Media portrayal of Valentine's Day un-bear-able

By Minju Park

Valentine’s Day: the day of love, heart-shaped chocolate boxes and explosions of pink and red in every department store across the country—for those who are in relationships.

For single people, it’s sometimes referred to as Singles Awareness Day. As they watch their friends receive presents from their significant others, or take pictures being starry-eyed at each other over a candlelight dinner, many singles voice their bitterness or loneliness on the day that excludes those who aren’t currently engaged in a relationship.

For some couples, Valentine’s Day is just another day to celebrate love, which they tend to do everyday. But the truth is that preparing for Valentine’s Day while in a relationship sometimes causes so much stress that it causes negative feelings of wanting the relationship to end. Single people should remember that not having a boyfriend or girlfriend on Valentine’s Day is not the end of your life—being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness in one’s life.

According to a survey that polled 2,000 U.K residents with varying relationship statuses, about 34 percent of people who are in a relationship admitted they wish they were single on Valentine’s Day because it would be “more fun”. This is proof of how the stress of taking care of one’s significant other becomes more of a burden or an obligation, rather than something that they would want to do out of love for their partner.

It’s no secret that single people tend to feel lonely and isolated as well on a day that celebrates love. A study by Vocativ analyzed 4,985 tweets containing the words “Valentine’s Day” from Jan. 31 to Feb. 11, and found that 1,035 used the word “lonely”, 611 included “sad” and 184 featured “sucks”.

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    This is triggered in part by the influx of Valentine’s Day advertisements that cover our billboards and television screens every corner we turn as the holiday approaches.

    The overly commercialized holiday of Valentine’s Day has a muddled history with vague origins. Some historians argue that on Feb. 14, Pope Gelasius declared it the day to honor St. Valentine due to his defiance against an emperor that was banning soldiers from marrying. Another tale argues that Feb. 14 is the day that birds begin to choose their mates.

    Somehow, Valentine’s Day has morphed into a holiday manipulated by the media, making it seem necessary for couples to happily splurge money on one another for chocolates, flowers and teddy bears.

    This obviously isn’t the reality for many couples. Some treat the holiday as a regular night, while other couples feel resentment rather than loving anticipation for the big day.

    Around the beginning of January, when Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, is a day that has been coined “National Divorce Day.” This year, it fell on Jan 4, the first working Monday of the year, when the number of inquiries for divorce peaks. Clearly, some people aren’t in the loving spirit this time of

    And for nearly 70 percent of those in a relationship, according to the same U.K study, Valentine’s Day “is not a significant day at all”br. For those who have been involved for a while, simple weekend dates are common. These casual nights are not representative of the overly romanticized images of Valentine’s Day that are stereotyped by big brands such as Hallmark.

    While being single on Valentine’s Day might seem bleak, nearly 66 percent of singles answered that they are planning on staying home for a relaxing night instead of going outbr. Another 51 percent reported that they are content with being single, and among them, 28 percent love their independence and want to stay that waybr.

    There shouldn’t be so much single-shaming on a day that’s meant to foster love in general—not just for a boyfriend or girlfriend. Many singles seem satisfied with their love lives outside of Valentine’s Day, and those who are shouldn’t be brought down by the media’s over-the-top portrayal of the event.

    For singles who think that Valentine’s Day is a day to stay home and resent one’s love life, it is time to rethink that outlook. While the media depicts Valentine’s Day as a time when couples shamelessly flaunt their relationships, in reality, it’s just another day of expressing care for one another.

    Ignore the propaganda of Valentine’s Day commercialization and embrace your relationship status, whether you are single or not.

    Minju is a freshman in LAS.

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