Girls in shidduchim seem to be asked for pictures of themselves all the time by shadchanim and others, and not just a picture, but a “nice one” and a “casual one.” As a girl in shidduchim, I am perplexed. What has the world come to? Last I checked, there are no pictures of women and girls in Torah publications, like the Yated, so why is it suddenly okay to send pictures of girls all over the place for the sake of shidduchim? And, as an aside, why aren’t boys required to submit their pictures?
So as to remain abundantly clear, and in an effort to prevent the most essential portion of the message from being obscured amidst sesquipedalian musings, I would like to make myself as patently plain as possible with pertinence to the particular problems presented.
1. It is unquestionably not okay that young women are relentlessly and unabashedly implored to share not merely a picture, but often many pictures, as an antecedent to receiving a yes for a date, as if it were nothing more than a trifling entreaty. Over the course of many conversations on the topic, I have yet to hear even one Rav or Rosh Yeshiva endorse this novelty which has so surreptitiously surfaced, and subsequently ensconced itself in Klal Yisroel, and I cannot conceive of any rationale whatsoever that would validate it as morally appropriate, or approbate it as in keeping with Torahdike praxis.
2. In so far as this request certainly seems to have become so routine and familiar that many do not even expend a second thought prior to asking a single woman for her picture, if there is any practical merit at all to the practice – in the form of granting daters the option to evaluate the promise of a shidduch from an entirely external perspective (an argument which I personally believe to be dubious and tenuous at most, as physical attraction is inextricably linked to interpersonal chemistry, which cannot be conveyed in a static image) – I see no reason, then, why the single men should not be reciprocating, quid-pro-quo.
In point of fact, if a picture is what a single man needs in order to discern whether or not a single woman appears to adequately satisfy “the look” he so desires, would a young woman not need the same? To the best of my knowledge, the importance of physical attraction is a two-way street, and if being bestowed with a visual before even consenting to a date is so paramount as to be ordained a necessity, indeed, everyone should be in receipt of one.
That said, and not to detract in any way from the indecorousness that is profile pictures being passed about like aufruf candy to children, we remain faced with another dilemma, and one that is perhaps even more exigent. Namely, when one is asked, should or shouldn’t they remit a picture, for the purposes of procuring or securing a date? And if we are to fully attend to the issue, we must pragmatically take into account the implications of nonparticipation in commonplace conventions.
As such, being that the exercise has emerged as rather standard – irrespective of its being so very uncouth – the reality we are then confronted with is, quite simply put, that those who adamantly abstain from acquiescing to the appeal may be conspicuously jeopardizing their dating opportunities. It is a fine line between judiciously holding fast to one’s ideologies in a responsible fashion, and being hoist on one’s own petard as a result of brash, righteous indignation. Consequently, one must endeavor to honestly measure and weigh the potential repercussions of standing on principle, against that which is being positively achieved.
To that end, I believe there are three primary questions regarding the subjects at hand which one must ask themselves, before deciding on a course of action.
Firstly, does one feel so strongly about the matter that they firmly believe if a young man solicits a picture it is inherently indicative of that fellow having hashkafos which are divaricated from, and incongruous with, one’s own value-sets, thus rendering the candidate unsuitable?
Secondly, if the ask, in and of itself, does not equate to the shidduch being a nonstarter, does one feel that they are being supplied with sufficient suggestions, without having to offer a picture, to the degree that they can afford to dispense with and forgo those prospects which will be lost without providing one?
Lastly, and although it pains me to to say it, in its current state, I believe the realm of shidduchim is largely a guy’s world. And so, despite the absurdity of this final consideration, I believe one must assess whether or not a potentially auspicious opportunity might be squandered, owing to their stipulating that a return picture be issued, and whether that is a risk worth taking, for the sake of maintaining their dignity and preserving their self-worth.
Once one has given due deliberation to these factors, and any others which are deemed apropos, they should be able make a final determination that is rooted not solely in an impassioned – though thoroughly justified – cri-de-coeur, but in sound and sensible reflection of all germane gains and relevant ramifications.
May the Darcho Emunah see that we are able to truly be misdabek b’drachav, and fully employ the middah of hatzneia leches in all areas of our lives.