Valentine’s Day. You either love it or you hate it. Usually this is dependent on whether you have a significant other, or instead spend the day trying with all your might to avoid such sickening displays of affection. But has this typical day of romance and love become yet another spoke in the all-consuming wheel of consumerism?
The shops are flooded with rose bouquets, heart-shaped chocolate boxes and fuchsia pink cards which say things like “I love you more than anything else in the whole wide world”. It’s clear that businesses are making a very satisfying profit from our cliché proclamations of love. Everywhere is under pressure to sell the most romantic cards, the cutest gifts – and we’re under pressure to buy them. Stereotypical portrayals of romance are heavily relied on by many, and the stores take full advantage of us. Is this a way of maximising profit? Or is it genuinely the way we want to show our loved ones how we feel?
It’s understandable to feel like we should cut out Valentine’s Day all-together. Surely, we shouldn’t need a specific day to tell our significant other our feelings towards them. With the increasing influence of social media, Valentine’s Day is becoming even more centred on outward appearances of love and the purchases we make that seemingly express them. Every couple seems to be posting their lavish gifts and romantic activities. Each year there appears to be less of a focus on genuine feelings and an increasing pressure to buy the perfect gift and having everyone know that you’re out having fun together. These companies hugely conform to stereotypes, putting pressure on couples to conform to certain roles which makes them easier to manipulate into categories.
However, making your loved one feel special is a big part of what Valentine’s Day should really be about. Buying flowers for your partner, or chocolates for your fellow single pals, can really make them feel special and loved. Though you may well be falling under the spell of capitalism when buying that pink soppy card, perhaps it’s the message written inside that’s really worth the most to the receiver.
So, this February the 14th, when you’re struggling to choose between the heart-shaped lollypop or the chocolate rose, think outside the box. Get creative and get personal. I believe we should stop the consumer-driven interpretations of romance and that this famous holiday should revert back to what it needed to be about all along – love.