Objectification of Me

I’ve written a large amount about the business of requesting photos of one’s potential date.

(Say Shidduch! and A Glance at Looks and Visual Incentive and Visually Unreasonable.)

And why not? It comes up on a regular basis. Like just last week. My mother’s sister’s friend has a neighbor who knows a guy who really seems my type, but he wants a photo.

“Then we want one too,” my mother gave the rote response.

“Well, I don’t have any of him, and I’ve never seen him, but I heard he was written up in the Washington Post; I’m sure you could get that photo.”

Odd how she doesn’t hesitate to ask for my photo (which is readily googlable) but tries sending us to a long-lost newspaper when we return the request.

It occurred to me that even if we swapped photos and he sounded interesting and everything was in order – I still didn’t want to go out with him.

And no, it’s not because I think he’s a shallow jerk, though I admit that his character will be forever tarnished by his request. It’s because a casual, fun date has just been turned into a beauty pageant.

It’s like this:

We all know that looks count on a date, which is why we put in our best efforts to look less scruffy for the occasion. But once we’re done primping, shaving, mascara-ing, and tweezing our nose hairs (not all the same person), we get on the with evening. (At least I do.) We no longer worry if our eyebrows are in line. We just get to know the other person.

But when a guy asks for a photo he’s saying that not just anyone will do. There’s a baseline beauty requirement you must meet to avoid wasting his precious time. So you send the most stunning photo of you ever taken and lo! he looks and sees that it is good.

So you go out.

And then what? You’re super-worried. Because you know that in real life, away from a professional makeup artist and the flattering lights of a professional photographer, you’re just not drop-dead gorgeous. And you know he’s looking at you and going “Where’s the girl from the photo?” So you’re super-self-conscious, and this makes you dumber. By the end of the evening not only have you failed to be eye candy, but you’re also a ditz. Unless he’s looking for a bimbo, you’ll probably never see him again.

And then, to be fair: I’d probably be looking at him the same way. “This is the dude who thinks he can request a photo beforehand? Phew – it’s amazing there’s enough room in this car for me and his ego and his hairy ears!”

The whole business is one gigantic turnoff. Guys, don’t do it.

35 thoughts on “Objectification of Me

  1. Well said. I’d refuse to send photos on principle. It’s in very poor taste.

    Although you gotta stop worrying about what guys think of you.


  2. I never ask for pictures. But I send mine from the start and do appreciate it when they get the hint. But if they don’t I usually do find a picture by googling.

    Once, I called a girl to set up the date, and she was like “but first I want to see a picture.” To me. Not to the shadchan. She said that to me directly. I told her she can find me on facebook and when she’s ready she can give me a call. I’m glad she didn’t call 🙂

  3. The picture thing bugs me for many reasons, one of which being that so much of a person is only captured in person. Guys who are not that attractive have grown on me because of their personality, and the opposite has been true as well, where guys who were attractive only became less so in person. Not to mention how misleading pictures are altogether. While I feel that way, though, I have found that the picture thing has become so prevalent that it is now a statement if you don’t send one (ie, you are ‘hiding’ something) – I think this is in part because of these ‘shidduch resumes’ that have become so popular whereby not including a pic is now like leaving off your GPA when you first leave college. I think a person is only doing herself a disservice at a certain point by refusing a picture regardless of whether or not the whole thing makes sense or is shallow and dumb – I swallowed a lot of bile and gave the occasional picture (generally it was a shadchan who hadn’t met me asking which definitely made it easier) if only to keep myself in the game as much as I hated it.

  4. Any guy with sisters has seen them with makeup and without makeup and knows that there is a difference between a shidduch picture and the real deal. However, isn’t there a certain baseline of attractiveness that everyone requires in a mate? Seeing a picture at least enables each party to determine whether there is any possibility for attraction. Especially in cases where there is travel involved, it seems like such an easy criterion to establish and avoids a date which would be a waste of time, money, and emotions for both. Granted, many guys have unrealistic expectations, but you don’t want to date those guys anyway. Isn’t it helpful for all involved though, if a guy or girl can look at a picture, see that there is absolutely no way they’ll ever be attracted to the shidduch and save the both of them the trouble?


  5. Granted, there has to be a physical attraction, but come on. I’ll bet that everyone reading here has at least one friend if not more who was awfully picky and choosy when it came to looks and then married someone whose looks can only kindly be called borderline average. And that goes for males and females as well. The guy who would only go out if the girl was tall, built,slim, blonde and blue eyed with shiny long hair and not wearing glasses? The girl who would only go out if the guy was tall, built, slim, blonde and blue eyed and not wearing glasses? How many of them got their “picture perfect” spouse?

    When I was active in redting shidduchim I refused any and all requests for pictures–I wasn’t running a modeling agency. And no, we don’t send out pictures of our kids either. Might lose a possible fix up that way? No loss, if that’s the make or break on the deal.

  6. In general, the whole shidduch process means that shidduch daters will be at their absolute physical peak. Gym, hair, makeup*, clothes, everything: no young woman will look nearly as attractive at any time in her life than in her dating years, for obvious reasons. So even without a photo, the girl a guy sees is not necessarily the “real” her. It’s not that she’ll let herself go after marriage; it’s that while dating she was working hard to be far more attractive than she naturally is. So it’s dumb to read too much into looks.

    *That is, if you think heavy black lines around your eyes are attractive. Sometimes I just want to YELL at a young lady who thinks that if a little makeup is good, more is better. News flash, it definitely isn’t!

  7. wow, the picture thing blown way out of proportion. the reason a guy asks for a picture is not to make sure that you are drop dead gorgeous. not even to see if your beautiful or even pretty. he asks for a picture to make sure you are not ugly. major difference. i know so many guys that were set up with “gorgeous” girls only to find themselves with…well lets just say something extremely far from it. i personally know around 3 guys that started asking for pictures only after constantly being set up with heavier girls. they didnt need a super model but they simply werent interested in dating a heavy girl. they only asked for pictures to see for themselves if the girl is heavy. period. you girls have no clue how much guys get lied to in the shidduch world. you know that shadchan that has so many wonderful girls and no normal guys? yea well the reason the normal guys dont come to her is cause she is going to set them up with “wonderful” girls that arent that wonderful. you people are living in an ideal world, the boys that have gone on tons of pointless dates are living in reality. in the real world, certain physical features are a turn off to certain guys. when they look at your pic, they know you dont look like that in real life so they dont expect a super model. they are only looking at the picture to look at for the negatives, not to get a run down on the positives. get my drift?

  8. While I agree with whiner? to a certain extent, I personally never asked for a picture. I think it’s a drop tasteless, and also offensive to say no because of a picture. I found out other ways- by asking people who know me and her what she looks like and by searching facebook.

  9. Perfectly put.

    I’ve refused to give close friends pictures, and told them off for asking. That most are like whiner’s claim in saying they’re only asking to establish “not ugly” only slightly softens how bad it is, IMHO.

    When people mention it, Serach notes simply that had I gone by a picture I saw of her, I’d have never dated her. The picture was horrendously ugly and stretched.

    And as you noted, seeing a picture will almost always lead to disappointment on the date itself since people simply don’t look like their pictures.

  10. I find that photos are just two dimensional whereas real people possess many dimensions. Some of the plainest looking people I know exude charm and loveliness once they open their mouths to speak and you can see what they are all about. They can be animated and full of life. They are thought of as beautiful by all who know them and one would never get to find that out had they looked at a picture and decided the person in question was ‘ugly’. Beauty and (if you must) ugliness are in the eye of the beholder. In this day and age, with all the tools at a young lady’s disposal to make the most of her looks, I don’t believe you will find a truly ‘ugly’ girl. The old saying that “Beauty is as beauty does” has never been more true. If a “beautiful” girl (or guy) behaves in a self-centered and inconsiderate way, she (or he) will look ugly to you very fast and when a plainer looking person exhibits beautiful actions and middos and has a good brain as well, the chemistry will come. Everyone knows people who can be turned off by people who have “classic beautiful features” even when they are wonderful people. If requests for a picture make people uncomfortable, that is reason enough to discourage that practice even though the real reason is that hopefully, you were redt this girl for reasons that might make her a good marriage partner for you. Would you want to throw away that opportunity based on a piece of paper which may or may not even look like her?

  11. There are some shadchanim who will not even take your info if it’s not accompanied by a picture. I’va always refused to send one of my daughter…but I’m about to cave…

  12. Mystery Woman, I don’t think it’s the same thing for a shadchan to ask for a picture if it’s for her or his files. Shadchanim meet so many people and it’s a way of keeping the singles organized and familiar in their minds. It’s when the guy (or girl) asks for the picture that the above rants begin….

  13. I am a guy who never asks for pictures based on both principle and my experience that pictures are deceiving, and attraction is based at least 50% on personality. That being said; I find it a little odd that just about all comments focus on the guy asking for a picture. Girls (or their mothers) constantly ask me for my picture. Am I the only one…?
    Usually I’m already pretty ‘turned off’ at this point. But my typical response is the same as that of Bad4’s mother. If I I’m going to send a picture I ask for one in return. The majority of times I’m the only one honoring that agreement by sending a picture while never receiving one in return.

  14. im a girl and i (almost) always see a picture before dating. the only reason really is because i need to travel to date (i dont live in the states) and it saves a lot of time and hassle finding out before hand if im going to be totally turned off by the guy… also, u can see a lot from pictures. if the guy is smiling it makes him look so much more attractive.

  15. It is very true, as many have noted, that physical attraction is not only necessary for the relationship, but significant enough in many cases to determine whether someone may find the suggested candidate attractive enough to date.

    One of the biggest issues is that shadchanim/wanna-be-match-makers are not honest, or not totally honest, in describing a person’s physical features. Due to this liability, pictures are requested. Often, as others have noted here, the pictures themselves are not reliable due to the staged nature (extra make up, professional picture, etc) or the flawed aspects of the photograph make the person seem less attractive than they actually are.

    As a side point, particularly since this happened to me several times when I was dating: why in the world would ANYONE want to have an unattractive picture of him/herself available for the purpose of evaluation regarding shidduchim? I saw dozens of YUConnects profiles with girls who haphazardly slapped up some cropped, unflattering Facebook picture. I was surprised on more than one occasion that the girl was more attractive than her photo depicted. If you want a date, don’t pass around a bad picture of you! Get multiple opinions from people you know and trust to approve the worthiness of a particular picture before it gets out there for general evaluation.

    Back on topic: So we’re basically stuck with a double sense of falsehood. Descriptions are incomplete or wrong, so we ask for a picture, but asking for a picture is insulting and also often misleading. The option to go in “blind” will often lead to numerous disappointments, as some guys have noted. If the looks are a no-go, then the entire venture is a non-starter. That applies to both guys and girls, and girls need to learn to accept that, especially since they don’t necessarily focus on looks from the get go as much as a guys often do.

    I think there is a clear difference when someone asks for a picture “stam” versus asking for a picture because you can tell they’re stuck up, utterly full of him/herself and looking for a supermodel for a spouse. Nobody should have an exact “look” that they absolutely require, because that’s simply impossible. Everyone has their own personal likes and dislikes when it comes to appearances, but often these preferences can be lumped into more general categories that paint a fuzzy picture of what is acceptable, thus letting the details remain more open for the actual dating experience.

    As I’ve said many times before on my own blog and comments here, everyone needs to have a standard of what they find attractive, per those general guidelines I just mentioned, which can include height, facial features, body shape, etc. The only thing a picture should do, and hopefully do accurately is determine if he/she meets that cut-off line in your mind. A short examination of a picture can accomplish that. The same thing is done on a date as well, but the stakes are higher and a greater degree of scrutiny is absolutely necessary, especially if you are determining if you can accept certain imperfections or unique characteristics (this is part of the more specific aspect I mentioned above). For a picture, if the person is “too fat,” “too skinny,” too this or that, per your personal tastes then you know right off the bat and don’t have to go further.

    It is NOT fair to jump on someone’s back and say they’re being too prejudiced against someone because of a decent picture. True, finer elements of a person’s features will only be apparent while seeing them in person, but if someone hands me a picture of a girl who was 400 pounds, and I don’t find that attractive, no matter how great the quality of the photo, I would say no because that’s not what I want. The same thing goes for ANYTHING (not to stereotype against the obese) that a particular person finds unattractive. I had a professor who told us that he couldn’t stand red heads when he was dating – and as such, he didn’t marry a red head. True, the possibility exists that he could compromise for a particular person, but that would entail further examination. But telling him he’s absolutely wrong for having such a strong gut-reaction (based on who knows what) isn’t right. In fact, that particular professor even told us about a red head cousin of his who married a guy from Lakewood, and now she wears a dark sheital, because her husband hates red hair (the professor didn’t ask what she did around the house/when her hair was uncovered).

    At any rate, everyone needs to be honest and up front about looks and pictures. Why can’t we just standardize picture usage (like YUConnects does), with EVERYONE providing decent pictures that accurately portray their looks? If someone turns you down that means A) You aren’t their physical type, for whatever reason, so deal with it or B) He/she is a shallow jerk who didn’t like how your right nostril looked and you’re better off not going out with him/her anyway because he/she is stupid.

    May everyone find the person who looks the way they would like their spouse to look – and more importantly – find the person who represents all the good qualities required to be a good spouse.

  16. As a guy, this is something that I have strongly debated with friends. Putting aside the appropriateness of requesting a picture, whether that is implicitly objectifying the other person, I am bothered by something else. If I were to ever ask for a picture, I would personally feel totally demeaned and embarassed. I would feel incredibly uncomfortable. Yes, I can be self-aware of my own need to feel attracted, but why do i have to blatantly express that to someone else?

  17. As a guy, I would never ask for a picture, yet when I see some girls, I really wish that I had. It may sound disgusting, but I don’t think it is. Why waste a minimum of five hours on a date when a two second glance at a picture would have cleared it all up? I’m not looking for a ‘perfect ten’ or trying to reject a size ten, I’m just looking to avoid those girls that I know I am not attracted to. And you know what, I’m not such a good-looking guy myself, yet I’d rather a girl see what I look like before and save us both the aggravation and waste of time.
    The funny part is, of the pictures I have seen, 100% of the girls looked better in person.

  18. QED-That’s exactly the point that my friends have argued back to me and I completely relate to it. My point is that when weighing the two factors, realizing immediately a lack of attraction and sacrificing my own sense of dignity, I have chosen to stick to my dignity.

  19. Bad4 – I totally agree! This whole picture topic has gotten WAY out of hand. We all care about our spouse being attractive, but how about derech eretz? How about not hurting another person’s feelings?

    Back in my naive dating days, I would send my picture per request. Now, my answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT because every single time (without fail) that I dated a guy who “required” a picture — he ended up annoying me somehow. Even if he liked me. Perhaps I was annoyed because I went into the dates with the knowledge that there’re red flags.

    While I understand what Shades of Grey is saying — people have their types and why waste the other person’s time, if they’re not your physical type, anyway?
    My answer to that is just DO your research beforehand– facebook search, google search, or ask a mutual acquaintance/friend who knows them.
    Otherwise, no matter what, the request is degrading — regardless if the girl looks like a model or not.
    The problem also lies in the fact that once the girl is asked for a picture — she KNOWS that your answer solely depends on whether or not you find her attractive. If the answer is no, it’s often offensive and demeaning. Everybody focuses on middot middot middot, but that’s one of the biggest test of middot — how you treat the people that you didn’t date yet.

    I really don’t get what the big deal is. If everything seems shayach on paper, just give the person one chance. It’s one date, and it (probably) won’t kill anyone. You’re getting to know another Jew, and there’s something to learn from each person you meet. If she’s not the one for you, then maybe she knows a friend for you. One thing is for sure — if you ask for a picture, she’ll probably hesistate before suggesting you for a friend!

    Did Avraham Avinu see a picture of Sara Imeinu? Did Yitzchak see a picture of Rivka?
    Me thinks not.

    For your own sake, do your research, and if all seems fine, then just give the other person a chance. If it’s not shayach, then say no after the date. Zehu.

  20. “or trying to reject a size ten”–good grief! Forget the pictures vs. non-pictures and mayhap concentrate on this idea. A size ten is reject material?! Newsflash–shidduchim don’t equate to supermarket, and we shouldn’t be selling our girls by the pound or the size of the box as if they were some kind of s’choirah–same goes for the boys.

  21. I think the reason why people ask for pictures is because we live in the age of instant gratification, therefore everyone wants to know everything right away. A person does not want to have to wait until the date to know what a person looks like, they want to know now.

    At the same time I agree with sefardigal, that if you want to see a picture you can find one very easily on the internet, so there is no need to ask for one, especially if the person will be insulted by your asking.

  22. Follow up to getting in trouble for asking for pictures. What about the other side of things?

    Guy goes to pick up an ugly girl. They have a nice time but he says no. Let’s say it’s obvious that he said no because of looks. Let’s also assume that given a picture the guy would have said no from the outset.

    What would the girl have preferred?

  23. I never ask for a picture for my own boys; it seems to me too closely akin to buying cattle. I feel the same way when I red shidduchim, but if a boy asks for a picture, I will relay the request; if the girl declines to give one, I make sure to tell her that I support her decision. That having been said, if the girl asks for a picture as well, I ask the boy, and have never had a boy refuse to give one. So Bad4, do whatever makes you comfortable! If the boys asks for a photo, but won’t give you one of himmself, that should tell you something about what your relationship with him would be like.

  24. I think that you’re all making way too much of it. I have been lied to so many times about guys that I prefer to see a picture of my date first. Anyone who says what’s the big deal it’s just one date, has obviously not experienced dating-fatigue. A date is a big deal, and I would prefer to date selectively. Neither do I have a problem with the guy wanting to see my picture first. I assume that he is in a similar boat. And if you’re on facebook anyway what difference does it make to you.

  25. What’s the difference between being asked for a picture of whether you are a size 2, have an aquiline nose and perfect posture? One requires your participation, the other happens behind your back.

  26. In my experience, whenever a guy asks for a photo (after I shriek and rant and holler how chivalry is dead and then send the stupid thing), no date materializes. I can assure the public I am no hound of the Baskervilles. When a guy wants a photo, he’s not serious about dating, in my view. A guy may whine how he’ll be inconvenienced for taking out someone that he’ll never marry anyway, but that’s not what it’s about.

    As Jews, we know what it’s like to do something you’d rather not do. In the mornings, as I burrow under the covers, I feel sorry for any man who has to crawl out to go daven. One gazes at that chocolate bar with 6 hours to go before you two can be together. We’d really love to tell someone that story about someone else, but we hold our tongue.

    How come doing the proper thing is now an acceptable drag? You want to get married? You suck it up. And that means that you’ll go on a date that you’d rather not go on. I have. You know it’s doomed as soon as you told the shadchan “Yes.” You smile, you’re polite, you pretend to laugh at his lame jokes, you go home and tell the shadchan, “Thank you so much of thinking of me, but he’s not my guy.”

    REAL men go out with girls they’d rather not.

  27. princess says it like it is 🙂 I go out w/ girls all the time, with the knowledge that its likely not gonna go anywhere.

  28. I’m sorry- but picture debate aside- the idea that “REAL men go out with girl’s they’d rather not” seems completely absurd and counterproductive. If the purpose of dating is for marriage, why date if you know with absolute certainty that he/she is not the one?

  29. How DO you know with absolute certainty? I would not be able to be certain based on a single photo. Hishtadlus is what dating is all about, right? And that means exploring the opportunities Hashem sends our way. I’m not saying that one has to go out with every person redd (I don’t), but to say “Not my life mate” based on a photo doesn’t seem rather hishtadlus-like.

    We all know that story of the man who came to the Rav, crying why Hashem never sent him his bashert. The Rav said, “He did. But you said her nose was too long.” (If that’s not an argument against photo-requests, I don’t know what is).

    Once you meet and interact with someone and see that inner-ness, that nose becomes less problematic.

  30. There plenty of people with objectionable noses that you’d only notice in a photo, because they have such amazing personality that it just blocks any undesirable features.

  31. Princess Lea- I agree with you every word you wrote- the second time (post 30). But post 27 seemed like you were talking about situations that included not just seeing an unattractive photo. And that is what I was responding to. Because yes, sometimes when doing research on a guy you find out things that scream “not the one for you”. And in those instances, where you are completely certain that he is not the one for you, it is better to say no.

  32. Just letting the women readers know an interesting phenomenon:

    I do not ask for pictures of girls before I date them. To my horror, I found out that a “shot-gun” who suggests multiple girls to me had been asking for girls’ pictures, just in case I would ask for them! Please make sure of the reason why the shotgun wants the picture- in my case, it was never me requesting them! So please judge more favorably.

    To entertain: There have been girls who I have dated whose looks bothered me on the first date. I came home thinking, “I hope her personality wins me over.” On the second date, I am not crazy about her looks but it’s better than the first date. By the third date, I like her personality enough that her looks do not bother me. Keep in mind that I don’t think she’s suddenly beautiful, but that she is a person who could potentially be my wife and has so much to offer.

    This is why I am not a believer in asking for pictures; for me, the personality can mute negative looks. I am not a total saint- if I am totally not attracted to her, her personality won’t help.

    Other than that, I feel that many views have been offered here and I agree with some and disagree with other. Therefore, that’s it from me right now.

  33. If I go on a blind date I request a picture, but that’s cuz I’m dating middle aged guys.
    When I was a young woman I never needed to (how bad can a 25 year old look anyway?)

  34. A picture allows a guy to put a name and description to a face. When the shadchan offers the picture, I usually will take it just to make it easier to try to get a better image of who it is I am going out with, and what they might be interested in…. Really, it is almost never to see if I like how they look. Though I know there are DEFINITELY guys that do it for that reason.

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