My daughter recently entered shidduchim, and I find myself increasingly livid that girls are expected to send pictures of themselves to the boy’s family or – worse – the boy himself.
When I was dating, no one needed a picture. When a friend or relative told the boy (or his mother) that the girl was cute or good-looking, it was sufficient. Do we demand proof – say, a report card – that a boy is a good learner or that a girl works hard? No, we trust the person setting them up. The boy and girl can get a deeper appreciation of each other while dating.
Why, then, are looks an exception? Why must that be proven? Pressure to provide a photo makes many a girl feel awful. It only adds to her gnawing sense that she is a commodity, not a person with a neshama.
Besides, who looks at these pictures? I’m told only boys’ mothers look at them, but if so, the whole arrangement strikes me as a little creepy. Do mothers know what their sons find attractive? And if boys are looking at the pictures, how is it tzenu’ah for a young man to stare at picture after picture of dolled-up girls?
The truth is that pictures often don’t even properly capture a person as he or she comes across in real life. I know I, for one, would have hesitated to go out with my husband had I seen a picture of him beforehand.
I’ve heard that some mothers want to see a picture of the girl to ensure that she is tzenuah. But that hardly makes sense since anyone can dress as tniusly as she needs to for a snapshot.
So why, then, do we demand pictures? What’s the worst that can happen if a boy goes out without seeing a picture and then discovers that he is not attracted to the girl despite the great recommendation he received? At least, many girls who are not getting dates in our picture-only world would be able to get them and gain untold confidence in the process.
Obviously, once they meet, the boy will see the girl. I’m not suggesting that girls be hidden. But there is a proper way to redt shidduchim that maintains the dignity of our daughters.
Many have suggested that I just get on board – that there’s no use in fighting the inevitable. But I’m taking a stand. It’s not right. Where will this end – with requiring girls to provide full-body photos (which, by the way, is already starting to happen)?
I refuse to submit a picture of my daughter for shidduchim, and I ask others to join me. I can’t do this alone. I call upon mothers and fathers to stand with me. If you have a daughter in shidduchim, don’t provide a picture. If you have a son, tell the other party that you do not want to see a picture. Rabbis and rebbetzins, please lecture about more respectful ways to set people up.
Finally, shadchanim: Please rethink how you operate. I know your parnassah currently revolves around sending families picture-bedecked resumes, but if we all band together, we can change the way we approach shidduchim, which certainly will be a tremendous zechus for all of us – especially singles hoping to soon stand under a chuppah.