Monday, July 4, 2011

Some Talk About Pictures

Let’s talk about pictures.

And by that, I don’t mean taking pictures. There are numerous places online to find a wide variety of photography advice; this isn’t one of them.

I refer, naturally, to the infamous shidduch picture. One might consider this picture a mere part of the larger scale self depreciating device commonly known as the shidduch resume, but I beg to differ. After all, the two don’t have to go hand in hand.

Or do they?

I will attempt to be impartial in the following discussion, despite my strong feelings about the issue.

Let’s talk first about people who insist upon a picture. As one single male put it: “When I travel far for a date, I insist on seeing a picture first, that way I know she won’t be DOA.” Now, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong (and I’m sure plenty will,) but that seems to be serious objectification of women. If she’s pretty, but incredibly stupid, the date won’t be DOA?

On the other hand, it’s hard to know in advance if your date will be a blithering idiot. Sure, you can ask people, but your information will only be as accurate as the honesty level of the people you speak with. A picture, however, never lies. Or does it?

Let’s leave aside Photoshop for a minute, and discuss the picture itself. Almost anyone, no matter how fat, ugly, pimply or otherwise blemished they may be, can get themselves made up, find a decent photographer, get the coloring all right, and manage to get an unedited (technically, anyway) photo of themselves. Let’s talk this scenario through. A young man and his ever scrupulous mother receive the picture of a lovely looking young woman. All of the other information seems to check out, and the date is arranged.

The day arrives and the young man gets his first glance of the woman he thought he’d seen a picture of. The full talents of the photographer sink in, as the man spends the rest of the date trying to figure out how the girl in front of him managed to look the way she did in the picture. You might say that this case sounds extreme, even blown out of proportion, but the issue is the same. How many non-photogenic, yet beautiful girls get passed over from the pictures?

I’ve conceded partially on the resume issue. I will, however skeptically and unhappily, send a list of references and other basic facts about myself (and by facts, I don’t mean opinions) to any interested parties. But I draw the line at opinions…and pictures. My mother might sneak one to people on occasion, but I haven’t knowingly sent one. I don’t think I am that ugly that nobody would look in my direction, but I just don’t think that me and everything I am and represent can be properly conveyed by a bunch of pixels patched together on a piece of paper. I’m not married yet, or even engaged, so perhaps my strategy is faulty, but I won’t budge. Not on this.

And if you can’t deal with it, don’t date me.

Many don't. I can handle it.


Mystery Woman said...

I used to feel exactly the same way you do about pictures (of my daughter, that is). But I caved.
I still feel the same, but I'm doing what I gotta do.
Would you like a picture? Anyone? :)

mmmmchocolate :-) said...

I agree with what you've written- but eventually my parents and I gave in as well. My parents had two single daughters (now both happily married) and they just stopped fighting it. You can't fight an entire tide of change. It isn't right- but like so many things that aren't right- it just is. My parents realized that by being super stubborn about pictures people assumed my sister and I were unattractive- so they caved and gave it out. My husband didn't see my picture until after a date or two- and said it didn't do the real me justice. Pictures never do. ::shrug:: it's objectifying, it's painful and it stinks- so does unequal pay between men and women in the workplace. Just chalk it up to one more example of sexism.

Bored Jewish Guy said...

A date being DOA has nothing to do with the girl being bad, so it's not objectifying women at all. It simply means there's no potential for the relationship to work out. That can be b/c of attraction, personality, behavior, or other reasons. You can't necessarily tell if any of those will be a factor in advance, but a picture can certainly help with the attraction part.

I don't think it's fair to expect a guy to spend hundreds of dollars (probably way more) to travel in to date you without knowing what you look like. Going through all that expense and finding that the girl is not the type he's attracted to, which could've been apparent from a picture, is draining.

I think you should give the guys more credit. We know that pictures don't accurately show looks and we take that into account when making a decision. Don't get me wrong, I hate sending pictures, but I do anyway. You can avoid sending a picture maybe, but you're going to limit your options significantly and it's foolish to assume that the guys who will be available w/o sending a picture are better guys.

frum single female said...

i hear what you are saying , but i actually like seeing a picture of someone before i meet him. its not just that i want to make sure that he looks ok to date, its just that its nice to show up to the date and know who it is i will be spending the next few hours with.

Princess Lea said...

Frankly, I don't care about a guy's looks, I care about his personality.

I'll be honest - I clean up pretty good, yet anytime someone has asked for my photo (which got thumbs up from family members or friends) I never end up going out with him.

It's not like only guys from OT ask for photos. Guys who live pretty darn close ask for them as well.

I'm entitled to my opinion, no matter how much guys may explain or clarify. A guy who asks for my photo? I think you are a- well, I suppose I should clean it up . . . jerk.

If I don't need your photo, you don't need mine. Got it?

Anon 99 said...

Hey girls - I think you should all read mmmmchocolate :-)'s post very carefully. Your goal (and guys as well) should be to have as wide as a pool as possible (certainly as you get older). Being stubborn just shrinks the pool and very often, the guy or his mother has no idea that it is even being asked for - that is the shadchan's doing. Your refusal to give a picture, particularly when the request is becoming the norm will lead people to believe 1) you are ugly; and 2) you are stubborn.

You may get married w/o giving the pic and win. But many of you will eventually give in to the sea of change, so why fight it?

BTW - my opinion is that if you request a picture, you should offer one as well. Personally, I never asked for a picture and when helping my brother with his shidduchim I do not ask for one as I think it is wrong.

Princess Lea said...

There are times in life that yes, maybe fighting against a commonly held practice is pointless.

But I find this is different. It's MY dignity that's being violated; and anyone who asks for a photo . . . it shows he's really not proper.

If a shadchan asks for a photo, that is one thing. But if a guy does? How can someone call himself religious and say that he won't go out with a girl unless her looks are worth his time?

Veeeeery spiritual of him.

He's gotta do what I gotta do. Plaster a fake smile on the face, and do what you gotta do, not what you want to do.

lawschooldrunk said...

For the sake of being the devil's advocate:

Lea, if a guy is 4'11, boorish, and stupid, I would bet you would not go out with him.

But "how can someone call [her]self religious and say that [s]he won't go out with a [guy] unless h[is] [height, manners, and intellect] are worth h[er] time?"

On the contrary; the torah requires common sense. Males and females are attracted to different criteria. "If I don't need your photo, you don't need mine. Got it?" No, I don't get it. Sure you're entitled to your opinion, but it sure can be a faulty one. The height you stick your nose in the air will not change the way hashem created males and females.

Princess Lea said...

Lawschool, Lawschool, Lawschool.

If a guy wants to look at a girl before he goes out with her, then pick out one you like the look of at a wedding and start chatting with her. But photos have no place in the world of "blind dates." They're called blind for a reason.

The discussion here was about photos, not other details shared before a date. I am well aware that men likee the looks, but wouldn't you rather find out what a gal looks like from ALL angles, rather than a potentially biased photo?

The fact is, if there are enough girls getting hurt by such requests, the pig can't be kashered. For the sake of sparing a date's feelings I have done A LOT. If someone is hurt, no way can you make it right.

Yedid Nefesh said...

It's known, girls are attracted to the inner qualities of guys while guys are mostly attracted by the exterior. I've tried setting up many of my guy friends and believe me when i say I get very frustrated when they turn the suggestion down because she isn't their look. I just wish sometimes they'd get past it and meet these wonderful girls (whom btw, are generally pretty just not in their sense)
On the other hand, I hear a lot from them about how fed up they are of going out with girls they arent the least bit attracted too and therefore, the next time they are being set up, they will request a picture.
What a shame, so much gets lost in a photograph. And you;re left there thinking how so and so might have had a chance had they been introduced casually