By Baila Sebrow

 

Question

Everyone feels bad for girls who are heavy. People give them chizuk and advice about diet and exercise. And they also get mad at boys who say no to them for being heavy. Basically, everyone sticks up for them. But what about girls who are too skinny and are told that boys don’t like us because we have no shape? Well, that’s me! People say that it’s my fault and I should eat more. And that’s not even the worst of it. The ladies in my neighborhood make up stories that I’m anorexic, because of one yenta who doesn’t like my mother and started that rumor. They also say that they don’t know how any boy would want to marry me because I look like a boy! Meanwhile, my friends say that I am very lucky to be so thin.

I eat all the time, and my doctor says not to worry. Even when I try to gain weight it doesn’t work because I just get a little stomach and then I just look weird. I wish that I could go to singles events, but I went once, and it was terrible because the guys didn’t talk to me. They went for the girls who look better than me. No one sets me up either, probably because they think I’m anorexic. I’m so depressed about all this.

Response

Each and every person’s troubling predicament is of significance. No one has any right to devalue your feelings. Your friends at least try to make you feel better by telling you that are so lucky. The way western culture views physical appearance, many, if not most, women would wish that they could eat whatever they want and not gain weight, as long as they are healthy. The main problem here is that you are not happy with the way you look. Compounding your personal issues with body image, the women in your neighborhood have nothing better to do than repeat the quack diagnosis of that “yenta” woman. That surely does not help the way you feel about yourself.

You assume that the reason that you are not getting shidduch suggestions is because people think that you are anorexic. I don’t know that I would agree that your thinness is the real factor in your case. The way the shidduch system works today is that regardless of how a female may appear—thin, heavy, or whatever one might consider perfect—the fact is that finding a shidduch does not come easy to many singles. If you take a step back from analyzing yourself and spend time looking around your neighborhood, you will realize that the people who don’t get married come in all shapes and sizes. And that goes for people who eventually get married, too.

With regard to what people say, you need to ignore them, and so should your mother. If you attempt to contradict what they say, it will only give credence to their nonsensical words and comments. And besides, whoever said that your shidduch suggestions must come from the people in your neighborhood? Baruch Hashem, there are plenty of frum neighborhoods all over where you can reach out to people who involve themselves with shidduchim.

Before you move on with finding a shidduch, you need to make peace with your self-image and as a young lady who has much to offer as a wife and mother, iy’H. You also need to believe that you are beautiful and worthy of being loved by the man who will appreciate you for who you are.

I am sure that you are familiar with the adage “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” This is not just some empty old saying, as I mentioned earlier that people who get married come in all shapes and sizes. It is interesting to note that the same type of people who speak about you will also remark that they don’t understand how a person who doesn’t fit the image of what they consider beautiful managed to get married. And these are the very people who make cruel comments about you. The guy who will ultimately become your husband will find you to be the most beautiful woman in the world. That is how these things usually end up working themselves out.

In the meantime, as an intelligent young lady, I am sure you are doing whatever you need to do to accentuate the features that you consider to be positive by way of clothing and hairstyle. When things seem dim, every person can use a fresh update as a pick-me-up; treating yourself can help you feel a little better. This can be as simple as a new lipstick, outfit, haircut, or whatever would give you pleasure to indulge in. It does not need to involve much cost.

Additionally, if you don’t have a gym membership, then if your doctor approves, why not go for it? Exercise is not just for people who need to lose weight. It is even helpful for those who seek to gain weight. If you speak to a trainer and explain your goals, the right program could help you build some muscles. But that’s not the only reason to exercise. People who work out regularly admit that they feel better about themselves. When you feel good about yourself, it helps you stand more confidently, and a confident person makes a much better impression on everyone with whom they come in contact.

As soon as you feel good about yourself, that’s when you should begin to be proactive in finding a shidduch. You say that you wish you could go to singles events. That tells me that you are sociable person and that you enjoy being in the company of people such as yourself. I understand that the one-time experience you had was not a positive one. However, that could happen to any person at a singles event. There are so many reasons why that event was unpleasant for you, which may have absolutely nothing to do with your assumption.

The guys who approached the girls you think are attractive might have been friends with them, girls they talk to regularly in social settings. A singles event, for most people, is a venue where one hopes to meet their bashert. Then there are those who utilize it as an environment to meet up with old friends and hang out together. If there was somebody you liked at that event, did you contact the organizers or facilitators to tell them that you were interested in anyone?

If you haven’t done that, and even if much time has passed, you can still contact the person or people in charge of that event and ask them to assist you, or inform them that you would appreciate it if they could possibly match you with a guy from that event. Don’t be shy about doing that and do not worry that they may tell you that the event took place a while back. Organizers hold on to guest lists so that they can invite those people again to a future event. Additionally, if the organizers are shadchanim, too, then they have even more of an incentive to want to help you.

You should definitely continue to attend events, but you need to be an educated consumer. Find out if the event is a membership-only type of event. There are organizations that run events and they sometimes open empty slots to outsiders. While that is a very nice gesture, some of the attendees who may not know anybody there can possibly feel uncomfortable. I wonder if that may have been the case with the event that you went to. Additionally, even if it is not that type of event, before you go to any event it is a good idea to find out if the registrants are mostly repeat guests or if there will be people who are new to that venue. That will automatically place you and those people in the position of gravitating towards each other.

I will offer you another piece of advice, though this might sound funny. There is nothing wrong with making friends with another young lady at the event. You never know who she might know and introduce you to. She might know somebody at that event or perhaps have an eligible family member or acquaintance. Also, while at that event, find out who the facilitators are. If the event is large, it might not always be obvious to the attendees who those people are. Make the effort to walk over to those facilitators and introduce yourself. Don’t wait for them to notice you, as they might be busy and even overwhelmed. I assure you that they will be very happy that you initiated a conversation with them.

In conclusion, almost every person in the shidduch parashah has looked in the mirror and worried about their appearance, whether it’s about weight, facial features, intelligence, education … the list goes on. Hearing criticism from other people or experiencing rejections can only exacerbate any existing insecurity that the person feels. My heartfelt advice is to accept yourself as a beautiful woman with a beautiful figure. Refrain from putting yourself down, even if done privately. When you feel the way you want others to perceive you, your attitude will begin to take on a life of its own.

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to 5townsforum@gmail.com.

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