Dear Dating Coach,
If one more shadchan asks for my picture, I am going to lose my mind! Why are the boys so focused on looks and why do shadchanim and others allow this to go on? I thought with all the attention given to pictures on resumes, this madness would stop! Since it hasn’t, I keep saying that I will not send a photo and many have declined to move forward. Their loss! To judge the suitability of a future based on a picture is ludicrous! Please tell everyone that pictures are baseless and shallow and help me find the right words to refuse to send one!
The first time I went horseback riding, the instructor asked “beginner or intermediate?” Of course, since I had never ridden a horse before, I chose “intermediate.” (Let’s pretend it was a vocabulary deficiency versus a total lack of common sense.) The white horse Diablo (also wish I spoke any Spanish then) looked perfectly passive and sweet. I climbed on, and off we went at a reasonable trot. Suddenly, a car backfired nearby, and Diablo took off like a shot. Hanging on for dear life, we flew along the path, faster and faster. “Pull on the reigns the instructor yelled, but my fear produced a weak grip. “PULL ON THE REIGNS!” everyone shouted, and I did. Hard. The horse stopped. I learned two things that day; Diablo was no angel, and if you want to be an intermediate, you need to take control.
I hear your frustration, and I understand your reluctance to participate in the sharing of pictures. You worry that this sets you up to be judged solely on appearance versus who you are as a whole person. You feel like this cheapens you and the dating experience, and dislike having your likeness assessed by boys and their mothers. You understand that attraction matters, but believe that a picture sets the foundation for dating “on the surface.”
There are many who agree with you. You can write letters and vent and take countless polls on this subject from your friends and family. I’m sure we can all agree that asking for a picture doesn’t stem from a deep desire to connect emotionally with someone prior to a date. It does however, lend itself to reality and practicality in this difficult world of dating. Yes, there is an element of superficiality, but there is a certain pragmatic quality as well. Furthermore, most mothers are looking for someone who looks kind and has a beautiful smile; “a nice face,” they say. They are not looking for supermodels.
Moreover, in this day and age, finding a picture of someone is not difficult. When you don’t agree to give one, they will likely search for one another way. A camp photo that their second cousin’s neighbor has where you are singing, mouth open, splattered in paint from color war. A sleepy school picture that makes you look like you have narcolepsy, or a group shot from a vort where you are chewing the last of your spring roll.
Instead of becoming worked up and losing out on potentially wonderful guys who you discount because they asked for a picture, take control. Put on an outfit that gives you confidence, do your hair the way you love, and have a professional photo taken. When they ask, send the picture that honors you and celebrates you at your best and know that this is a part of your hishtadlus. This is you refusing to let anything stand in your way. This is you taking the reins in shidduchim, making a photo work for you, and finding your bashert.