Shame On 'Love Shaming'
by Nina Gayleard
The ever hopeful sub plot to favorite movies and the inspirational motivator in popular adversity-fighting campaigns – love, an ageless celebration.
I remember celebrating love from a very young age. On Valentine's Day, in elementary school, everyone received a valentine from every other classmate. Our eager, little hands would pry open each flap to read another "I Love You!" or "You Rock!" Yet slowly, the “love your neighbor as love yourself” concept began to dissipate. It wasn't cool in middle school to just love everyone. Couples were teased because it was weird to even "like-like" someone. Cliques formed and built barriers around themselves to hoard all their love for only their closest of friends. Slowly, but surely, we all began to lose the underlying simplistic love for others. We began shaming it.
Love shaming: the act of poking fun at or negatively judging another's love is an issue of far more importance than it’s normally made out to be.
Sometimes we don't even realize we're doing it. Maybe our best friend's boyfriend is "super cute and sweet" and we can't help but give in to that twinge of jealousy that's clawing at us. Or we think that PDA is the grossest thing imaginable. Maybe our friends gossiping and calling Sally names for "literally always" kissing her boyfriend are not things that are harmless and just ‘of age’, perhaps they are the things that really corrupt us as an upcoming society. Admittedly, there are limits to the extent that it is acceptable to show love for someone, especially in public (most of which are protected by federal law), but what's so wrong with couples holding hands in the halls at school? Why do we submit to dropping the comment that our best friend's cute relationship "makes us sick?"
There are infinite reasons why people love shame. Backed by any reasoning or not, it needs to stop. High school culture, in particular, presents a stigma that there is something wrong with openly showing affection and care for someone. Adolescents toss around the words "gay", "whipped", and "obsessive", as if it's nothing. With these words being fired at couples or any type of intimate relationship, what are they really condoning? Love shaming is taking the beautiful, sought-after human desire of love and making it ignominious, something that one must feel shame and guilt for taking a part in.
Love breeds happiness and making fun of someone's love momentarily takes that happiness away from them; no one enjoys being made fun of. Telling your friend who bought his girlfriend flowers that he's whipped is conditioning him to avoid those negative comments by not buying flowers again. Small comments are seemingly harmless because most people just shake off the teasing that is tossed at them for acts of love. Yet, a little criticism can go a long way. You don't know how you are affecting someone you are teasing. They may act as if they don't mind, but it could be making them feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about something so pure and innate. Love shaming is, essentially, a specific form of bullying.
I'm not saying a friendly tease at the couple who just kissed is going to destroy the world. I'm just asking you to think twice about any type of love that you're making fun of. Love is not shameful, love is not disgraceful but solely and purely beautiful. Love is beyond human. And it should be cherished and appreciated and respected. I love, love, and I am not ashamed.