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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And You Thought NASI Was Raising the Price of Shidduchim?!?!

Were they in denial about the qualities young men are seeking in future wives? Yes, it is somewhat disillusioning that men dedicated to full-time Torah learning possess what these girls might perceive are superficial values, but brass tacks: they want a spouse to whom they are attracted. The young men themselves might be too shy or ashamed to admit it, but their mothers won’t hesitate to ask what for some is the deal maker/deal breaker question, namely: “Is she pretty?”

Recently, an acquaintance of mine reported the happy news that her first cousin had become a kallah for the first time at the tender age of forty. “She wowed her chasan with her beauty,” she said. “That’s what gave her an edge over the other women her age.” Then she paused. “Let’s see…she had a nose job….gastric bypass …botox injections….her teeth were capped…..and she wears violet-blue contact lenses…There’s practically nothing about her that’s real!” she laughed. “But…guess what? She’s getting married next month!”

Mothers this is my plea to you: There is no reason in today’s day and age with the panoply of cosmetic and surgical procedures available, why any girl can’t be transformed into a swan. Borrow the money if you have to; it’s an investment in your daughter’s future, her life.

So, my dear sweet mothers who are bristling with indignation at my thesis and feel deeply offended by my proposition: please do not be hurt by what I am suggesting. I truly want to help. If your daughter’s shidduch prospects are being hampered by a flaw or problem that can be banished or remedied, please give her the emotional and financial support to correct it. Yes, I know that we all want to be cherished for who we are inside, but whether we like it or not, appearances do count. And no Yom Tov demonstrates that reality more than Purim.

Goodbye NASI and their meshugas, hello Yitti Halberstam who seeks to raise the price of shidduchim beyond the price of pearls and rubies (those are already on the list of required shidduch gifts anyways!) Now you can add elective surgery into the budget along with shadchanus gelt, the long list of gifts, the big wedding, and the after wedding support/help because as we know "money ain't a thing" and eugenics is a yiddishe maise.

And all this money to buy what? News to the "mothers of boys", your (best) boys aren't all that! Few of them have had much in the way of responsibility. Most of them have yet to pay an electric bill of their own. Since they haven't worked, they haven't had to take on much responsibility or face much frustration. For the most part, they haven't lived at home and needed to uphold responsibilities there either. Chessed hours are girl territory. And, most of the boys will require an even bigger cash infusion after marriage because few of these princes are men. . . . . . .but make sure frumma Barbie is there to accessorize.

Speaking of "mothers of boys," do not these same mothers have daughters of their own? It is simply astounding that these mothers can hate (themselves) and bnot yisrael while worshipping their sons.

And, while I'd like to believe that this is just the rantings of one woman (the Jewish Press did make a choice to publish it), if you've played in the shidduch sandbox long enough you will know that many mothers are either 1) allowing their son's sexual drives to drive the shidduch process without enough torat imecha or 2) super-imposing what the want. . . a great accessory.

For years and years and years I've heard about how exploitative and degrading towards women the outside world is. And yet for all the arguments for a more formalized shidduch system, I can't think of much more exploitative than recent shidduch phenomena, from the myriads of rules, to high priced shidduchim being fed by the "shidduch crisis" and capitalized upon by NASI, to this drivel. My take on the outside world is much more kind. While there are major issues and a shidduch crises of its own brewing as more and more boys are under accomplished, underemployed, and stuck in an adolescent rut, I don't see looks and other superficialities as an the prominent players among those who are marrying and building homes. Ultimately, good marriages are build foundations of friendship, giving, trust, and respect. My overweight or "plain" friends are as likely to be married as my bombshell beautiful friends. If they can give to another person and offer love, companionship, and friendship, they can marry. In a world where first impressions aren't everything, as first impressions need not be last impressions, this isn't particularly surprising.

As I've said before, just when you think a society can't sink lower, something else comes around the bend to make sure that we witness the decent to the 49th level of tumah. One would have thought that this was Purim Torah (has the author ever learned Megillah and commentaries?), but it appears to be more of a redux of our years in mitzrayim, a country where physicality was king and tzniut of spirit was a message unheard.

More on other topics of shidduchim another time.


The Bald Guy said...

I've read this whole article. I'm getting the vague feeling that this article was written tongue in cheek...

Orthonomics said...

One would think. . . . . but where is the disclosure with the comments pouring in?

The Bald Guy said...

I also believe that the following line was edited from the article:
"Mothers this is my plea to you: There is no reason in today’s day and age with the panoply of cosmetic and surgical procedures available, why any girl can’t be transformed into a swan. Borrow the money if you have to; it’s an investment in your daughter’s future, her life."

Anonymous said...

Hopefully it is a spoof - the part about young girls in shidduchim appearing without makeup seems to be a giveaway, since few people besides drag queens wear more makeup than girls "in the parsha" and young married chareidi women.

Zach Kessin said...

I think this is a demonstration of Poe's law which states:

"Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing."

Honestly I don't think it was in any way a spoof, part of me says that based on the writing style there is no way that woman has enough depth to write a spoof.

I kind of think some parts of the community have really jumped the shark!

JS said...

If this isn't meant to be serious, it is probably one of the best spoofs I have ever read in many years.

The fact that it's so hard to tell if it's serious or a spoof speaks volumes.

JS said...

The "frum world" can keep telling themselves that the "outside, secular world" is all about the physical and the sexual - that the outside world only cares about appearances, is wholly immodest, obsessed with sex and pornography, and degrades people by making them sex objects. A quick read of this article shows how far from the truth this is and how debased and sick frum culture is.

The worst part of it is the sheer hypocrisy of it all. The "outside" world doesn't play any games - victoria's secret doesn't pretend it's products are about anything other than looking and feeling attractive and sexual. Advertisers fully acknowledge they use attractive people because sex sells. There's a refreshing honesty about it.

Not so the frum world. They scream about tznius and pritzus. They yell about ankles and stockings and collarbones. They talk about kedusha and neshamas. And yet they are just as sick and perverse and sex-obsessed as the worst of secular society. Yet, they walk with their heads held high and sneer and look down their noses at everyone else. Kedusha, tznius, and pritzus coupled with you need more makeup, more money, and a nose job. Sickening.

And newsflash: The vast, vast, vast majority of the "outside world" would be appalled if they read this article with its blatant sexist, degrading tone. Compare to the vast majority of frum readers who instead think "maybe it's not such a bad idea. If only the seminaries and rabbis would speak out more about make up and nose jobs!"

AztecQueen2000 said...

As a BT, I find this doubly appalling. I left a culture that valued superficial JAPPIness for--a culture that values superficial JAPPIness.

JS said...


I don't think the "outside" values superficiality or "jappiness". But, at least those pursuing those objectives are honest about it. When someone is looking to hook up at a bar or club, they're honest about what they're seeking - they're honest it's about looks and sex and being completely superficial. When someone is looking to settle down they're honest about having a different set of criteria - that while looks are important other facets of a person are important as well: personality, career, hobbies, etc.

Frum culture says it's all about marriage and looking at inner beauty and claims to have a process that is dignified and holy and fitting for bnei and bnos torah that eliminates the sexual and superficial. In reality it's even more perverse and degrading. Worst of all, they repeat the lie that it's all about kedusha and tznius and avoiding pritzus.

JoelC said...

Unfortunately, this is not a spoof.
Fortunately, the views of this author do not reflect those of just about any chariedim I know (and as many of you know, I am a card-carrying, black hat Chareidi). I literally am not aware of any chareidim who have undergone cosmetic surgery and while I am certain there are those who have done so, it is certainly very rare.
In addtion,I think most rabbonim would say that purely cosmetic surgery is against halacha.

JoelC said...

I would also add that I would bet that cosmetic surgery is far more common in the MO community than the Chareidi community. Not that it excuses some of the repugnant attitudes and mores relating to shidduchim amongst chareidim but this particular idiocy is not very common.

Anonymous said...

I passed a yeshiva couple on a date 7 years ago. He had red hair and a black hat, she had light brown hair, was neat and pleasant-looking, but was not "fixed up" - she was wearing no make up and her hair was simple. As I passed them quickly, I heard a girl call out to me, "Tante Tzeitel!" It was the brown-haired girl out on the date, and she was my niece, Shprintze. She had recognized me and was willing to acknowledge me even though she was on a date. I think this says something about her character. At any rate, this was the first boy she ever went out with, and at first she hesitated because she was not used to red hair. Today Shprintze and the red haired yeshiva bochur have 2 little boys and one baby who are all gingies, and one little boy with light brown hair. Yes, reader, she married him, not "fixed up".

Conservative Scifi said...

From Anne of Windy Poplars (Anne of Green Gables series)

There are so many homely people who would actually look quite attractive if they took a little pains with themselves. Three Sundays ago in church . . . you remember the day poor old Mr. Milvain preached and had such a terrible cold in his head that nobody could make out what he was saying? . . . well, I passed the time making the people around me beautiful. I gave Mrs. Brent a new nose, I waved Mary Addison's hair and gave Jane Marden's a lemon rinse . . . I dressed Emma Dill in blue instead of brown . . . I dressed Charlotte Blair in stripes instead of checks . . . I removed several moles . . . and I shaved off Thomas Anderson's long, sandy Piccadilly weepers. You couldn't have known them when I got through with them. And, except perhaps for Mrs. Brent's nose, they could have done everything I did, themselves.

I'm not sure that looking your best is so terrible

ProfK said...

Well, I've said before that the attitude towards shidduch making today is skewed, and this article only goes to prove it. Cosmetic surgery as the answer to the "shidduch crisis"? Wearing makeup as the sure road to marriage? Has the author totally taken leave of her senses, always assuming she had any to begin with?

No, I don't believe that it was a spoof--if only! It is so-called solutions like this, that get publication space, that take the place of any real and practical dialogue about how to change what is happening in shidduchim. Hashem Yerachem if this woman also has a daughter who is going to be the recipient of her mother's "sage" advice.

rosie said...

Plastic surgery is allowed by some rabbonim and frowned upon by others. One problem is the risk to life and the other is the altering of Hashem's handiwork. Those poskim that allow plastic surgery, do so on the grounds that the offending body part causes great distress to the person. Many rabbonim will sanction the risk to life and limb if it will help with a shidduch or in a marriage; although most plastic surgery is considered low risk. It is basically a quality of life issue. A person who is considering plastic surgery should consult a rav. Some girls are attempting to date in communities where high priorities are placed on "looks". If those girls don't care how they look, they will more than likely be passed over. The girls that she met at the shidduch event were attempting to get dates with boys who were inundated with names already. It did not make sense that the girls attended this event without make-up and hair styling. Did they really think that mothers of inundated boys would select them for their sons?
Yes, I know that the MO on both this site (and the JP site which has hundreds of comments), hate that mode of matchmaking from the get-go, that where the mother of the boy gets to pick her daughter in law, but these girls did attend the meeting of their own free will.
Mrs Halberstam was simply trying to point out that no one today has to be unattractive. There are alternatives.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

So, the secular world is supposedly shallow and superficial, and here we have meat markets for young women where what matters is their "enhancements" and dress size.

And "a shikker is a goy", but while secular teen-agers certainly get drunk, I don't recall ever being provided vast quantities of hard liquor by teachers, nor sent around by a school to fund raise while smashed. And amongst my Christian friends, I certainly don't see them making sure that they have the good liquor at Church on Sunday, or insisting that drunken adolescents is a religious requirement.

And while Americans in general are prone to spending more than they should, and saving less than they should, I haven't seen the rest of America justify living beyong their means on religious grounds.

Something appears to be deeply deeply wrong in the Orthodox world.

rosie said...

Dave, as was pointed out above, the average Orthodox woman has had nothing done besides orthodontia. Most have their original noses and other parts.
There are numerous problems in the Orthodox world, and nobody denies that. That being said, the Torah itself is still the Truth.

Mr. Cohen said...

I suggest correct nutrition and exercise instead of plastic surgery.

My web site for quick divrei Torah sends quick nutrition messages after every devar Torah:

rosie said...

People could avoid many problems with proper nutrition and exercise. Unfortunately, there are those who eat no matter what and eventually they become morbidly obese. Gastric bypass is a last ditch effort. Obesity can have fatal consequences.

JS said...

Some people here just don't get it. It's not about whether other people are getting plastic surgery. It's not about whether other people put on nice clothes and doll themselves up when on a date. It's not about the number or percentage of chareidim or Orthodox that actually go out and get plastic surgery to get a shidduch.

It's about a culture and society that looks favorably on this behavior, publishes it, promotes it, and sets it up as a norm. It's about the sheer hypocrisy of it all - the incessant screaming and carrying on about modesty, about how the secular world is debased and perverse, while engaging in behavior that turns women in sex objects, valuable only for their looks, and whose sole mission in life is to get married to a "top" boy. It's about cloaking abhorrent attitudes and behavior in religiosity and holiness. It's about using yiddish and hebrew words to mask what's really going on: a meat market is a shidduch scene, a pimp/madam is a shadchan, objectification and dehumanization is a shidduch resume.

Until this is realized, the whole culture and society will continue to deteriorate and collapse. This is the real crisis.

If the article was about, for example, an Indian society in which boys' mothers went down to the local market and surveyed young girls to find the most attractive one for her prized son and said some of the girls had skin that was too dark and wondered why they didn't use skin bleaching creams, you'd all be up in arms and calling them backwards and sexist. What a double standard.

At the very least call a spade a spade and admit it's a man's world, women exist to serve and please men, their personalities and individual characteristics are irrelevant, and girls should be hot to make the sex better for the men.

rosie said...

We also have to remember that when we compare the frum community to the outside world, the outside world is lots bigger. These frum girls in Yitta Halberstam's article are all competing for the same small group of boys. The outside world does not have those self-imposed limitations.
I have also seen plenty of overweight and unadorned frum women get married so I don't think that all frum men and their mothers are guilty of shallow values.

rosie said...

Our local community (not the frum community but the local community) produces a magazine devoted to local merchants. Many of those merchants are plastic surgeons. Reading those ads leads one to believe that no one every has to grow old, if they have the money to prevent it. I don't think that the average woman is having major surgical makeovers but it is possible and people are doing it. Eventually it might become more commonplace in general society than it is already.
In frum society, I see articles where rabbonim encourage altruistic kidney donation. The donor's body gets zero benefit from the procedure and there is some risk to the donor. I am trying to understand why then, it is such a terrible thing if a woman asks her rav about a surgical procedure that might boost her chances of marrying a Jew? She may also be trying to get a good looking man rather than one who would accept her due to mutual homeliness.
Now I realize that the purists and idealists out there wonder why I would compare a selfless act such as kidney donation to a selfish act such as a high priced nose. My point is that as we as a society, and not just a Jewish society, accept more high tech beauty treatments, this eventually becomes our society's view of beauty. We Jews still live in the world with other people are influenced by their ideas about beauty. This is why a recent law has been passed in Israel, outlawing underweight models.

Zach Kessin said...

To my mind the problem is that for everyone of us going "OMG this woman has lost her mind" there are others going "yea she is right", if I just got my 19 year old some plastic surgery maybe it will help her find Mr Right. Clearly this article did not come out of nothing but out of what this woman is seeing around her.

ProfK said...

Putting aside the "rightness" or "wrongness" of the woman's viewpoint for a moment, let's focus on the money involved in what she is suggesting.

Insurance companies do NOT cover cosmetic surgery--all expenses are the person's own. Even in cases where medical authorities have shown that a particular "plastic" surgery has a medical underpinning, the insurance companies run the insured through hoops, and may or may not cover all or some of this surgery.

Did the chareidi community suddenly discover a wellspring of free money somewhere? Does this woman truly understand just how much many of the even "routine" surgical procedures she is blithely recommending as necessary cost? I doubt it. So, in addition to yeshiva tuition and the exorbitant costs associated with "must have" elements of making a wedding, we can now add $20-50 thousand in surgery costs?

How nice to live in never-never land, where money grows on trees.

Anonymous said...

This article is not in jest. Horrible article.

LifeAct said...

Of course the article was in jest. I have been saying the exact same things as this article to my friends for years. Hyperbole is an effective form of satire.

Miami Al said...

The author did hit upon a very KEY social skill that is lacking in the Frum sub-culture: situationally appropriate behavior.

These girls were attending a function where they were promoting themselves as marriage material to prospective mother-in-laws. If they were dressed as "homely" as described by the author, then they were not dressed appropriately. They were there to highlight themselves as young women, they should have taken time to prepare themselves to look good as young women.

I see that all around me with people from a RW bent. They have no idea how to adjust their outward appearance and behavior to different social situations.

I see so many people who don't know how to dress themselves up for a party or wedding reception, because they simply aren't taught nor know how to research this. Just as it would be inappropriate to wear a mini-skirt to Shul, it is inappropriate to wear "drab" clothing to a semi-formal or formal affair.

While it is seen as appropriate to bum-rush a Kiddush table and pile food sky high, while eating in front of the table so you can scoop more, such behavior is simply not acceptable at a wedding reception, yet I've seen it too many times.

But the RW Orthodox World is far more sexist and objectifying of women than the secular world. Yes, the secular ADVERTISING world promotes itself with sexist and objectifying messaging to sell product, but those aren't the values of the secular world, those are paid messages to promote something.

The massive requirements of conformity and objective good/bad boy/girl traits basically destroys the ability of a human to be themselves and find someone that they would like to spend their life with for an artificial scale.

And focuses on ALL the wrong things for choosing a life partner.

Ya know, there is a joke about how boys inevitably "marry their mother," I guess in the Shidduch world, the mother gets to insure it.

getting nervous said...

As a RWer I am mortified by what is going on in my world. Questions like 'what size dress does she wear' and 'how much per month will you give' are becoming the norm, not the exception.

yes, most mothers of boys have girls too - and I think they are treating their boys as 'payback time' either for what they went thru to get their daughters married or what they will have to go thru in the future.

I ask every one of my friends -'had YOUR mother asked these questions would YOU have have ever gone out with YOUR wife?' and almost 100% of the time the answer is 'NO but it is different now' though no one knows why it is different.

I would like to start a CLUB for RW people. By joining the club you agree that your children go out with club members without asking about money or looks, the boy agrees it is his responsibiltiy to support a family (whether immediately or not is up to the couple), and a few other rules I am still working out. The prblem is that when I floated this idea all I got was potential female members.

My daughter turns 19 next month. So I guess she starts dating in a year. Wish me luck.

JS said...

Why luck? What you need is a backbone.

You say you're mortified. You say your "world" promotes and participates in a dating scheme and system of values you don't agree with and don't support. Yet, you resign yourself to submitting yourself and your daughter to this very same system and to continue living in this same world. How does that make any sense?

getting nervous said...

Not going to submit - thus I need luck. I have a son too and I am NOT going to do it there either.

As someone I know said when the shadchan asked "how much will you give?" and she answered "if that is your first question, this shidduch is not for us". I would just replace the word "first" with nothing at all.

Will I help with $? Sure, as long as I can...much as I would if he/she was going to Law/B/Med School. But a contracted $ figure? No way.

My own RW son is making his way thru Talmud and Shulchan Aruch but is going to college at night (he attends a more normal RW yeshiva). but as my daughter cannot go out with my son, and vice versa, I need luck in finding matches for both.

nonFFB said...

Out of curiosity I google image-d the author to see what she considers an acceptable look. With all due respect, her amount and style of makeup would be considered tacky in my circles (mostly non-frum, highly educated, high-earning professionals). Especially the lips.

rosie said...

Rhinoplasty costs between $3000 and $8000 with the average being $4200. Some insurances will pay if the rhinoplasty is to fix a "deviated septum." I am not saying this to defend the procedure but it is not as pricey as you think. Personally, I am not a lover of plastic surgery but I do think that in some cases it is justified (a person should first speak to a rav since it involves risk of death).
I think that numerous ads in local publications serve to break down the public's barrier to surgery. Seeing so many ads makes it seem "normal" like everyone is doing it. I would wager to say that the vast majority of elective plastic surgery patients are female. If a few people in a neighborhood or social group have the surgery, it becomes even more the thing to do. Advertising works to make the public comfortable with something and see it as a necessary commodity.

miriamp said...

PM - I'd be interested in your club. My kids aren't up to shidduchim yet (my oldest son just started high school, my oldest daughter is in 8th grade) but at least I'd add a boy to the mix.

Rena said...

to getting nervous, I have a boy and a girl, too. I would be interested in joining your club. We are also RW, and my son has a "plan" AND a degree! Ditto my daughter.

good idea? said...

ortho - here is a chance to make some money...become a shadchan! use your site to link like-minded people to each other! Follw the rules - no asking about money, looks, plastic tablecloths and slip on shoes; but only about things that actually make a difference. You can send Rena the email of Getting Nervous and vice-versa and charge prices below NASI and viola!

Mark said...

It's real and not tongue-in-cheek.

westbankmama said...

I have a different take on this issue. Men are "hard-wired" to react to visuals more than women are. In the "outside world" - or where men have a chance to interract with women in other settings besides a shidduch date, they have a chance to see beyond the pretty, or plain, face. Their first reaction is to the superficial, but after a bit they see a woman's kindness, intelligence, etc, and their attitude to the woman's looks changes. Then they can judge a person by other standards. (Women also judge a man by his looks, but usually have more patience to look beyond this).

Fixing the problem shouldn't be to have the girls fix their bodies by plastic surgery - fixing the problem should be by allowing young men and women to interract with each other in other ways besides on shidduch dates. Two examples could be volunteer work in a supervised setting, or shiurim for both young men and women where they can discuss things afterwards.

Nose Job Orange County said...

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