Diet Diary: Fat, Revolution, and Marriage.

With my father at my wedding.

It’s Wednesday, weigh-in day, and I’m down another kilo. This week it was especially difficult because I was feeling a little depressed. We eat the most when we feel sorry for ourselves. And believe me, we Iranians have good reason to feel sorry for ourselves. A whole lifetime of trying to console myself with food brought me to the edge of paralysis. This time around I didn’t let it happen. I got very depressed, very morose about the future, but I didn’t make myself a big feast to calm me down. Instead, I cooked and didn’t eat and it made me feel better, the not eating. The pleasure of feeding others is just as great without the long term damages.

Cooking, I find, can be very therapeutic during a diet. Instead of making me want to eat cooking makes me see food as arts and crafts material. In this way, I still love food but for less self-destructive and more artistic reasons.

My daughter took a psychology class her first year in college, some thirty-five years or so after the Iranian revolution, and she came home and diagnosed me with PTSD. “I’ve never been to war,” I told her. She said in that impatient, young-speak intonation, “mom, the Revolution.” I told her, “but, that was thirty plus years ago,” she quickly tells me, some people are damaged by it their whole lives. I tell her that the 2009 Election Uprising is closer and the disappointment was worse in many ways. She says, in her matter of fact American accent, “no mom, you didn’t lose your home that time around.”

All this, not to make excuses for why I have a big weight problem, but to tell you that the chances of relapse are higher if you wallow in self-pity. That is why fat is a class issue. Just drive through any low income neighborhood in America or Europe and see. For the first time in history the poor are fatter than the rich. Forget the income gap the caloric one kills. Obviously, if you have a well-paying job chances are you don’t sink into self-pity as much, not to mention, having access to better products.

But there is always something to make you feel bad no matter how rich you are. In my experience people who expect too much are the unhappiest. Have you seen the pictures of brides who look all svelte and a year or two later you can’t recognize them, they have gained so much weight? They all suffer from the marriage blues like I did and they are swallowing their pain. This illness, no one speaks about much because everyone is too busy blaming themselves. Also, I don’t know about others, but for my mom, unless the guy was hitting me and dating my best friend, he could do no wrong. There is no where to go to complain about being bored to death or feeling unloved. Those things you are supposed to just suck up. I hope that has changed since I was a young woman.

Most women in first marriages are unhappy. Because they have an unrealistic view of marriage as something romantic. Men are well prepared; heck they send their brethren off to their wedded life as if they are sending them to war. For men marriage is jocularly seen as a form of imprisonment or death. But women act like women who are about to get married have been struck by luck, they are the chosen ones, envied by all. The wedding itself takes on satirical proportions for young brides. It has become a veritable industry based on the warped view of marriage, by young women and promoted by almost all societies, as an achievement. So, of course young women are set up to fail because of their unrealistic view of marriage.

From the grandness of the wedding one can tell what degree of disappointment is in store for the girl. Girls, save the money for a big wedding for that fat farm you are going to need! Forget the baby blues, the after-the-wedding blues are worse. If women want to be less unhappy than men, they should try to adopt the same view of marriage as men: as a milestone in one’s life not an achievement.

I’ve rarely seen a woman happy in those first years of marriage. Their disappointment is palpable. Women are happiest when they give up their romantic notion of their husbands and marriages. The sooner the better. If they get to that level of lucidity the marriage not only survives but thrives. For me, it was truly horrible. You don’t talk about it, but that first year of marriage was just the most disappointing year of my life. For men marriage is not a romantic event they are less often the victims of delusion in this matter.

Many try to get over the disappointment of marriage by having children. Another big mistake, because if marriage is a mere disappointment having children is a nightmare, at least until they go to college. I’ve said this often and I truly believe that my children are the best decisions I made in my life. They give my life meaning and I love them more than myself. But, the experience, especially the first few years is anything but great. If they tell you that it is some sort of life-affirming spiritual renaissance, they are lying. If with marriage you give up some of your freedoms with children, you become a veritable slave. Or maybe a cow then a slave. If they tell you anything else, they are part of a vast patriarchal conspiracy as old as time.

So, if you don’t want to get fat look at marriage like a man.

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