Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Daughter, the Cow

A shadchan is on the phone. He has some basic questions, and I answer them all. I'm feeling good. This is a well known shadchan, and he sought me out. As he should. My daughter is a great girl, and he's lucky to have her on his list. He wants her resume, and I promise to email it to him as soon as I'm off the phone.

Then he asks for a picture.

"A picture?" I ask, naively. "What for?"

"Some people ask for one."

That's pretty standard, apparently. At least according to him. But...a picture? What does a picture tell you? She's a human being, and one would think that should make it different than a cattle sale. There's so much more to her than what the picture would show. It just doesn't feel right to me. And I tell him that.

"I have nothing to hide," I say. "My daughter is beautiful, and anyone you ask about her would say that. It just seems so degrading. If someone insists on a picture, let me know, and maybe I'll send one then. But I'd like to know who's asking."

He understands. I don't send the picture.

And I never hear from him again.


It is now a year later, and a shadchan is on the phone.

"Does your daughter have any weddings coming up soon?"

I'm not sure. I'd need to check with her. And I'm wondering why a shadchan would want to know that.

"Remember I suggested a name a while ago?"

I do remember. It had sounded like a good idea, but I learned a lot in the last year. I'm smarter now. I want the boys' parents to do their research first, and if it sounds good to them, I'll look into it. I told that to the shadchan then, and when several weeks passed without hearing from her, I assumed it went where so many other shidduch suggestions go.

But she's on the phone now...so maybe not. I allow myself to hope for a minute.

"They're still dragging their feet," she tells me. "I want them to take a look at her at a wedding or something. I think that might help."

Take a look at her...

If the picture idea sounded bad to me, this should be sounding even worse. Take a look at her... Like an appraisal. Or an evaluation. This is sounding more and more like a cattle sale. 

I hate it.

But...I learned a lot in the last year.

I ask my daughter about upcoming weddings. She seems to be running out to weddings and all the time. I'm sure there's something.

There isn't. Not for the next month.

"There must be something! What about a vort?"

Nothing.

"Chinese auction?" I'm sounding desperate.

I call the shadchan back. I tell her about the wedding coming up in a month, but I promise to call her if anything comes up sooner than that.

So the mother of this boy will be joining the other women who stand around the edges of the room, watching the single girls dance. They will analyze and assess and inspect, and then make a judgment. If a girl strikes their fancy, they will find out who she is. It will be no different than any other wedding, really. Just another cattle sale.

I hereby invite all of you out there to this wedding next month - no formal invitation necessary. Come take a look at the single girls. My daughter is the pretty one in the black dress. It's elegant and stylish, but not too trendy. Completely tzniusdik, but not nerdy. I can show you some pictures, so you recognize her. Just come and look at her. Please.

I learned a lot in the last year.

23 comments:

  1. So sad how people are so into the looks, right? I mean, anyone can dress or undress the part....

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  2. The whole concept of a picture gets me into a rant every time its mentioned!

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  3. I also can't stand a picture. I did a picture once, but never heard back from the shadchan. I was also once almost "looked over," but it was put to me more as "the mother wants to meet you" which I could hear more.

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  4. It's really sad what is going on in the world of shidduchim but like you said, you learned a lot in a year.

    B"H I was lucky enough not to have to experience the "inspection" but I don't like the sound of it!

    And the black dress, how will I ever figure out which one is your daughter?! :-D

    Keep in mind that your daughter's shidduch has been decided by the Master Shadchan, along with the time that she is meant to meet him. May that time come very soon! Your future son in law is gonna be one lucky guy!!

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  5. Its 'The Real Anonymous' from the 'supply and demand' post, checking back in, this time with a profile 'in order to climb the totem pole'

    I just felt compelled to say this after that whole back and forth that we had @ that other post.

    The 'real ben torah', the one who ur prepared to sacrifice ur daughter and ur standards to, a picture wouldnt be their # 1 priority. That sounds more like the 'evil working man' that BY teaches to avoid at all costs.

    Once again, hoodwinked by the system :)

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  6. WHAT? That is completely insane. I am happy to say that I did not go through the system to get married and I am sorry that you have to. I wish people could get away with it. So sad to hear what is important to parents "in the field". Really depressing to see how low G-d's children and judaism has fallen...

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  7. Why does the *mother* need to look her over? I can see (though I don't like the idea) why the son might want to see her/a pic before going out, but what do her looks matter to the mother?

    My brother-in-law did ask me once if I'd mind if he showed a picture of me to a prospective date. That would be one thing, but I think it is wrong (and untznius if it is a male shadchan) for a shadchan to require one.

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  8. If you really have a problem with it, don't go along with it! There's so much more to a person than their looks. Just as they (shadchanim) trust your description of your daughter's character, they should trust your description of her looks. If they can't do that, they should at least meet your daughter personally so they see what she's all about, instead of reducing her to a picture and a resume.

    I can't believe that degrading yourself is considered the hishtadlus necessary to find a shidduch. Harbei Shluchim La'Makom...

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  9. Teardrop Warrior...

    Actually, no. Anyone can't just dress the part. Unless they are a beautiful size 2.

    aminspiration...

    Go ahead...rant! I need some good reasons not to call that shadchan back and offer a picture.

    MusingMaidel...

    This one is also "the mother wants to meet you". But that's just this one. There are so many more at every wedding that we aren't told about.

    Devorah...

    Yes, it has. You're right. Thank you for reminding me.
    Amen, and thank you!

    Burnt Dreadlocks...

    Ah...but that's where you're wrong. True, it wouldn't necessarily be a ben Torah's priority, but it's not the ben Torah we're worried about now. It's the ben Torah's mother! We have to get past the mothers first.

    thelogofiles...

    The system when I got married was so different than it is today. It seems to be getting crazier every year. I wonder what it'll be like when my grandchildren are getting married.

    Anonymous...

    The shadchan asked for one in case a mother of a boy wanted to see it...not for himself. And, like I said before, it's all about the mothers.

    SIR...

    I didn't. But it's really not as simple as that. Maybe if I'd have sent the picture, I would have gotten some suggestions from him. So I made a point, but who ends up hurting?

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  10. I don't think of it as making a point. I think of it as protecting the dignity of your daughter. If you feel like sending a picture and having her shown off at weddings is comparable to selling cattle, then why would you do it? Why can't the shadchan just meet her and see for himself?

    I've sent pictures, even though I didn't like it, but I don't think I ever sent to someone who hadn't seen me first.

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  11. SIR...

    That is how I feel, and that's why I didn't send it. But I'm wondering if going with my feelings about it is hurting my daughter's chances.
    If the shadchan already met you, why does he need the picture? If it's to be able to show it to the guys...or the moms of the guys...then why does it matter that he met you first?

    Burnt Dreadlocks...

    Absolutely. What's your point?

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  12. The idea being that a mother like that says something. That is the sort of superficial education he has received.

    Someone like you, raising her kids with 'true torah values' would never request such a thing. Your kids, raised in such a surrounding, therefore understand the superficiality of such a request, and probably would not do such a thing.

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  13. Burnt Dreadlocks...

    I'd love to agree with you...but I can't. I know too many mothers who are like that, and they are really nice, normal people in every other way. I have a relative who will not go into any shidduch without first seeing a picture, and she is going to "demand a lot" (her words) for her son.
    But I really don't think this affects the sons. They are completely out of the picture until the girl passes their mother's inspection. And, like I said, in every other way, they are perfectly reasonable people.

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  14. I don't think I'd call them "perfectly reasonable"--in your personal relationships, they may have acted that way towards you--but obviously, within their personal sphere they have a need to maintain a certain image, control, or perfection in their lives.

    I can imagine it being somewhat difficult to have a woman like that as an in-law--always having to live up to certain standards/image. She may "demand a lot" but I don't know that it's worth it. My father was talking to a friend of his "in the know" with a very well known yeshiva/kollel community (no, not Lakewood!) and he said there are so many young married couples/husbands with anxiety, depression, and all sorts of issues because of demanding/controlling rich father-in-laws. Lots of shalom bayis problems, too.


    Like I said before, why does the mother need to see the girl, if it's just about her and not her son's opinion?

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  15. When I was dating my husband my mother warned me that he would not buy the cow if he could get the milk for free. So it would seem that we are all cows. While initial attraction is important it seems that exterior beauty is affected by personality. Does a future mother in law's beauty count at all in the shidduch process?

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  16. I think mothers forget that they are looking for a wife who will make their son happy, not customizing a new model (perfect) daughter.

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  17. Anon...

    Doesn't everyone try to maintain a certain image?
    She's demanding a lot, but she's not the one who will be the difficult in-law. It's the things she's demanding that may make it difficult for her son. Such as the wealthy father-in-law.

    frozenchallah...

    Future mother-in-law's beauty? Lol...scary thought.

    SIR...

    Well said!

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  18. I sometimes dabble in shidduchim, and I do ask for a picture if I never met the girl in person, but only for me, so that I can describe her semi-accurately. I don't pass on the picture unless prior permission is received.

    This whole thing with pictures is overated. most people look way different (usually better) in person, anyway.

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  19. Soul Comfort...

    You dabble in shidduchim?? I have a daughter! :-)

    If you don't pass it on...I guess that's different.

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  20. I meet girls, and I ask them for a picture to help me remember one from another.

    I've also gone to weddings to look at girls for my sons, and yes, you can get a certain amount of insight from seeing someone - eidelkeit, simchas hachaim, trendiness or lack thereof, things that you can see much more clearly than others can describe them.

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  21. I am in FULL agreement on the way the system is messed up, the way girls are sometimes trivialized, objectified, taken advantage of financially, how the most amazing girls can fall through the cracks while the male counterparts dabble over the pick of the litter.

    However, I'm not sure I have such a problem with the picture per se. I recently helped my daughter fill out her camp application. They asked for a picture. And that's just to be a junior counselor. It's not that looks are all that matter, it's just that in the entire "resume" process, as both sides are doing research, with REAL emotion at stake, what is so terrible if a visual reference can be obtained? I think a picture is far less intrusive that the spectacle you describe where the girls are lined up and ogled as they are dancing at a wedding. THAT is weird. At least a picture is done in a controlled environment, and the girls has control of how she looks, who get's it, etc.

    As usual, thanks for the post!

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