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30 Aug

“There are people whose parents encouraged them to get liposuction or other plastic surgery to conform to a certain body, to [increase] their chances of getting married."Bateman agrees: “I hear from matchmakers over and over that the number one question men are asking is, ' What size is she? '” And, according to Weiss-Greenberg, not only is the weight of the prospective date of interest, but “people ask the weight of the mother because [they] want to know what [their] future wife will look like.” Ironically, this focus on women's shapes and sizes proliferates even though Orthodox dating itself doesn't allow for physical contact between the sexes. I do believe most women are trying to lose weight in response, [though].”“In the times of the Talmud, there's an example from thousands of years ago that women would wear choker necklaces…to accentuate the fat on their neck, so that they would look healthier, heavier, more affluent, and more attractive,” Devorah Levinson, a referral specialist and the director of eating disorders at Relief Resources, which helps Orthodox Jews find culturally and religiously sensitive mental health services, tells SELF.Currently, Sara is in the thick of the Orthodox matchmaking world. “If we fast-forward to post-World War II, to be thin was to be sick, so [mothers] wanted their Jewish daughters to look heavier.Even though she’s a professional fitness trainer, because she is not textbook thin (she described herself as “a plus-sized woman” to one matchmaker), she is regularly told she should lose weight to increase her marriage prospects.“I have definitely gotten, ‘You know, if you lose weight, it will be easier to find guys who will go out with you,’ ” she says. The system of [matchmaking] has remained pretty much the same throughout—but what has shifted now is the vision of beauty.”Levinson argues that the unhealthy focus on thinness is a testament to the power of mainstream media images.She points to how “ubiquitous the thin ideal is that even in this insular community these messages have come across—even with people who don't have television and don't have access to the internet, this message of [the] thin ideal has seeped in so deeply.”In the Orthodox community, not only can size hinder one’s marriage prospects, but so can the stigma of having received treatment for an eating disorder.

But she’s playing the dating game with a handicap: divorced parents, which make her less of a catch in the eyes of traditional matchmakers. These new projects are hardly the first attempts to use the Internet to promote Jewish marital bliss.Sara* can't remember a time in her life when she wasn’t on a diet.In fact, growing up in her Orthodox Jewish community, trying to lose weight was as routine as any other ritual.And shadchans often rely on "resumés" of women—a list of information about her upbringing, family, schooling, and even references to vouch for her character—to give to men (and often their mothers) to determine if they should meet for a date.But other questions are asked about the prospective girl that aren’t listed on the paper."It happens on a very regular basis,” she says.