As a shadchan who has her own opinions about whether pictures should be shared when a shidduch is redd, I must point out that I have found, unequivocally, that the ones driving the need for pictures are not the boys, but their mothers. In almost every case, the boy is not involved in the process whatsoever at that point. In fact, among the boys I have spoken to, every single one said that they’d be willing to go out without a picture being given.
So, let’s first stop blaming the boys for the picture issue, when it’s their mothers who are to blame.
Also, how am I to make sense of the fact that the very same mothers asking for pictures of the girls redd to their son give me a hard time when I ask them for a picture of their daughter?
Regarding the debasement that is pictures of single women being passed about as if they were nothing more than trivial fodder, I believe the blame rests not on any one individual entity but, rather, on the collective group that is all of us who constitute frum society. That is, it is a Klal Yisroel issue. Indeed, within a community that has hoisted the attribute of unimpeachable levels of tznius on the highest of pedestals, it remains inconceivable to me that we have contemporaneously allowed it to become standard operating procedure for women to pose for full-length, professional-grade photographs, which are inevitably gawked at and analyzed by any number of known and unknown entities.
Furthermore, given the undeniable reality that once any piece of information is converted to electronic format it becomes inherently undying, it is only all the more incomprehensible that we consider it appropriate for pictures of single women to be disseminated throughout a vast and endless electronic universe, over which no one can claim to posses even the slightest modicum of control. To whit, we constantly, and rightly, issue regular warnings to our youth about the critical need to be impeccably circumspect vis-à-vis what they should or should not be sharing in electronic communication. And yet, when it comes to shidduchim, this admonition is oddly excluded.
Consequently, and despite any perceived practical value ascribed to the sharing of pictures for the sake of shidduchim (which I would argue is, in actuality, erroneous), I believe there are far more important questions which we really ought to be asking ourselves: Why is it that such a practice has so insidiously become commonplace, and what exactly is it that we are all doing to contribute to the breach of our otherwise high standards and the dignity of our dating men and women.
That said, as far as encountering cognitive dissonance emerging from those with both sons and daughters in shidduchim, I believe such is simply human nature. We tend to both exert and resist leverage, wherever and whenever we can, and even when the two stand in stark contradiction or opposition of one another. In fact, this phenomenon can be so engrained in the psyche that it is not unusual for one to be completely unaware that they are exhibiting plainly conflicting stances.
In some cases, this paradoxical behavior can be politely presented, and a civil discourse can be held in order to achieve mutual appreciation of the incongruous attitudes at play. When civil dialogue is possible, positive outcomes can be attained and change can be made. However, in other cases, bringing the topic to the fore only serves to invite contention and dissatisfaction. Accordingly, each circumstance must be carefully evaluated based on the comportment and relationship of all parties involved, and only then can a decision be made as to whether there is any value in calling attention to this obvious disconnect in expectations.
May the Shomer Yisroel aid us all in reinstituting a much needed measure of nobility across the expansive landscape that is the world of shidduchim.