The Chief Tester: Pressure for perfect Valentine’s Day

By Nadine Tester

Feb. 14 is right around the corner, and it seems that every commercial and every magazine feature is about makeovers, finding that special someone or planning the perfect evening for the person you’re in a relationship with (or want to be in a relationship with).

Valentine’s Day is a tricky holiday, mainly because how you feel about it usually depends on whether you’re with another person romantically or not. I know, when I’m with someone on Valentine’s Day, it’s a struggle to make it the perfect evening (can an evening ever be perfect?), but if I’m single, I scoff every time I see candy hearts and script-laden pink cards with rhyming couplets of undying love. Can love get any cheesier than romantic notes written by someone else?

The pressure on Valentine’s Day, whether you’re in a relationship or not, is immense: Pressure to find the perfect trinket for your loved one, pressure to find a loved one and pressure to act kindly and say only the most flattering things when you see your crush or significant other.

To most people in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is about love. You already like the person you’re with and an evening already set aside on the calendar gives you an excuse to splurge on a night out. Maybe all those candy hearts are too much, but it’s all right because you have another person to laugh about it with.

Even though Kay Jewelers wants you to think that expensive gifts will get you that kiss on Feb. 14, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to show the person you’re with that you care about him or her. Why should an arbitrary day make your love any stronger than any other day of the year?

For a single person, it’s a complicated story. Although all those boxes of chocolates and heart-warming commercials make you sick to your stomach, inside there’s a secret (and sometimes very blatant) yearning for the perfect lover. Everywhere you go, it seems that everyone is part of a couple. Unfortunately, many popular magazines emphasize a single person’s need to make him- or herself over around Valentine’s Day.

Looking for love on Feb. 14 is a bad idea, but if you’re going to do it, at least be yourself. Even though most media outlets are urging makeovers for singles, your future special someone will be more impressed with your own look. He or she is not trying to date your stylist, so let what’s on the inside of yourself (the most important part) do the talking.

Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is meant for romantic love. But if you’re feeling lonely, scratch eating a pint of ice cream alone and go visit your loved ones. Make a special trip home or call up some close friends. To me, this holiday is still all about tiny, mass-produced valentines, with every cartoon character imaginable on them. Every kindergarten and first-grade classroom has the right idea of giving each kid a valentine with a little heart sticker and maybe a lollipop or a candy heart. The insides of these cards aren’t cheesy or overdone; they express the kind of love and caring that I feel everyone should express on Feb. 14. Sentiments like “You’re a good friend” can brighten anyone’s day.

Somewhere along this holiday’s long history, Valentine’s Day got way out of hand. Today, diamond necklaces, dozens of red roses and sweet-smelling colognes are the only acceptable gifts. If you’re only interested in getting gifts like this when the big day comes around, you should rethink love. Remember, your love, like Jennifer Lopez’s, shouldn’t cost a thing.

Valentine’s Day, in the end, is really what you make of it. This holiday shouldn’t be considered a struggle to find or be the most passionate lover. The amount of pressure to be perfect on Valentine’s Day, and to make it special for whomever, is so great that the holiday loses something. Although it may seem to be only about buying the best gift, next Thursday is really about being with people that you love — and loving them in whatever way you see fit.

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