Why Don't the Amish Like Having Their Picture Taken?
The Amish are very friendly and are quite happy to befriend non-Amish people. But when you’re in the mood to take a selfie, don’t ask to take a photograph with them! They will protest fiercely because they’re forbidden to photograph themselves or be photographed.
But why don’t the Amish like their picture taken? Is this purely due to cultural norms? Are there religious reasons for this baffling issue? So many questions have arisen surrounding this topic, which is why we’ve tackled it in depth in this article.
Before you head out to Amish country, get the facts about the Amish and photography. It’ll save you embarrassment and discomfort should you decide to get some Instagram-worthy snaps of your visit.
What this article covers:
How to Do Amish View Photography?
You probably have quite a collection of family photos, vacation snaps, and pictures commemorating special occasions. Perhaps they’re printed out and stuck in scrapbooks or photo albums, or framed and displayed on the mantelpiece. Most people nowadays store their pictures on their smartphones or flash drives.
If there’s one thing the Amish know about English, it’s this: they love taking photographs! Yes, that’s the Amish word for outsiders! The English. But that’s not the only peculiarity here. The Amish don’t share this love of the photograph.
So, what do Amish think of outsiders who come to Amish country, cameras at the ready? It makes them a little uneasy, and this is why. They worry that you’ll be taking candid shots of them, and they would rather you didn’t do that. They aren’t allowed to photograph themselves, either.
Is there an Amish Rule Against Having Pictures Taken?
There is a rule against having their pictures taken, and this is a rule that’s not likely to fall away in a hurry.
While slight differences in the interpretation of modesty and anti-vanity rules may exist between the ultra-conservative Old Order and more progressive New Order communities, this rule tends to remain.
Where Does the Rule Come From?
Firstly, this rule persists because Amish cultural norms have remained virtually unchanged for centuries. In a culture based on principles of humility and piety, attention-seeking behavior is discouraged. Dressing to impress and taking photographs of themselves are viewed in this way.
Secondly, it continues with each passing year because it ties into their religious views on vanity. But what are these views, and what is their origin?
Amish Views on Vanity
Vanity is a sinful trait that the Amish seek to avoid at all costs. As hurtful as they find all the Amish stereotypes that circulate, they’re not willing to compromise on their modesty and avoidance of vanity.
This is why they dress in such understated clothing, avoid embellishment and ornamentation, have faceless dolls, and even stay clear of the camera lens.
So, why do the Amish pull their teeth at a young age and get dentures if not to have perfect teeth for snapshots? The actual reason behind this common practice is more a case of being frugal. Because of the high costs of lifelong dental care, they prefer to dispense with these costs all at once.
They hold biblical texts that call for frugal living in high regard. And the commandment to avoid graven images is taken very seriously. That is why you’ll also never see an Amish person painting a self-portrait or sculpting a statue of one of their elders.
Their strict views on vanity might be very different from your own. A simple item of jewelry like a beautiful wristwatch or ornate wedding band would be seen as a show of pride or vanity. They are not allowed to wear these items at all!
Why Don't Amish Dolls Have Faces?
Can the Amish receive gifts from the English? Yes, as long as those gifts don’t conflict with their norms and values. But before you rush out and buy their children toys, you’d better remember this: their dolls don’t have faces.
The reason why Amish people don’t photograph themselves is partly related to the fact that Amish dolls have no faces. Without faces, Amish dolls can’t be used as symbols of pride and vanity. They can’t be used to boast to other children; they’re simply children’s playthings and nothing more.
This is why the Amish prefer to make their dolls. But that’s just one of the beautiful handmade items you’ll find in an Amish community.
Amish Baskets - Capture The Memory In Wicker
The Amish don’t only make their clothes and dolls themselves. They also make their furniture, quilts, and handwoven homewares out of wicker. Here at Amish Baskets, you can see the fruits of their labor, which the Amish community sells to provide an income for their families.
Everything from cute Easter baskets to more functional items for everyday use, like wicker storage baskets for shelves, is available. And yes, even the iconic faceless Amish dolls and charming doll furniture are for sale.
So instead of taking a few pictures the next time you want to capture the memory of a visit to Amish country, try something different. Preserve that memory with a handmade treasure from Amish Baskets. Unlike a photograph, it’ll support the continuation of Amish culture and add value to your home, too.
The Amish have rules that they abide by, which may seem a bit strange to outsiders. One of these is the rule against being photographed.
Understanding the reasons why Amish don’t like their picture taken prevents misunderstandings and contributes to greater cross-cultural friendships.
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