By Baila Sebrow


I am a 35-year-old single woman, and I am feeling anxious and discouraged about dating. Multiple people, including well-meaning strangers and acquaintances, have advised me to lose weight. They all seem to think that if I lose 20 pounds or so I will magically meet my husband. I even saw an ad about a Zoom event for women about the issue of being overweight in shidduchim. I am naturally heavyset. I don’t overeat; this is just my natural weight.

I see overweight single men all the time who are also sloppily dressed, awkward-mannered, and often not in a position to support a family. Yet, shadchanim don’t seem to say anything critical to them or advise them to lose weight in order to get married. It seems like such a double standard. Also, it’s hurtful. It’s not about health; it’s about weight, plain and simple.

I want to believe that the same G-d who created me in a larger size will send me my husband. But everyone seems to think otherwise. Do you really think that only thin, beautiful women can marry nice, normal men?


The problem with weight in shidduchim is not about what the men want. Men are attracted to different types and sizes of women. The ones we should be reprimanding are the people perpetuating this secular fad in the Orthodox Jewish world of dating. They are body-shaming Jewish women. Every person is a tzelem Elokim—we are all created in the image of Hashem. And if shaming bnos Yisrael is not horrible enough, they are propagating a trend for Orthodox Jewish men to follow, to the extent that a man who might be attracted to a woman who is on the larger size will be made to feel as though he is not getting what he deserves, according to the standards set. Shame on anyone who is in a position of shidduch authority, or claims to care about singles, but is setting such a foundation.

It does not matter if such people insist that they are telling women to lose weight because they want to help them. That is just rubbish they want everyone to believe. Their harmful and hurtful words prove that the emotional pain they are inflicting on women is that of self-serving slayers of self-confidence. Ultimately, they are suppressing the building of Jewish homes and leading to a decrease of Bnei Yisrael, chas v’shalom. It would be hurtful enough if anyone privately advises a woman to lose weight, but to do it in a public forum is asking for a heavenly outcry.

If those advisers are that concerned about singles being thin, then they should organize such lectures for the men, too. You are correct by stating that it seems like a double standard. That’s exactly what it is. It is giving the message that the men can do as they please, but the women have to starve themselves to look “beautiful” for a man who has no obligation to take care of himself. Which brings me to the next topic: eating disorders.

Anorexia and bulimia are overwhelming eating disorders rampant among young Orthodox women. It has become ingrained within the Jewish community that beauty and success are synonymous with thinness. Young ladies who are in the early stages of this disorder are frequently heard saying, “You can never be thin enough,” or other bone-chilling expressions I will not quote in a publication with family readership. Thankfully, the Jewish communities are responding to this widespread dilemma, and there are frum therapists who address the issue of eating disorders and are working to help these young women.

People who suffer from eating disorders are at risk for developing serious health conditions, ranging from bone loss and fractures, anemia, loss of menstrual cycle, fainting, etc., to the more serious issues of heart and kidney failure. This is a life-threatening disorder from which the sufferer can die. It starts with wanting to lose a few pounds by limiting high caloric foods, and it graduates to severe restriction of food for those afflicted with anorexia. Those who suffer from bulimia will binge on food and then self-induce vomiting, leading to fatal dehydration. Both anorexics and bulimics may also over-exercise, thus weakening their already fragile bodies.

The obsession with thinness in the frum world has much to do with shidduchim and looking perfect to get the perfect shidduch. Even before the days of pictures being utilized for shidduchim, mothers of young men would shamelessly ask the shadchan redting the shidduch of a young lady, “What size dress does she wear?” Lest, you think these mothers were all thin, that was not necessarily always the case. Oftentimes, even heavyset women had the chutzpah to turn down a lovely young lady on behalf of their sons because she wore a size the mothers felt was not thin enough for the son, who may in fact have been overweight himself.

As a shadchan, I cannot even count the many times that a young man was not attracted to a young lady who was thin and instead went for the one who is not thin. I see such scenarios happening at singles events frequently. There are plenty of women who get asked out on dates and they are far from thin. So, though there are men who prefer to date thin ladies, that does not speak for every man, regardless of his age. And for those men who will only date thin women, if that is their preference, it would be no different than a man who is only attracted to a particular hair or eye color in a woman. My issue is with the shadchanim or anyone who gets up in a public forum and tells women to lose weight in order to find a shidduch.

Who are the people that impose on you to lose 20 pounds? Do they have medical degrees? As for their prediction that you will find a husband if you lose the weight they assume you need to take off, are these people messengers of G-d to make that forecast? They are petty individuals who feel the need to blame their ineptitude in assisting young women with shidduchim on the very people they are assigned to help. It’s like an incompetent teacher who blames her or his students for not having learned anything during the term, rather than readjusting how she or he delivers the lessons.

When a shadchan comes across a situation where it appears there is a challenge in a specific area, it becomes the responsibility of the professional to try or suggest a different method. But blaming single women and telling them to lose weight is wrong and irresponsible.

Here are my questions for any shadchan who advises her heavyset or non-thin clients: “Why aren’t you finding husbands for all the thin women out there looking for a shidduch, and why are there so many thin, accomplished young ladies struggling to find their bashert?” The correct answer is because weight is not the determining factor that a woman will have an easy or difficult time finding her spouse.

My advice is to stay far away from anyone who makes you feel badly about yourself. Such an individual cannot possibly be partnering with Hashem in the holy endeavor of making shidduchim. How can you be proactive? In the first place, as long as you are healthy and you appreciate the way you look, that makes you a better candidate for marriage. The way people feel about themselves and their image is reflected in every area of life. A person who possesses healthy self-esteem makes the best impression. Such people are successful in school, work, and finding a marriage partner. What you feel inside is mirrored on your face and in your demeanor.

You have no obligation to date men you do not feel any attraction for, whether it’s physical or anything else. Heavyset women, as you describe yourself, find men who are appealing to them to date and marry. Look around your own community or any other community. You will see that not only do heavyset women get married, but many marry men who are not overweight.

You have the right to feel hurt by what people say, but please don’t internalize it anymore. Every woman must believe that just as Hashem created her to be a certain way, He has a husband for her to marry. The man who marries you, iy’H, will be a man who appreciates and admires you for who you are, as a beautiful woman in his eyes. Your husband will thank Hashem that He orchestrated the strategy for both of you to find each other.


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 Baila also hosts The Definitive Rap podcast for, Israel News Talk Radio, WVIP 93.5 FM HD2, and Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at


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