Made up holidays get a lot of flack, but this is one we can get behind. February 13th, Galentine's Day, is all about your most important platonic relationships—your BFFs.
Back in 2010, Parks and Recreation delivered unto us the greatest holiday in modern history: Galentine's Day, a celebration of female friendship (and frittatas) that preceded the dreaded February 14. Ultimately, it was Valentine's Day but for best pals, and therefore trumped the traditional Hallmark celebrations, tenfold.
A few years later, one of my best friends and I decided to embrace Galentine's Day for ourselves. We went out for dinner, drank too many martinis (this was before I stopped drinking), and broke down the many reasons why the guys we had crushes on at the time were clearly the wrong choices. Then, the next year we added another pal. And while some of us (hi!) were getting over a wicked stomach flu, the three of us still opted to spend the night snacking and bowling and making jokes about Drake. Valentine's Day proper would be reserved for Netflix and chips, as all reasonable winter nights should be. February 14 was officially Just Another Evening™. Bless.
Of course, there's been a lot of emphasis on the merits of female friendships lately, especially in pop culture. Through 2015 and 2016, Taylor Swift used her commercialized brand of feminism to prioritize sisterhood over female-centric competition, but her redefinition of #SquadGoals—via social media and red carpet appearances—became increasingly demonstrative. Especially as the likes of her July 4 parties became a who's who of trending names on Twitter, she cast every famous woman alive in her "Bad Blood" video (a song allegedly written about her feud with Katy Perry) and used her message of unity when it was convenient. (Like when she thought Nicki Minaj was starting something with her … which wasn't the case. Yikes.)
But the thing is, picture-perfect friendships aren't realistic. Friendships in real life are as flawed and messy as they are nurturing and unifying, but that's what makes them so wonderful. A 2011 study by Concordia University proved that those with a wide network of friends have lower stress levels, boast stronger immune systems, and tend to live longer, while a Wilfrid Laurier graduate co-authored a paper on how friendships improve if you recognize and respect your pal's introversion, social irritants, or even triggers. (In short: if you understand and celebrate that your friends aren't like you/are actual people, your friendships will be fulfilling.)
Which obviously makes sense. Because even though pop culture has scaled back the woman-on-woman hate, the superficiality behind seemingly perfect female friendships is just as damaging. Real friends argue, disagree, and aren't an exercise in twinning, thank whatever-higher-power-you-believe-in. Instead, they reflect the values we saw with Ann and Leslie in Parks and Recreation, or the dynamic between Rosa and Amy on Brooklyn Nine-Nine right now, or the dysfunction between Selina and Amy on Veep. Real female friendship isn't painted with the Valencia filter or measured by height in formalwear at an industry event. Real female friendship is bowling in a snowstorm and making jokes about Aubrey Graham, or doing the opposite and sitting in someone's apartment in silence.
Late last year, my uncle died and I spent the day I found out about it debating whether or not I wanted to keep plans with a pal that night. But after I warned her that I looked terrible and felt nauseous and wasn't sure if I'd be super fun to hang out with and was for sure wearing too much fleece, she reminded me that nobody cares about the bags under my eyes, and roaming the mall might be an exercise in distraction. Which it was. It wasn't Instagrammable, but that's the point: the realest moments in friendship are the ones that simply exist.
Which is something I think we're starting to understand more and more, especially as we see the social currency of celebrity supergroups begin to plummet. So now under the umbrella of Galentine's Day, we've begun to expand our scope to celebrate the complexities of female friendship and the imperfections that make each of them so special. Whether it's hanging out on February 13 and talking about everything that's gone terribly wrong, or making jokes in the mall on an otherwise very sad day.