Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nose Job = Shidduch?

The Groggers have released their newest single / music video "Jewcan Sam (A Nose Job Love Song)." I like the music, though the lyrics/theme may be a bit much for me. The ending of the story is a little too borderline sketchy for me... but The Groggers' style tends to push the envelope.

Parenthetically, I think the video is funny for presenting the storyline that the guy is the one who needs a nose job, when I typically associate nose jobs being more popular with female folk.

This video brings to mind an interesting and not-often discussed topic: plastic surgery for the sake of getting married.

There ARE stories out there of people "fixing" one little thing about their appearance that then facilitated a successful shidduch. In "The Art of the Date," the section referring to maintaining physical fitness and upkeep of one's looks mentions the story of a girl who asked a guy to have his ears pinned back and a nose job as well (I think - I need to dig up my copy to confirm). After he agreed to her request, they got married and lived "happily ever after."

I once went out with someone who had an element of her facial appearance that I simply could not get over. Every time I went out on a date, I did my best not to focus on that aspect of her visage, but I kept finding myself indadvertendly staring/looking away. I honestly was repulsed enough to consider ending the shidduch because of it. My friend, who was serving as my shadchan talked me out of my hysteria, and after being apart from the girl for a few days due to a school vacation, I decided to give it one more shot.

I mustered up my courage, cleared my mind of all preconceived prejudices against her looks - after all, most everything else, like hashkafa, life goals, etc matched up well - and went on another date.

But in the end, I couldn't keep going out with her. I kept imagining what it would be like to wake up and feel that sense of revulsion boiling up from within the repressed recesses of my mind. I agonized over the decision, but I ended the shidduch.

As many readers know, I was not obsessed with looks when I was dating. I understand, rationally, with the appropriate degree of seriousness, the physical appearances DO matter. You can't try to be a tzadik/tzadaikess and marry someone you feel repulsed by when you think about their looks. No matter how many other things match up on paper or in person, if their appearance continuously turns you off, there's nothing you can really do about it.

Or is there?

Setting aside ridiculous suggestions such as a plethora of plastic surgery operations that would totally reconfigure the look of a person's face, would you ever consider suggesting a more minor cosmetic procedure to a person who you otherwise find fit to marry?

How about a nose job? Eyelid lift? Ears pinned back? Chin reduction? Scar/birthmark removal? Neck wattle removal? What about braces for someone with crooked teeth?

Yes, all these things cost money, time, and are accompanied by a measurement of suffering to one degree or another - but if you're sure this person is the one with the exception of this small physical "imperfection," would you have the guts to talk about it?

Or is it better to be able to fully accept him/her for who they are, warts and all as they say?


  1. But there is also the option that that which you could not look past would not be an issue for another man. You are married now, so maybe you were just not meant to end up with this woman. It doesn't mean that because you couldn't handle it, she has to get surgery.

    When one interacts on a personal level, instead of simply aesthetics, then many physical characteristics pale in comparison to personality.

    If someone is concerned about how strangers will perceive them, that is one thing. But in terms of "happily ever after" with one special someone, it shouldn't be necessary.

  2. For the record, I have no regrets over ending that shidduch.

    Your comments make sense, but my case was also different from the one I'm theoretically discussing since we had only gone out 4-5 times. What if you've been able to go out with someone for a significant amount of time, because they match what you're looking for, but at the same time you are repressing some sort of revulsion because of a particular physical trait?

    Certainly when someone looks to get married to someone, they need to be able to accept the person for their positive and negative aspects of who they are. But, being human, what if there is something like this, that is relatively unimportant, that keeps popping up as a red flag for you? It's not like asking him/her to change an ingrained habit that may never get better/go away. A minor physical attraction issue that could be solved by cosmetic surgery would nip the issue in the bud permanently.

    Is THAT worth considering on any level?

    1. I don't think so. I don't think an engagement should be based on "I love you, you're perfect, now change." That should come later, when you are living together and get on each other's nerves. To tell a girl, to her face, "I think we can have a future. But it will involve elective surgery"? C'mon. It's just not meant to be. And it's not worth ruining her self-esteem over.

      Sometimes that little thing can be the omen that this relationship should be ended. If it becomes a trend, that no woman is pleasing to your eyes, that is something else.

      My sister was dating a guy for a long time; they were practically engaged. She loved talking to him on the phone, but she really couldn't stand looking at him in person. He wasn't even necessarily bad looking, but there was something about him she didn't quite like. She didn't seem to think that was enough to call it off, but eventually he did. They married other people, and I can say that she is happy.

    2. I definitely hear you - and I agree that you're describing what should be the norm. I'm still wondering if this ever really happens.

      The only time I'd ever heard of it was "The Art of the Date" and now the fact that the Groggers are writing a humorous song about the topic seems to indicate that it's a bigger trend than we might imagine. I have no clue how common a practice this is, and I hope there are some readers out there who can share their stories, if they have any.

  3. There's actually a fair bit of Halachic discussion about the permissibility of undergoing cosmetic surgery to enhance one's desirability as a potential mate.

    1. Thank you for posting the link. I did a bit of googling before I posted to see if anyone else had written about this, and all I found was an offhand remark to Rav Ovadia being maykil.

  4. I dated a girl who looked nice when you looked at her straight on but from the side had a profile that made me shudder. Fortunately she was also a little psychopathic so the relationship never went anywhere but the point is that physical appearance is part of a relationship. Why are we told what the Imahos looked like? Why are new brides allowed to wash their faces during the Three Weeks?
    If you find a person intellectually engaging but not physically attractive there will be problems later on.
    And the opposite is true. The hottie you have nothing in common with won't be your soulmate either.

    1. I think you sum things up nicely. Your last remarks sum up the conclusion of the video well - I guess that despite the story in The Art of The Date, this issue is really a moot point.


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