Who buys flowers, and for whom? On Valentine’s Day, and a host of other holidays, we — as a society — answer confidently: men. Men buy flowers for the women in their lives: husbands, fiances, boyfriends, and high school boys jittering with the words of a “prom-posal” on their lips are the flower-buyers. Society says men should be the people in the market for flowers, the ones who (for better or worse), are tasked with the duty of picking out the perfect bouquet, even if they can’t tell the difference between a carnation and a hydrangea.
And this Valentine’s Day, many men will dutifully trek to the florist or grocery store or wherever they seek out their flowers and gawk at the display until ultimately settling on a bouquet of random flowers of some insignificant hue that seems like something their significant other would like.
And now that I’ve illustrated this scenario for you, I ask the critical question: why?
Why do we abide by these the strange conventions that society has placed on the notion of buying flowers? Can women buy flowers for men? Can women buy flowers for women? And most importantly — in my opinion — can women buy flowers for themselves?
I answer, confidently: yes.
I have always loved the smell of fresh flowers… the crisp aroma, the bold hues and delicate petals. Flowers automatically refresh a room; there is nothing so innately uplifting than a vase of fresh flowers sitting on the counter amidst a room full of chaos.
Sometime about a year ago, I began the totally unconventional habit of buying myself flowers. I was in a pretty dark place, sad and stressed and generally anxious all the time, and I found that replenishing my vase (yes I own a vase in college) each week brought a breath of fresh air into my life, like a habitual spring cleaning where you wash the sheets and open the windows and play bubbly music much too loudly.
So what began as a measure in self-care developed into a joyful habit, and I expanded the reasons for which I would purchase flowers from cultivating good mental health to expressing gratitude to important people in my life.
I bought a bouquet for my favorite professor (of two whole years) to thank her for her enthusiasm in the classroom.
I bought a bouquet for my parents at the conclusion of the semester to thank them for their tuition money, all the times I called crying, and their unwavering support.
I bought a bouquet for my friend who let me crash at her house for a week before my summer sublet was ready for me to move in (shout out to you Carly, you’re the GOAT).
I bought a bouquet for myself when I moved into my summer sublet, the first summer I spent away from home paying (most of) my own bills and working several jobs.
I bought a bouquet for my best friend on the evening of her big play.
And the list goes on. I’ve established a habit of buying flowers (and spending a good chunk of change on them), both for myself and for my loved ones, for so many hundreds of reasons, despite society pushing the narrative that flowers are for men to present to women. And in doing so, I have created a habit of cultivating joy, gratitude, kindness and respect — for myself, and for everyone else around me.
So ladies, this Valentine’s Day here is my advice to you: “Plant your own garden & decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.” — Jorge Luis Borges
And for your viewing pleasure, here are a handful of my other favorite bouquets:
Photos courtesy of Britt Boyle.