In the past, Valentine’s Day primarily focused on love, sex and admiration in romantic relationships. An emphasis on dreamy dates resulted in packed restaurants, theaters, parks, ice cream shops and bedrooms. Gifts included expensive jewelry, bouquets of flowers, enticing lingerie and endless amounts of chocolate. Valentine’s Day was for couples to have an excuse to display affection toward one another. People not in happy relationships, however, were left out of the picture entirely.
This year, I feel that the lens through which Valentine’s Day is advertised and viewed is changing. The day is still about love. But now when I say love, I mean self-love, friend love, family love and mentor love rather than romantic love.
The idea behind Galentine’s Day, what many women commonly use to refer to the day before Valentine’s Day, is becoming more of a national trend. People are taking the day to show all of the people in their life who love them that they appreciate them. There are Galentine’s Day parties, paraphernalia and related Snapchat filters.
Even Victoria’s Secret, which is commonly criticized for objectifying women and advertising that only slender, tall, white women are sexy, is following the change in Valentine’s Day. Its promotion this year is Me-Day. Not V-Day, but Me-Day. Its advertisements include women in lingerie with the message of loving yourself and doing things for yourself.
Part of me thinks this is a great shift in the focus of Valentine’s Day because love, especially in the English language, is more encompassing than just love for a romantic partner. I definitely think it’s necessary to call your mother and buy your roommate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but, on the other hand, disregarding the romantic side of Valentine’s Day is ridiculous.
I’m a young adult and falling in love and being in love is, simply put, fun. Romance should be fun too, but I feel that the rejection of the romantic aspect of Valentine’s Day is putting a taboo on the heat and passion that I think should be in any form of a romantic relationship.
I mean, there’s a decoration in 8:15 at Boatwright that reads “Cupid is Stupid.” Is Cupid stupid? If Cupid represents intrigue, enchantment, love and passion, then I’m confused about what part of him is stupid. Instead, shouldn’t it say “Cupid Shouldn’t Be Excluded or Disputed?" That’s nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing and definitely doesn't belong on a Hallmark card, but it's certainly more accurate in my eyes.
In my opinion, this whole shift in Valentine’s Day represents the loss of courtship in my generation. I would not go so far as to say that romance is dead, because one of my best friends and her boyfriend are getting dressed up and going out to dinner for a nice meal together in a fancy restaurant. I would say, however, that romantic efforts are not as prevalent as they seem to have been in the not-so-distant past.
Romance and sexuality should be embraced. Don’t shy away from these passionate feelings because they're unknown and intimidating. But, hey — if you want to indulge in self-love and wear that pretty, black, lacy bra you just bought from the Victoria’s Secret Me-Day promotion, by all means, you should go ahead and do it.
Contact contributor Victoria Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.