With roots hundreds of years old, the celebration of Valentine’s Day is a long-standing tradition. Although some of the principles of Valentine’s Day do continue to be appealing today, it is evident that, due to a lack of inclusivity in the way that the day is marketed, it is losing a significant amount of its charm. With marketing that is incredibly heteronormative and old-fashioned, the celebration is becoming increasingly outdated in our ever-changing world. An effort should be made to reclaim Valentine’s Day as a more inclusive celebration of all types of love.
The excessive commercialism of Valentine’s Day frequently highlights the heteronormativity of the day’s marketing. Adverts predominantly focus on heterosexual relationships. Despite including a same-sex couple in their campaign last year, Hallmark Greeting Cards’ 2018 Valentine’s Day advert shows three heterosexual couples. The way Valentine’s Day is commonly marketed can wrongly create the impression that certain types of relationships are more desirable than others. This is something potentially damaging to people’s attitudes towards others. In a world where issues of equality are prime, more should be done to change the marketing of Valentine’s Day to something more inclusive of all kinds of relationships. All relationships are significant and deserve to be celebrated.
Nonetheless, limited efforts have been made by some to portray Valentine’s Day as a more inclusive celebration. Lush Cosmetics, for example, has released two advertisements for their 2018 Valentine’s Day range both showing same-sex couples proudly celebrating the holiday together. Taking to Twitter to share this, Lush asserted their belief in “the right to love for everyone”; a statement which has received staggering amounts of praise from Twitter users. In future years, it would be nice to see more companies following suit and changing the way they advertise Valentine’s Day in an effort to show that it is a celebration open to all.
The issues surrounding Valentine’s Day do, however, go beyond that of its heteronormative and outdated marketing. One popular aspect of Valentine’s Day is buying gifts for our significant others. British consumers spend over one billion pounds per year on Valentine’s Day alone. But are the gender-specific gifts ‘for him’ and ‘for her’ really something which resonates in this day and age? Surely they reinforce the gender-stereotypes which we are trying so hard to move past?
We should be making an effort to celebrate all types of love on Valentine’s Day; it should not just be a celebration of purely romantic love. Valentine’s Day, in its traditional sense, marginalises asexual people and those not in relationships, and also suggests that being in a romantic relationship is a norm to which all should aspire. Self-love, platonic love, and love within families must also be included within Valentine’s Day celebrations. Increasingly, people are buying Valentine’s Day cards and gifts for their friends and family as a token of their affection. In recent years, ‘Galentine’s Day’ celebrations have also become popular, with females taking the time to celebrate their friendship with their nearest and dearest ‘gals’. Though celebrated on 13 February rather than on 14 February, ‘Galentine’s Day’ advances the idea that all types of love should be recognised and celebrated.
All love deserves to be celebrated, and the way Valentine’s Day is currently marketed needs to be changed in order to make the day a more inclusive celebration.
Image: Ylanite Kloppens via Flickr