How a Valentine’s Day Pop-up Shop Taught New Yorkers How to Love Better

#LoveBetter
Photo courtesy of One Love Foundation

We are never taught how to love or how to know if we are being loved correctly. We are never taught how to seek help in abusive relationships or what do when we are in a relationship where the only thing we feel is negativity.

The One Love Foundation strives to show us that love should be a transformational force that guides communities every day. It is important that we evaluate our relationships to make sure the love we are receiving is healthy and positive.

Today, speaking about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships is uncommon. As Valentine’s Day season comes to an end, we can see that while it is supposed to be the day of love, support, and respect, in reality it is a booming multimillion-dollar industry. How, as a society, are we supposed to shine a light on the true meaning of love, when the international holiday of love really just seems to be a business?

Located on the corner of Bowery and Prince Street in Manhattan, New York, Love Better was a Valentine’s Day pop-up shop run by the One Love Foundation that specifically explored the idea of healthy and unhealthy relationships.

From the outside, Love Better looked like it could be like every other Valentine’s Day store. The glass exterior allowed you to see into the shop, which was lined with pink walls, hearts, and balloons. But the moment you stepped inside, it was obvious that the store was much more than this.

Cameron Kinker, the foundation’s engagement coordinator explains, “We envisioned this pop-up as a way where people would come in and expect to buy a Valentine’s Day gift, but instead, they see all of these items that have signs of unhealthy behaviors. We want to call attention to a lot of the unhealthy behaviors normalized in our relationships today.”

As customers walked in to buy gifts, they became surprised by the items on display. They could find a teddy bear that said, “Shut up…wait, I’m sorry. That wasn’t the real me,” or a chocolate box with the words, “I love you, but maybe you should watch your weight.” The teddy bear exemplifies a relationship where one person acquires mood swing, and the chocolate box represents a relationship in which one person shows a complete lack of respect. Both are lessons for how to love better. Instead of giving presents, the best gift is having a simple conversation, showing that mindfulness is more impactful than any materialistic item

In 2010, 22-year-old Yeardley Love was killed by her ex-boyfriend while the two were attending the University of Virginia. In her memory, her family created the One Love Foundation. The foundation helps to educate people about healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors. Through education, One Love serves as a platform to empower survivors in similar situations and make people aware of their occurrences. In Yeardley’s case, it was only discovered after her passing that her relationship was abusive.   The people around her were never taught what the signs of an unhealthy relationship were nor what to do about them.

Horrific cases of this nature are why it is tremendously important for us to be able to open up to one another and listen to each other. In order to prevent these cases from happening again, we need to be supportive, listen, and communicate with everyone, because people do really care even if they haven’t yet been taught how to respond.

Communities are in desperate need of more campaigns like #LoveBetter. If everyone were to educate themselves about the signs of a healthy relationship or the things they could do to #Lovebetter, kindness would sweep the world. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship.

If you or anyone you know is in an unhealthy relationship, please visit https://www.joinonelove.org/get-help/ to speak to a trained expert advocate and learn what resources are available to you.

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Brooke Goldman

Brooke Goldman, 15, is a sophomore at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in NYC. This past summer, she traveled throughout Alaska to film a documentary about Alaska's small village of Newtok's relocation. She co-founded a nonprofit organization with her sister Ava, CLIMIGRATE.ORG. Brooke is also a U.S.O. volunteer at JFK airport where she greets veterans and active duty soldiers and their families. In middle school, she enjoyed composing music with the New York Philharmonic, and she currently still has a love for music in the form of her ukelele and guitar.

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