"Your destiny is not decided by your daintiness…. ...and soul mates are not just for skinny people.”
I have been shidduch-dating for years now, and have yet to find my soul mate. People tell me that I am a great catch and that any guy would be lucky to have me. But why am I still single? Is it because I am overweight? I feel frustrated with the way matchmakers represent me and wish the shidduch-system would allow someone to first see me for who I am. The entire saga makes me feel depressed. I feel if I was a size two, I would get many more suggestions. Perhaps you can address this in your next column?
While the use of intermediaries to find our mates is a successful method that goes a long way in protecting people’s feelings and narrowing in on the most fitting suitors, nothing is flawless. Your frustration puts a spotlight on one of the perils of the shidduch system, namely its inadequacy in representing and advocating for those that have everything to offer but may not be best represented by descriptions on a sheet of paper. Of all the complaints people have about dating,
the plight of the overweight Orthodox woman is probably the most legitimate and heart-wrenching.
The overweight marriageable-age girl enters the dating phase excited and hopeful, but quickly realizes that - in a world of facts and pictures that speak only one word – she is not considered to be “a great catch.” The matchmaker easily lets her know this by only setting her up with overweight men, misleading others about her physique (usually more hurtful than helpful), and even making diet suggestions as an answer to her single status (true story!). I’ve even heard of heartbreaking accounts where a date is almost set up but, when the boy is somehow alerted to the reality of the girl’s figure, everything is called off.
This is not entirely an issue with the shidduch-system itself, but with the minds that maneuver its terrain. To say the least, too many men today are looking for women that resemble skinny models (this an entire article on its own!). But what makes it worse in the case of the shidduch-dating male is that he has an unfair (and in the end, self-defeating) advantage in that he’s able to pick and choose and dismiss women as if he were in an ice-cream shop. When all the raw facts about a girl are brought to the table prior to any live meeting, the girl’s figure will often be a question. Most women with less-than-prime figures could charm someone in real life were they merely afforded the luxury of showcasing their personality prior to receiving the facts…and figures.But the often cold nature of shidduch-dating offers no such chance. As a result, there are many women who feel insecure, victimized and, worst of all, hopeless.
What, then, is the overweightshidduchmaidel to do? How does she navigate a system she believes in, but at the same time seems not to work to her benefit?
To the shidduch-age girl that may be overweight, slightly plump or just larger than a size two, I have this to say: as depressed, frustrated and pessimistic as you may feel in your “shidduch world” travels, you have a responsibility to love and protect yourself. Don’t succumb to scrutiny of your body by becoming self-loathing. Don’t fall victim to this notion that overweight people can’t get married. Yes, some guys won't look further when the shadchan describes you as "thick," “curvy” or - a personal favorite – “womanly.” But, as simplistic as this may sound, those men aren’t your husband.
Assuming you’re doing your best to be healthy and presentable, you have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be downtrodden about. Yes, if you were a size two, you probably would attract more suggestions. But the amount of suggestions actually says little about the likelihood of you marrying! I know petite-figured girls who get bountiful suggestions but have been dating for years, while some fuller-figured women got few suggestions but, well, one was their match! Have some faith. Your destiny is not decided by your daintiness….and soul mates are not just for skinny people.
If you are a voluptuous girl looking for your husband, know this: While the shadchan would like to describe you simply as having “a pretty face,” your beauty is beyond that. The next time you’re feeling cynical about your marriage prospects, remind yourself three things: 1) The size of your waist will never define how good of “a catch” you are, 2) confidence and joy are any girl's most attractive assets and 3) sooner than you think, the husband already decided for you will be lucky and proud to call you his own.