We are blessed to have a wonderful 19-year-old girl in the parsha. We get redd shidduchim quite a bit and hope to soon find the right one.
We attached a picture of our daughter to her résumé. In the photo, she is elegantly dressed for a friend’s chasunah. Very often, we receive requests from the boy’s parents for “a more casual photo.” We feel that this request is outrageous. What is the opinion of the experts?
First and foremost, I strongly believe that it must be stated that the practice of asking for pictures of young women for the purposes of shidduchim is not only highly inappropriate, to put it mildly, but also counter to every lesson of tznius that is promulgated throughout Klal Yisroel. Most frum publications will not even publish pictures of sheitel heads or female children, let alone pictures of women, and yet bnos yisroel are expected to freely send professional grade pictures of themselves for prospective shidduchim to ogle? What does it say about our priorities as yiddin if demanding a picture is the starting point for a shidduch?
This is especially problematic in today’s era of technology where such pictures can be instantaneously shared, and many bachurim have collections of pictures of young women on their phones or computers. A new reality which has been confirmed by many shadchanim, as well menahalim in BMG and other yeshivos. It is one thing to track down a yearbook picture or take notice of a single at a chasunah, but to expect that the young women themselves should take part in sharing pictures of themselves, knowing that a yes or a no for a date may be dependent on how they look in a picture, is absolutely inappropriate.
Not to mention that the true beauty and chayn of a bas yisroel cannot possibly be conveyed in a still picture. For families to make decisions based off of such pictures is, in actuality, highly counterproductive to their own goals in asking for them to begin with. I have no doubt that countless happily married couples from previous generations would never have found their bshert’s if they were relying on pictures to make their decisions from the start. For centuries Klal Yisroel has successfully married off their children without the use of pictures. Even in the recent past where Jewish communities were spread far apart and there was travel required, there was a level of trust so that a picture was not required. If a young man went on a date and felt that the physical attraction was lacking, he did not feel “burned” by the shadchan, he simply moved on to look into other shidduchim. This is part of the hishtadlus required in getting married.
I have had personal conversations regarding this topic with HaRav Shmuel and HaRav Shalom Kamenetsky, shlita, along with many other respected rabbonim, and not a single one has had a positive word to say about this practice. It would be truly shocking to hear that this recent practice, which seems to be the antithesis of kedusha and taharah, has emulated from a place of daas Torah.
That being said, I do understand that due to the pressures of the current shidduch system, and the fear that a young woman will simply be unable to get a yes for a date, without sharing a picture, that families feel compelled to supply a picture along with a profile. That is a personal decision, and one that for many should be made along with the advice of their rav, to decide if this should be part of their hishtadlus. Within such a decision, while I agree with you 100% that asking for yet more pictures that might convey a different vibe, or asking for a full length picture, is in fact outrageous, if that is what you feel is needed to get a yes for your daughter for a shidduch that she is interested in, and I feel horrible saying this, perhaps it is worth sending the picture. That is a decision and judgement that you must make on your own, and again, probably based on the advice of your rav and personal confidants.
It is my fervent tefilah that this practice be discontinued as soon as possible, and that we may restore another piece of dignity for the bnos yisroel, many of whom are already under almost unmanageable stress as they enter shidduchim.