Posted At: February 7, 2014 12:00 p.m.
by Jonae Shaw
It’s a week before Valentine’s Day and, as usual, everyone has begun to panic. If you are in a relationship, you’re trying to decide what to buy your partner, how much to spend, and if dinner and a movie are big enough plans. On the other hand, if you’re single, you’re probably trying to decide if you should buy yourself some candy or wine for the night just to tolerate the most love-filled day of the year.
Yet, why so much emotional anxiety for one day out of 365? It’s because we’re smothered by numerous advertisements painting an image of the “perfect” Valentine’s Day. We’re being sold an image of red hearts, extravagant dinner arrangements and $3.50 Hallmark cards that apparently represent our love. We’re trapped in a frenzy of high expectations, and we’ve yet to really look at where these expectations began.
*Think about it!*
By mid-January, companies begin to tailor their advertisements around the approaching day. Jewelry commercials show up during almost every commercial break. No longer are restaurant commercials just about the food: they promote the special two-for-one prices for you and a date. Even Nickelodeon has started promoting its “Special Valentine’s Day Spongebob” episode, along with commercials about the speciality Valentine’s Day toys, gummies, snack cakes and cards.
Facebook is covered in “Best Places to Shop For Valentine’s Gifts,” or “The Kind of Candy You Buy Your Valentine, and What That Says About You As a Lover” quizzes.
Twitter ads may be scarce in comparison to Facebook, the variety of the ads has completely diminished. Just search #ValentinesDay, and you find countless gift ideas, photos of happy couples on dates, and dinner suggestions.
Even outside of broadcast and online media, there is no escaping the images of Valentine’s Day. My local Target store rearranged six whole aisles into an extravagant pink and red display filled with assorted candies, stuffed animals, cards, flowers and wine. The heart-shaped sign hanging over the aisles alerts anyone on the other side of the store where to find all their Valentine’s Day goodies. Basically, you couldn’t escape the display even if you tried.
Companies strategically use these different media to press an image of products and expensive outings on us. What’s worse, we’re falling for it! We should be considering all the companies making big bucks off of the measures we go through for one day. The U.S. Census Bureau noted that last year’s V-Day raked in $2.66 billion in jewelry sales, $13.5 billion spent on chocolates and $365 million on fresh-cut roses alone.
So is Valentine’s Day really about love, or more about the means we go through to PROVE our love to our partner — or how those who are single embrace that they’re OK without that special someone? Are we really panicking because we don’t know how to express our feelings toward that person, or that we don’t know if our chosen way to express it is good enough?
As advertisements bombard us with images of all things representing the “day of love,” we go right along and buy the big stuffed animals, over-sized candy bars and bottles of champagne with the ever-so-cute pink cork. So in one way or another, our efforts to show our love are not entirely our own.
Personally, I’m still not sure I support the teddy bears, chocolates, flowers and hour-and-a-half waits for dinner that can represent the holiday. However, I applaud the efforts of the endless ads and store displays before Valentine’s Day. Clearly, they’re doing a good job promoting an image of a day about gifts and outings to express our love.
Good thing, I’m single!