By Kirsten Murray
Valentine’s Day wasn’t even on my mind until I got an email from a card company asking if I would rather not receive Valentine’s Day related emails this year. Firstly, bold of them to assume my single status (which they are completely right about), but secondly it made me consider whether us single pringles should be able to face up to Valentine’s Day, and if we should be excluded or exclude ourselves from a day meant for love?
Valentine’s Day is hugely commercialised, probably more so than any other holiday, and yet many people are completely unaware of its origins – St Valentine who? Underneath all the cheesy paraphernalia, pink cupcakes and ‘dine in for two’ vouchers, Valentine’s Day is actually supposed to be about love (*vomits*), something we all deserve to surround ourselves with.
Many may argue that Valentine’s Day should be scrapped. My parents have been happily married for 25 years and I haven’t once seen them buy each other a Valentine’s Day card, because those kinds of things don’t define a happy relationship. While most of us will appreciate this, there is still a need to change many people’s mindset towards this day of love and prove that there are many values we can take from Valentine’s Day and apply to our lives all year round.
This year actress and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow has released perhaps the most extravagant Valentine’s Day gift guide through her wellness and lifestyle company, Goop. You may be thinking “sounds like more commercialised crap”, and whilst the list does include a $38,000 champagne vending machine that shockingly doesn’t even come stocked with champagne, I think there is something we can learn from Paltrow’s 40 vibrator strong list.
The gift guide is split into four sections and beneath the clever marketing, there are some deeper meanings about how we can choose to love ourselves and those around us.
1. Fuck Me
Described as ‘the things that hit the spot every time’, this section advertises a range of items from sexy lingerie and sex toys to flowers and body butter. I’m sure we would all love to hit *that* spot every day, but maybe Valentine’s Day should also make us think about the simple things that bring us happiness on a daily basis. .
It is easy to get caught up in the stresses of life, work, university, the inescapable news of Covid. We live in a society obsessed with the ‘what next’ and, although it is important to be ambitious and strive to reach your goals, you can still implement small things into each day that you enjoy. Whether it is cooking, reading a book, chatting with a friend or family member, or even just going for a walk to your favourite coffee shop for some fresh air, it is about creating healthy habits that energise you and make you feel good. I’ve recently seen it suggested that we shouldn’t look at our phone for the first and last hour of each day – maybe it’s time to evaluate your social media usage and set aside time for yourself instead.
2. Fuck You
This is for ‘all the lucky ones (lover, friends, friends who are also lovers) who get to be adored by you.’ This one is about showing love to the people dear to you – and this can be more inclusive than only for those in romantic relationships. I don’t know where I would be without my friends, and let’s be honest, when heartbreak comes around they are the ones that will help pick you up and put you back together again.
Last Valentine’s Day – correction – last Galentine’s Day I had the best time getting dressed up, drunk and dancing around the kitchen with my best friend into the early hours (for context we were students in lockdown, and this is as close as we could get to clubbing, but regardless is there a better way to spend your time?). My point is that we didn’t need to buy each other extravagant gifts, instead we spent time together making unforgettable, or maybe slightly unmemorable memories.
3. Fuck It
‘Grand romantic gestures? Say no more.’ If grand means hella spenny then Goop definitely delivers on this, with suggestions of holidays abroad and Chanel bags. But in a non-financial context, why don’t we take the ‘fuck it’ attitude and live more freely. If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that life can be unexpected to say the least and the things we perhaps take for granted might not always be there. It’s corny but we should appreciate the small things and grab the opportunities that come our way. Life is for living, not just existing, so whether it is doing something with your partner, friends, family or just for yourself say ‘fuck it’ and do it. It doesn’t have to break the bank, it's about having no regrets.
4. Fuck Off
The tag line for this one may be slightly insulting ‘For some of us, February 14 is less fancy chocolate and lacy lingerie, more infrared blanket and Leo Tolstoy. Reminder: Anti-Valentine’s Day people need love, too.’ I mean relationship or not I don’t think many girls would turn down lacy lingerie and fancy chocolate and the fact that the first item under this list is a grey sweatshirt and a sweat pants set is again rather insulting. But at least those of us who Valentine’s isn’t traditionally aimed at are still being acknowledged and encouraged to treat ourselves even if we aren’t loved up (the aforementioned champagne vending machine is on this list.)
The message here is to love ourselves! And to do it every day, not just for one day a year. Life comes with its challenges, and it is important to let yourself know that you are doing good. Too many of us would never dream of talking to someone else the way we speak to ourselves. This year let Valentine’s Day be the day you change how you speak to yourself, tell yourself that you can do something, that you are worthy. Loving yourself is completely free, it is a mindset.
Behind the commercialism of February 14th there are important values to be embraced all year round. There is a lot of stress, hate, uncertainty, and distractions in society, so maybe we do need Valentine’s Day to remind us to love. Let’s appreciate the small wins in life, our loved ones, the opportunities granted to us, and most importantly, ourselves. Love doesn’t have to mean a $38,000 champagne vending machine – no matter how much we might (think) we want one.