Down With The Bears
An Opinion on Stuffed Animals
by Jini Seok
Jewellery, chocolates, flowers, and stuffed animals – the classic Valentine’s Day gift ideas amongst couples. Of course, any gift from anybody is kind and should be received with gratitude because, well, it’s the thought that really counts. As someone who has treated Valentine’s Day just as any other, you’d think I shouldn’t have an opinion on it, but every year on the fateful day, I reflect on the should and shouldn’ts of this very overrated “holiday”. And, based on what I’ve seen people buy and receive as gifts…don’t buy me a stuffed animal.
Have I received many stuffed animals in the past? Yes. I loved stuffed animals growing up; I named every single one and displayed them all over my room. Even now, when I walk past them in a store I always comment on how cute they are, and I can’t help but pick one up to see how soft it is. But do I want to buy it? Absolutely not. What purpose do they serve? I understand (to a certain degree) if you enjoy collectable items from a particular brand of stuffed animals and therefore would appreciate somebody buying one for you, such as a Squishmellow that gained a lot of popularity in recent years or a JellyCat. Therefore, buying one as a gift for someone who collects such items would make sense. However, the kind of stuffed animals that I am talking about are the ones that sit in the Valentine section of Walmart or one of those many generic dolls that they sell in a shopping mall.
I just think there are many other good options for a gift other than a ball of fluff wrapped inside a piece of fabric in the shape of an anatomically incorrect bear. For instance, a surprise cup of coffee, or s0me food from your significant other’s favourite restaurant. Really, anything edible is a great option, at least in my opinion. But a stuffed animal? I can’t eat it, read it, listen to it, all I can do is look at it. And unless I can gain some sort of spiritual enlightenment or learn the secrets of the universe from peering into its plastic eyes, I’d rather watch Netflix. Overall, the generic stuffed animal is lacking in almost all the departments of a good gift: practicality, sentimental value, and creativity.
Maybe there’s something more to it that my cold heart is missing, but I can’t see how a five-dollar doll holding an “I Love You” heart-shaped sign is the best way to convey one’s emotions. The stuffed animal is most likely going to find a home in the corner of the room, make friends with the dust bunnies, then eventually become besties with the clothes in the donation bin outside of the Walmart it was purchased from. The circle of life is funny that way. So, for this year’s Valentine’s Day gift, let’s move forward as a society and boycott the cheaply made stuffed animals that don’t do much for anybody.