With Valentine's Day coming up, we have a lot of thoughts. About romance. And love. And, let's be honest: hate (for the marketing of deep human emotions, just for starters). So we took to Slack (as we've done on the topics of dating app craziness and astrology) to figure out for once and for all: Valentine's Day—hell yes or nah? Here, senior food and health editor Jessie Van Amburg, assistant editor Tamim Alnuweiri, and associate beauty and fitness editor Zoe Weiner, and I have a (very loving) verbal brawl over the meaning of February 14.
ERIN: Let me start by saying we won't be talking about the 2010 film Valentine's Day, starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Julia Roberts, and about 47 other celebs. Just to be clear! We're talking about the February 14 lovefest.
So I came into this feeling like Valentine's Day is SO over, mostly because that's how I feel about it, and most of my friends. In a long-term relationship, Valentine's Day feels like the New Year's Eve of love: performative and, often, not that much fun. So I find a thrilling freedom in just not caring and JOMO-ing the whole thing. But I am aware that others have not quite lost that loving feeling for V-Day! So, first question...
Valentine's Day: yay or nay? And why?
TAMIM: I don't really do "relationships" so even when I’ve been seeing someone around that time of the year I’m not that down to do something romantic. Plus it would interfere with my regularly scheduled programming on February 14, which is to do weird shit with my life’s platonic soul partner and best friend, Amy.
JESSIE: I am so embarrassing but I love Valentine’s Day. I think I get it from my mom, who LOVES Valentine’s Day cards and gifts and pink things and chocolate candy. I freaking love giving people valentines. I feel like it’s this day where it’s ok to shower affection on all the people you love without it being weird? That said, V-Day in a relationship is so bizarre and fraught.
ERIN: Everyone should have a platonic soul partner. Love that. And Jessie, your mom sounds delightful!
ZOE: I have always been a hardcore Valentine's Day stan. When I was 12, my summer camp boyfriend sent two dozen roses to my middle school English class (and really set my expectations WAY too high for future boyfriends). I'm someone who just loves love in the cheesiest way possible—and when I'm in it, I love to celebrate it with cards and candy and roses and vacations
TAMIM: So I actually kind of look forward to the day because we have dinner somewhere we love and watch a movie or do something kind of weird and it's a really nice day for us hahah.
JESSIE: I used to put a LOT of stake in it in the first few years in my current relationship b/c I’d never had a boyfriend before and so I’d stress myself out about gifts and doing fun activities and stuff, and it was so stressful. I literally had a meltdown the night before Valentine’s Day one year because it was stressing me out so much.
TAMIM: I think if a dude I was seeing ever sent me anything on Valentine's Day I would freak out in a bad way hahaha.
ZOE: I honestly couldn't care less about gifts, but when I'm in a relationship I love having a day where we can just celebrate each other.
ERIN: Same, Zoe! But at the same time, what if they gave you something you really wanted, Tamim?
TAMIM: I would hope they know me well enough to not give me a gift on Valentine's Day—I'd rather get it on Groundhog Day or something like that. If they give me something I want but on Valentine's Day, it means they don't know me and it's over.
JESSIE: Drag em, Tamim.
ZOE: Forward your presents to me.
TAMIM: Valentine's Day is capitalist propaganda and is part of the reason Amazon is about to destroy NYC.
ERIN: But it's chocolate capitalist propaganda tho.
JESSIE: I mean, I agree it’s 100% made up and ridiculous. But I just…love giving my friends Valentines. This is the day of the year when I’m more Leslie Knope than April Ludgate.
ZOE: I just feel like there is so much hate and negativity in the world right now, a day to celebrate love is kind of special. I'm with the whole team in that it doesn't have to be romantic love.
TAMIM: I just think Valentine's Day is like so heteronormative and normie, it bores me to tears.
ERIN: Anybody do Galentine's Day like on Parks & Rec? I always want to, but fall short on planning.
JESSIE: That sounds way more fun than 99% of Valentine’s Day anything.
TAMIM: And has anyone ever gotten anything good for Valentine's Day???
I feel like it's just pressure spending and you receive weird hideous jewelry.
ZOE: ^^ the 2 dozen roses from summer camp Jacob.
JESSIE: The teddy bear “i love you beary much.” [Chokes back vomit.]
TAMIM: Lol yes ^^.
ZOE: Single me likes to think of Valentine's Day as a day for self-love.
JESSIE: What kinds of things do you do, Zoe? Like what is self-love for you?
ZOE: ...now feels like the opportunity to plug the Womanizer.
In all seriousness
ZOE: I treat it as a self-care day! I don't have to spend money on a man or a gift for someone else, so I can spend it on myself. That means a fun workout class or a massage or a delicious dinner.
TAMIM: But is that stuff you wouldn't do for yourself any other day of the week?
I guess I don't know, I should ease up, I'm just the reincarnation of Ebenezer Scrooge.
ERIN: For the VDay stans, do you feel differently about February 14 when you're single vs. in a relationship?
ZOE: Last year leading up to Valentine's Day I was suuuuper sad. I had gone through a breakup and really felt like garbage about it. So I took the opportunity to reframe my thinking about being happy about being in a relationship with myself, hence the self-care day. Not in like a "woe is me let me get a massage and wallow in my sorrow" kind of way, but more of a "let me celebrate this awesome person who I love, aka me."
JESSIE: When I was single I just focused all my energy on my friends. I was that person who bought candy and kids Valentine cards from CVS (you know like the ones you’d pass out in elementary school?) and snuck them to all my friends.
ERIN: Jessie! That is the cutest.
JESSIE: I was the only one who did that but I still loved it
ERIN: I wanted to come back to the heteronormative/conformity thing Tamim mentioned...When I was in my 20s, it was like Mad Men in my office. Everybody got huge bouquets delivered to THE office. Then you had to haul it home! But if you told your S.O. not to do it, everyone looked at you with pity. I don't see flowers in offices as much anymore—is that still a thing anywhere?
TAMIM: I don't know, I don't think it's a thing? I could be wrong. I do bring Amy flowers. But that's in person.
TAMIM: I would never send them to her. I think she would rather get hit by a car.
JESSIE: I definitely don’t see it as often in offices, I think people have moved away from that.
ERIN: Progress! That's probably what started me on my grumpiness about all the hoopla.
JESSIE: But yeah, so much of it feels so heteronormative. Just browsing the Valentine’s Day cards anywhere you go—all of it is men and women. There’s so little representation of any other kind of relationship.
TAMIM: I do think it is something that I associate with heteronormativity. And I grew up with a big circle of closeted and openly LGBTQIA+ friends, so the day was almost aggressive sometimes? Like the idea that you could parade around your heterosexual partner but the gay kids in school would still get beat up or called names.
JESSIE: Even in 2019, most of the traditions/pagentry are for straight couples.
TAMIM: Like it was this day of panic almost—the idea of very publicly sending and receiving flowers and gifts and stuff. It was very exclusionary.
JESSIE: So yeah admittedly as a straight woman, I certainly get why I may get more joy out of this random dumb day than someone who doesn’t have my privilege.
ZOE: ^^ RT @jessie.vanamburg
ERIN: I will say I DO love the idea of showering the people I love with attention—everyone in my life, as you said, Jessie. That's so sweet and so you. I just want to do it at home. So, last q ...
Valentine's Day is actually my anniversary with NYC. I arrived on February 14, 2002, with my dad, and we went out to eat that night. It's bonkers how many people think a 30-year age difference equals "date" instead of "daughter" when you're out on Valentine's Day. That's my most memorable one, out of sheer weirdness and my joy at making it to NYC. (And yeah, I still heart NY.)
You've mentioned a couple of memorable Valentine's Days. Any other weird February 14ths that had nothing to do with hearts and chocolates? Going against the tide can make it a weird day.
JESSIE: I saw Black Swan on a date with someone on Valentine’s weekend and…don’t ever see Black Swan on a date.
ERIN: Ohhhhh no.
ZOE: There was a failed striptease one year.
TAMIM: Who did the striptease?
ZOE: [See-no-evil emoji]
TAMIM: Failed in what sense!!!!
JESSIE: Did you spontaneously combust? Did you trip and fall while taking off your tights? (Not like that’s ever happened to me.)
ZOE: It just...didn't go well. ^^ and that actually did happen.
ERIN: Hey, that's an "A for effort" situation. I say YOU TRIED, you succeeded, Zoe.
ZOE: Yeah, I just can't listen to Selena Gomez's "Hands to Myself" ever again.
TAMIM: One year when Amy was traveling I went to to a dim sum place in Chinatown, got kind of ill, then went to the Stonewall Inn because they have bingo there on Monday nights (or at least they used to), where they give you these giant containers with popcorn and M&Ms.
ERIN: To me, popcorn combo-ed with M&Ms is love in food form...so I'm gonna consider that a "date," Tamim. Sorry to tell you.
TAMIM: Lol you can!!! But it was me and like FOUR gay men.
ERIN: IT COUNTS
TAMIM: Which also honestly just sounds like my high school dating history. And not to brag but this year me and Amy are extending it two days!
JESSIE: Yes!!! Make it an EVENT.
TAMIM: On the 14th we’re going to see Casablanca at the Metrograph and then the next day we’re have a steak dinner at Minetta Tavern.
JESSIE: ;______; I love Casablanca. Excellent choice.
ERIN: Swoon...love it.
TAMIM: Thank you!!! Honestly okay so I do like Valentine's Day but only because I have a platonic soul mate. If it was romantic, I'd gag.
ERIN: OMG I FEEL LIKE OPRAH RIGHT NOW. We shared our feelings and came together and found common ground...And we turned Tamim.
ZOE: WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE ,TAMIM. (Or should I say the bright and fluffy and stuffed animal-filled side.)
TAMIM: Lol i just realized I guess I don't like all of the other weird marketed shit associated with it!!!! But me and Amy have fun on Valentine's Day!!! I look forward to it.
If there are bright and fluffy animals I'm leaving again.
ERIN: Okay, much like Zoe's striptease, I'm gonna call this a victory. Thank you all so much for this sharing, caring V-Day chat. I can honestly say I LOVE each one of you. But I won't be sending you flowers, sorry not sorry. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!!
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