Valentine’s Day doth approacheth!
*cue ominous theatrical score*
Every year right around this time, an abundance of articles and think pieces appear on different corners of the Internet exploring the increasingly negative feelings people associate with Valentine’s Day. Mind of Malaka is no exception. I have been a longtime (and loud) hater where this holiday is concerned.
In a 2017 YouGov survey, 48% of American adults described Valentine’s Day as “overrated”. A cursory glance at other polls what ask respondents to explain their feelings towards Cupid’s International holiday include “commercialized”, “fake” and “cheesy” – which are unsettling adjectives for a day meant to celebrate love in all its forms.
As few days ago, I was mentally preparing to settle in for a weekend of my annual revolt against the Day of Love when I ran across this tweet by prolific writer and thinker, Dara Mathis:
Now, admittedly, I can’t say if this tweet was a specific rebuke for the Valentine’s Day cynic or detractor; but given the timing of the tweet and the trending topic on my timeline at the time, I will confess to being a hit dog currently hollering. Why did this tweet strike so close to the marrow? Perhaps instead of the customary missive and declarations about the capitalist machinations of a Hallmark Holiday crafted to part the fool from his/her money (and panties), the questions time to interrogate why I – someone who does in fact adore cheesy expressions of love, dislike this day so much.
Here’s what I’ve discovered:
Valentine’s Day makes me feel bad.
You may have heard a minority of folks express this sentiment without going into detail. I have only just delved into why the day makes me feel low and inferior. The whole endeavor feels like an exercise in coercion, and for someone whose upbringing was guided by bullying and one act of compulsion after the next, being obligated to demonstrate “love” to the person you love feels forced, unnatural and an assault to the spirit.
I’ll give you an example. In the early days of my marriage when Valentine’s Day rolled around, I agonized for days about what to get my husband. Finally, I settled on a gift: a chocolate arrangement with a bear and a “manly” plant he could set on his desk at work. Valentine’s Day was that Monday. I placed the order on the Saturday prior, sure that it would get to his office in time. It didn’t come until the Wednesday – and he made no qualms about expressing his disappointment. If I had better planning and foresight, he said, his gift would’ve arrived on Monday. What use was it to him now that Valentine’s Day was over?
If this gift (or any other) was meant to be a loving expression of care and appreciation, what did it matter when it arrived? I abolished the holiday in my household from that day on.
Valentine’s Day exacerbates my body dysmorphia.
You’ve seen the ads: svelte vixens with barrel curled hair clad in lacy lingerie splayed against a soft background, a “come hither” look of desire masking their face…UGH!
It’s been 16 years since the birth of my first child, and I have not gotten MY body back. The body I have the abandoned premises of a baby making factory, not the toned edifice I flaunted at beaches and clubs. Have you ever shopped for jeans? It’s a nightmare, yes? Now imagine that unpleasantness amplified by a factor of 200. Every lump on your body up for scrutiny, every dimple, scar and stretch mark that your beloved sweatpants conceals exposed…
Nothing makes me feel sexier than comfort, which is why Christmas pajamas and therefore, holiday romance is far more superior than Valentine’s Day will ever be.
I don’t like feeling obligated to have sex
A huge part of Valentine’s Day is the expectation that the night will end in seduction and sex (going back to the theme of coercion). And no matter what claims your heterosexual male partner makes to the contrary, he DOES discuss his sex-life with his peers. He wants something to report back to the boys…or at least to feel included in the general conversation. The idea that one would have to perform coitus on a February 14th EVERY SINGLE YEAR FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. simply because the culture dictates that you must just seems a little Orwellian. I’ll have to pass.
There might be a psychological reason for this revulsion
According to an article on LiveScience:
“There are many ways to measure personality, but psychologists have mostly given up on trying to divide humanity neatly into types. Instead, they focus on personality traits.
The most widely accepted of these traits are the Big Five:
A therapist recently informed me that I have a split personality – at least according to the results of the test she administered. Something about parent-child interactions and the relationship I had with my mother manifesting in my attachment issues in relationship with my husband because I recognize similar traits in him and blah blah blah *raspberry*. The point is, the personality that was formed as a result of my upbringing does not respond well to events like Valentine’s Day. I am better at spontaneous expressions of affection. (I consider this very useful information. It has helped quell a lot of anxiety and resentment I’ve previously experienced.)
These factors take the romance out of the holiday for me. It strips it of its intention. I don’t even like how Valentine’s Day is conducted at school, because there’s always that one group of kids that are intentionally excluded by their peers. Even on a platonic level, you can still be made to feel unloved, unseen or unappreciated.
For example, when my son was in second grade, he got all his friends (boys included) a chocolate and/or a flower. He got nothing in return – even though all the other children shared gifts among themselves. He was devastated…as a second grader ought to be. (Of course, I compensated for his classmates’ oversight, but the foundation for expectation had been set.)
Don’t feel too bad for him though. I’m training all my children in the dark arts of the Anti-Romantic. 🙂
Opinions on Valentine’s Day are almost always split 50/50. Where do your loyalties lie? Are you a true believer or a Grouch? Discuss!