Don’t be afraid to celebrate self-love on February 14th
Over the years, the “trending topics” on Twitter have become a broken record. Users can expect to see reoccurring hashtags associated with a specific month featured on their Twitter feeds. For example, every March, one reoccurring hashtag is #StPatricksDay and in May, it is #MothersDay. In February, #WhyImSingle and #SinglesAwarenessDay (#SAD) primarily dominates Twitter’s trending topics on days approaching February 14th. It’s as if Millennials on Twitter who use hashtags prepare for their Valentine’s Day related tweets in advance.
Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a fixed date on the Western calendar on which individuals who believe in its importance make extra efforts in expressing their affection towards loved ones. February 14th is only as special and socially significant as you allow it to be, and the selection of words you choose to associate it with.
There can be a lot of pressure to have a romantic date on Valentine’s Day if you are single. Restaurants almost exclusively cater their hospitality services to couples with a romantic, promotional Valentine’s Day dinner for two. Most shops, if not all, promote Valentine’s Day sales on clothing items, chocolate, and alcohol. It is no surprise that many businesses take full advantage of this day, employing the best marketing strategies for the most profit.
I am guilty of tweeting about my “singleness” and overusing #WhyImSingle in high school. I didn’t participate in this discussion because I genuinely pitied myself for being single; I incorporated these hashtags into my tweets because everyone on Twitter was doing it. As an insecure, impressionable teenager, I thought complaining about my single status on social media was cool; in reality, I thought celebrating Valentine’s Day was a cliché.
As a single woman, I indulge in the festivities of Valentine’s Day. It’s another day that I get to pamper myself and willingly fall into the traps of consumerism. Personally, Valentine’s Day is an excellent excuse to purchase an expensive bottle of red wine and a bouquet of flowers, eat a box of assorted chocolates, and watch Sex and the City. Who ever said you had to spend time with another person when the best company you could ever ask for is yourself?
We often neglect ourselves, placing loved ones and their needs before our own desires. Assign February 14th a new hashtag, #LoveMeDay, and put in the same amount of effort on yourself as you would for a significant other or otherwise.
When reflecting on the standards of Valentine’s Day, it is also important to be conscious of the fact that not everyone is as privileged as individuals who fit into heteronormative society.
Valentine’s Day is innately heteronormative, a practice that celebrates and promotes cisnormativity. Advertisements for Valentine’s Day events rarely include representation of LGBTQ+ peoples, much less transgender and non-binary folks. At present, Western society entertains itself with the misconceived idea that as a collective, we are inclusive and empathetic to the voices and experiences of the LGBTQ+ community; that our heteronormative society has become more aware of these marginalized voices and allowed ourselves to hear their experiences of persecution and oppression.
This belief in having achieved equality—in breaking free from our heteronormative, cisnormative ideals—is not only misleading but it also grants the heteronormative collective to feel satisfied for the progress that has been made thus far. This isn’t to say that individuals of the LGBTQ+ community cannot and should not participate in Valentine’s Day activities, but there is simply not enough representation of queerness in society. Despite some progress, the lack of acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is evident, especially on days like Valentine’s Day. It serves as another reminder that the societies across the globe are still exclusive to non-heteronormative narratives—just another reason to deny the importance of celebrating Valentine’s Day in the “traditional” way, because “traditional” can often be shaming and exclusive.
If Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, be unabashedly selfish and spoil yourself, just like you should every other day. Don’t throw yourself a pity party and complain about your lack of a significant partner.