and she told me a story from when she was in elementary school. She believes in ghosts and spirits and explained that she always has believed in them. She believes in them because she says she “has no reason not to” and has had various experiences like that or known people who have experienced similar things with the supernatural.


While V says that she believes in ghosts and spirits, and pretty much always has, I think this is in part due to having experiences like these starting from an early age. Childhood is a huge part of developing beliefs in one’s life, and especially if they experience things themselves rather than just hearing about them. I think that this story/experience of the supernatural has had an impact on V’s belief in ghosts and spirits, as she does believe that some force was holding her there in that bathroom. I also think that Bloody Mary is an interesting gateway into believing in ghosts, as many young women, or just young people in general have been told the story of Bloody Mary at some point in their life. What I find most interesting, however, is that her story is extremely similar to one of my own. While I didn’t experience anything actually happening with a spirit, it was a common belief in my elementary school that one of the girls bathrooms was haunted by Bloody Mary, and for that reason girls were afraid to use that bathroom. I find it interesting as I grew up in Virginia, without internet or a way to have heard of it from across the globe, yet at the same time in California, other girls were having the same experience.

Bloody Mary

Text: “I don’t know, I think I was like eight or something and my brothers and sisters are older than me so they would try to scare me and stuff–so my brother was like ‘oh, I dare you to do this,’ and as a kid that’s whatever. And so I went into the bathroom, and usually the whole thing is like ‘oh say Bloody Mary three times and it’ll pop up.’ I did it, nothing happened, and then I wasn’t as scared of it after that. I guess it’s just a legend.”

Context: My informant, KB, relayed this experience to me during allotted class time to share folklore. She explained that she heard the legend from her siblings when she was about eight years old, an era in which she was especially prone to being manipulated by her older siblings. It does not appear that she thought too deeply into the legend of Bloody Mary itself, but was instead more occupied with the pressure of the dare. She harbored more fear for Bloody Mary before her experience in the mirror, and walked away as less of a believer, perhaps initiating her transition from target audience to active bearer. 

Analysis: I interpret this legend of Bloody Mary as a test of courage for youth–until you work up the courage to face Bloody Mary in the mirror and find out that it is not real, you have not come of the age to actively bear the folklore and scare the next generation. Thus I view it as a rite of passage and bit of children’s folklore, passed down by older children to younger children in a practical joke format as a means of initiation (van Gennep). Within this scope, I believe my informant relayed a classic experience of youth in which she bore the burden of being a younger child in an older group and was forced to take a risk in order to obtain something the group desired, in this case knowledge. Ultimately, legends offer insights to how a certain group views the world–I see KB’s experience with this legend as an expression of her childhood, in which legends such as Bloody Mary can easily generate fear and are often forced upon the powerless or youngest in the group to explore. Her experience also connects to a child’s inexperience with the physical world, which could result in false beliefs about the feasibility of something like Bloody Mary being real. Further, paralleling Oring’s take on children’s folklore, the legend and its associated actions reflect the childhood urge to explore the forbidden, occult, or taboo, especially in rebellious sentiment. KB’s experience features this drive as well as the power dynamics of young children. 

Bloody Mary in the Bathroom – Legend


J is a screenwriting second-year at USC, raised in Canada but moved to American when J was 10 years old. The below text is a story told among the female students at J’s elementary school.


When J was in elementary school, there was a bathroom where people said that a girl had died in while she was a student in school who continued to haunt the bathroom because of how gruesome her death was without finding peace. Her spirit believed to be lingering there resulted in the creation of their own version of Bloody Mary. Students would say that “Bloody Mary lives in that bathroom.” They could tell because it was the very last stall and one of the pipes on the toilet had a splash of red paint on it, which students thought was blood. J themselves would go to the stall at the end of the day, and never got haunted by Bloody Mary. But, J was always on edge in the bathroom, where every little noise or motion may “summon” Bloody Mary, so J never did the “summoning” (saying Bloody Mary) to not chance the possibility of the ghost.


This narrative takes advantage of two legend themes: ghosts and Bloody Mary. Ghosts are an entity that lives on liminal boundaries: the line between life and death, human and non-human, and science and will power. The legend of a ghost forces the audience to question if one’s will truly is strong enough to overrule death, if a death with regret strong enough truly can provide haunting, or if there really is a line between life and death that is invisible to the living. Death itself is enigmatic and frightening for the living, so ghosts are a way people cope with it. For an audience as young as elementary students, ghosts not only become a way to deal with the permanence of death, but also a way to refuse grieving or accepting death, tying ghost narrative back to anti-hegemonic childhood folklore. So, the ghost itself as a literary object in a story subtly questions much of the real world’s ideas of death, maybe even denying them outright. Furthermore, because the legend is also about Bloody Mary, the story also becomes a coming-of-age for young girls. Bloody Mary serves the mark women’s menstrual cycle, a point at which blood comes out of the body, the girl is no longer chained to childhood and has to face harsh reality. Avoiding the bathroom stall avoids Bloody Mary, avoiding growing up as a young woman. An acknowledgement that Bloody Mary is not real (this childhood rumor is not real) marks a turning point in the young female world, that they have “risen above” childhood, gotten their period (marked by blood..Bloody Mary) and became women.

Loira do Banheiro/the Blonde in the Bathroom


SS: Loira do Banheiro, which is the Blonde in the Bathroom. There are a couple clips online to demonstrate what happened, people acting it out. Basically the story goes that there’s this blonde who went to public school, but she was pretty and kind and had all these nice characteristics, but she got bullied a lot: there were a bunch of people who gave her a hard time, who were rude to her, who didn’t treat her well. The story goes that she went to the bathroom, and that was especially where she got bullied. Something happened where she got in a fight, and the girls who were bullying her were like, pushing her around, and she hit her head. So she died in the bathroom. The idea is that she stays in the bathroom ready to haunt all the bullies and taunt them. So what happened is that my cousin and I tried it. It’s super similar to the American Bloody Mary: there are all these things you can do online. Go to the bathroom, like spin around three times, spin around three times, say her name three times. My cousin and I said every single one trying to summon her. But then as soon as we left, our aunts were like—I’m positive they were messing with us—but they said we saw her, that everything we did worked. And it’s a super popular story.

Loira do Banheiro

Transliteration: Loira → blonde / do → of / Banheiro → Bathroom

Translation: the Blonde in the Bathroom

Context: SS is my roommate and close friend, a recent graduate of USC who was born in Brazil but moved to the United States soon after. She frequently flies back with her parents and brother to visit her family in Brazil. She learned this particular legend from her cousins, not her parents, while she visited Brazil and decided to test it out.

Analysis: When I went to elementary school, we had our own version of Bloody Mary, which was activated by saying her name three times in our school restroom. Even in this analysis, I find myself wanting to make sure I don’t say her name too many times… obviously, it’s text, so the question is whether or not it would count, but I find myself not wanting to take too many chances. SS was the opposite, purposefully seeking her out in order to test the limits of the legend—a legend quest. The Internet definitely affected her perception. While she initially learned of the legend from her cousins, researching on the Internet became a large part of proving the ghost story’s validity. Her testing of the ghost story in this way could have only occurred in modern day—it veers into the realm of creepypasta and other online forums for ghost stories. The proliferation of information on this ghost story via the internet changed the way that future generations will interpret it. Knowing both Brazilian and American cultures gave her a unique perspective because she was able to recognize the similarities for herself, affecting the way she interpreted the legend’s validity.