Valentine's Day is overrated and you can't change my mind
Updated: May 16, 2020
Consumerism. Single-use plastic. Annoying marketing tactics. Feelings of shame. Long wait times at overpriced restaurants.
Making one day a year the day you're supposed to show how much you love someone--with a paper card and a bundle of dying flowers.
These are the reasons that Valentine's Day has never been appealing to me. Yes, before you ask, I am definitely, 100% single and have been for a long time. Does that make me biased? Probably. But I can assure you that I disliked this made-up holiday before it was cool... *finger guns*.
Frankly, I refuse to acknowledge it exists--except for the possibility of half-off candy the next day. I know I'm not breaking new ground by saying Valentine's Day is a hoax, but for some of you I'd like to explain why.
It's neither practical nor logical
Look at the Target ad to the right. Perfume, roses, heart-shaped accessories, jewelry, candy: obviously, Target seems like the one-stop shop for all your V-day needs. But who really needs these things? Do you need jewelry every year to feel loved? Do you need waxy containers of milk chocolate going stale in the cupboard?
All of those material things are utterly pointless in the scheme of things. Yeah, they might make you feel special and spoiled for a couple hours, but unless your gift is actually thoughtful and premeditated, I'd wager most of those items just end up in landfills--polluting the soil with cheap dyes and polyester, or clogging our waterways. In the end, it's more of your money going down the drain on artificial symbols of your romantic commitment to another person.
Yeah, I might be a little cynical. Bear with me.
Most companies take advantage of every holiday they can, shoving the next themed product into our faces immediately after the climax of the last holiday. Sales teams find the most relevant topic and push, push, push. To me, V-Day is one of the most irritating, probably because after Christmas and New Year's I'm all holidayed-out. I don't want to see ads. I don't want to buy any more things. I just want to hibernate by myself for the rest of the winter.
I also don't find any significant meaning to Valentine's Day because of its origins: violent Roman rituals, beheadings, and then Hallmark capitalizing on it all in 1913. Here's NPR's short history on it.
I've never been a fan of cutesy and/or tacky colors like pink and purple. Valentine's Day is all about them, but more often it's red: romance, hearts, sex. Part of a marketing team's job is to study their audience's psychology and behaviors, and over time researchers like Small Biz Trends have learned that the color red:
Creates a sense of urgency (which works well for clearance sales)
Encourages appetite (think of all the fast-food chains, what colors are in the logos?)
Stimulates the body by raising blood pressure and heart rate (which is why red is associated with movement, excitement, and passion).
Obviously, Valentine's Day is not the only day where corporations take advantage of the human psyche, but it's definitely another sales tactic I don't want to fall for and waste money on.
Remember what I mentioned about all those valentine gifts and products polluting the environment? Yeah, it's a big deal, and there's a lot more to it than you might think.
Sourcing precious metals and gems for jewelry, especially gold and diamonds, can have terrible costs. One example from ResearchGate: "to source the gold needed to create one 18 karat ring results in at least 18 tons of metric waste being left behind. This waste often contains toxic residues such as mercury or cyanide that can lead to the local environment being poisoned, as was recently the case...in Colorado."
What about chocolate? It'll leave a bitter taste in your mouth. The same article from ResearchGate states that "cocoa farming has led to deforestation and the destruction of habitats," as "more than three quarters of protected areas in the Ivory Coast...have been turned into illegal cocoa bean farms." The article also mentions how the chocolate industry has become notorious for child slave labor, with corporations like Nestle getting into deep trouble.
And think twice about buying those roses. Over 65% of the cut-flowers sold in the US are imported, and one-fifth of the pesticides used overseas are banned in America. Pesticides are used much more heavily on flowers than on food crops, so you can imagine the negative impacts this industry has on its workers and even those purchasing the flowers. This post at World Resources Institute goes into further detail, the detrimental effects of JUST the cut-flower industry (floriculture), including fresh water scarcity, food insecurity in developing countries, toxic chemicals and pesticides, land use and degradation, air-miles, and its overall carbon footprint.
It's reinforcing harmful cultural norms
How often do you see ads with same-sex couples? Mixed-race couples?
Why are most of the products marketed only as gifts for men to buy for women? Why is it frowned upon if your significant other can't afford to take you out to a 5-star restaurant?
Why does everything have to be about sex? How many smelly chemicals are we going to coat ourselves with to make us more appealing? How many unsatisfied partners have learned to keep their mouth shut and go along with it, "because it's Valentine's Day"?
Why are we made to feel so terrible about being single--on this particular, random day during the second month of every year?
Not to mention that I completely disagree with the fact that we are making one day a year the most important, just one day where you're supposed to express how much you love someone. No amount of candy or roses or fancy dinners or lengthy Facebook posts can convince me that someone is truly, deeply in love with me. That's not how things work.
Phoebe Fox from the Huffington Post puts it beautifully:
"You know what’s romantic? Buying the person you love something special that you know they will love for no damn reason, out of nowhere — because that day you happened to see something that made you think of them, or that you knew would make them smile, and you wanted to give it to them.
"Romance is meeting you at the car when you get home with the groceries so you don’t have to lug them inside by yourself...It’s your sig-O picking you a flower from the side of the path when you’re hiking in the woods and putting it in your hair...not grabbing a dozen cellophane-wrapped wilting red roses sitting in a bucket of gray water at your local grocery store amid a clump of identical charmless bouquets.
"It’s giving you a ring — as in a phone call during the day just to say she’s thinking of you. Not going into debt to buy you something sparkly to prove how much he loves you."
In conclusion: love your person and cherish your person, even if that's yourself, always and year-round. And don't cave to cheap gimmicks or social "norms" that usually cause more harm than happiness.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the gym so I can run off my exasperation. Peace!
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