I recently came across an article titled, "New York: Dating Getting Out Of Hand?" by Yitta Halberstam. In her article she advises mothers to encourage their daughters to get plastic surgery in order to 'fix/solve' the dating crisis.
My reaction? Shocked. Emotional. Upset.
Thousands of young girls and mothers are reading this article. Thousands of insecure girls are considering going 'under the knife' to increase their chances of getting married because of this article. This is not the proper education that young Jewish girls should be learning.
Of course I think that it's important for a girl to feel attractive and to have confidence. I feel that it's necessary that a girl should take care of herself and look her best, especially if she's looking to get married. But it is over the line to tell parents, "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."
If only the author was joking.
Mrs. Halberstam conveys the story of the Satmar Rebbe, zt"l, who wouldn't eat the bread he was given in the concentration camps due to his concerns about the Kashrut. A woman named Hannah, who worked in the kitchen, knew this and risked her life by smuggling potatoes for him. The Satmar Rebbe was filled with gratitude for what she had done for him, and when he saw that Hannah was having difficulties in getting married due to losing all her teeth during her years of privation, he gave her a large amount of money so that she could pay for dentures.
I fail to see how this story relates to our situation. Hannah didn't have any teeth at all! I doubt that the Satmar Rebbe would voluntarily pay for Hannah's nose job, had she needed one.
I believe Mrs. Halberstam was genuinely trying to help young girls who are struggling with getting married and losing hope. And I agree with her assertion that it is important for women to look their best and that parents should (subtly) try to help them if they can. If someone has a daughter with extremely kinky hair and caterpillars as eyebrows, they shouldn't just sit back and think, "Hopefully her soul mate is into the whole jungle-safari type of look..."
God made everyone look unique. They're beautiful exactly the way they are.
In such a situation, a mother should make sure to tell her daughter that she is beautiful but that maybe some hair-gel or a blow-dryer could enhance her hair, and perhaps a pair of tweezers could help open her face.
But at the end of the day, God made everyone look unique; they're beautiful exactly the way they are. No parent should encourage their child to change themselves.
My advice to the singles is the following:
Girls: If you're looking to get married, take the time and make the effort to look your best. Even a little mascara and lip-gloss can make a world of difference. But always remember, "No amount of make-up can mask an ugly heart." (And also remember that taking care of yourself and looking good doesn't end when you get married. If anything, you should take care of yourself even more once you are married!)
Guys: Looks aren't everything. Of course you need to be attracted to your wife, but what's a pretty face without a pretty heart? Good character is the most important thing to look for, so don't be too picky and don't be shallow!
With God’s help, may we all strive to make ourselves so beautiful on the inside that it will automatically show on the outside. And may all Jewish singles get married at the right time, with clarity and ease.