This morning while flipping through the paper, I found an article that quite unsettled me.
It was in the New York Times Science section, stating how the rates of eating disorders are now higher in the observant Jewish community then in the non-Jewish world at large. Two factors were suggested - the insane shadchanim that, supposedly on their male clientele's behalf, demand size 0-4, and the pressure of being a primary breadwinner and mother in sitting and learning households.
I am angry because if these two factors are the reasons for such a trend, which can easily become matters of life and death, then these are pretty weak excuses, in my view. I am angry that so many girls have such little self-esteem that they would succumb to such drastic measures. Who are the adults in their lives?
I have been dating for six years and counting; never has a shadchan inquired as to my size (and I am certainly not a 0-4). If a shadchan ever would call up inquiring such a thing, the phone would be politely slammed down. Additionally, I know that I would not be capable of being a primary breadwinner as well as a mother, so I insist on dating only men who work or are in the process of eventual employment (I am well aware that there are women who are capable of doing everything, possessing boundless energy and able to have a job and take care of the home; but not all women are like that, nor is it fair to expect it of everyone).
After the Holocaust, it became the slogan: "Never again will we be led like lambs to the slaughter!" I find that comparison to be offensive, as well as inaccurate; those who speak it possess the smug confidence of hindsight. For what are many of us today if not sheep? Sheep go where they are led, not necessarily always to the slaughterhouse. Sometimes just for a good shearing.
"Sheepiness" ranges from the harmless - girls buying clothing that don't suit them simply because it's the current trend, to the dangerous - girls starving themselves. A few of eating disorder cases can be chalked up to be to due to inexplicable mental issues; but for the rate to be higher than the non-Jewish world, where anorexic models shimmy with open abandon? It can't be the fault of the media that there are frum teenagers living on a diet of chewing gum.
I know from a social worker working with the frum community that there are many yingvarblach whose babies are hungry. The mothers starve themselves, and the infants starve too.
I am sure the Eibishter can also use the argument, "If everyone was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you too?" It shouldn't go so far. Peer pressure should remain in the confines of innocent shoe purchases.
I hope it is not because of the reasons in the article that such a travesty is occurring. But if it is, it should be remembered that everyone has a bashert, and that bashert would not demand ill health or mental breakdowns.