These days I’m pretty indifferent about Valentine’s Day. I love the idea of celebrating love but love isn’t something that’s proven with shiny red candy boxes and teddy bears from Duane Reade, ridiculously overpriced flowers/meals/cards/jewelry/everything, or the pressure to buy these things. It also can be quite a non-loving experience when marketers imply that if you’re single, you’re lame-o and “unloveable.” However, I’m a lover of love and I’m not going to let society and capitalism steal my joy. Instead I’m choosing to focusing on loving myself and my community on Valentine’s Day and every day.
That’s the focus of Essence Revealed’s “Pre-Valentine’s Day” Sensual Dance Boot Camp.” Essence is a burlesque dancer and dual-degreed “lap-dance engineer” who created this boot camp to help women get in touch with their sensuality, love their bodies and their movement, and get a serious work out. She wanted to do this workshop series leading up to Valentine’s Day culminating with a “Ladies Night Out” to flip the sadness and feelings of inadequacy that single women are made to feel with this “couple’s holiday.” Classes start in NYC on February 1 (either lunchtime or evenings) through the 13th, ending with a Valentine’s Day night on the town. There’s no nudity involved, it’s all about having fun, enjoying your body and giving yourself permission to express!
You can also resist the idea that we are only worthy when coupled on OccupyVDay, a new tumblr site where you can submit your own messages against Valentine’s Day, or more accurately against “single-shaming.” It was started by Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Executive Editor of Feministing.com and author of Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining Your Life, who has done extensive work bashing stereotypes around single women as pathetic, hopeless and unfulfilled. Don’t believe the hype, ok?!
While we must love ourselves first, love also really feels good when it is shared. One way to spread love on Valentine’s Day is to show love for your community. The Who Cares? I Do. campaign, created by the Human Services Council of New York, is setting up installations around New York City’s five boroughs highlighting the love that New Yorkers have for human services. What are human services? They are daycare and after-school programs, domestic violence shelters, senior centers, job training, substance abuse support…a wide variety of vital services that keep communities safe and healthy. By expressing your love for human services, it shows the government that we support these critical services that our neighbors and our communities need. Make your own Valentine and submit it to be posted on February 14 on their Facebook page, Twitter feed or physically at one of the locations throughout the city.
Valentine’s Day is only one day out 365 (sometimes 366). No matter what your relationship “status” may be, take the opportunity to show love to yourself first and foremost. Spread love for your community and the people around you, it multiplies and comes back. Love is beautiful and worth celebrating every day!