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Are arms the window to soul?

Author Paula Broadwell baring her sculpted arms and shoulders on “The Daily Show” in January.Comedy Central via reuters/file

Are the arms the window to the soul?

That’s the question the limb-obsessed are asking, as the General David Petraeus scandal unfolds. Do his mistress’s now-famous chiseled biceps send a message that goes beyond mere physical fitness?

As a local personal trainer put it: There’s a personality type that goes with those arms, and it’s not laid back.

“It takes a driven person,” said Teresa Winstead, who holds a Master’s degree in social research from University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of London. “And not only driven, but very deliberate.”

Whatever the case, since Paula Broadwell burst on the national scene as the now-former CIA director’s now-former lover, the mother of two and graduate the Kennedy School of Government has become almost as well-known for her sculpted arms as for her impressive resume: valedictorian of her high school class, homecoming queen, fitness champion at West Point, and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.

In January, Broadwell famously bested Jon Stewart in a push-up contest when she went on “The Daily Show” to promote her Petraeus biography, “All In.” On Monday night, several months — and one affair-revelation later — Stewart said he hadn’t pick up on the innuendo Broadwell was flinging because he was so focused on her arms. Broadwell had memorably shown them off in a top that revealed so much arm and shoulder musculature that it made Michelle Obama’s sleeveless dresses look like Church Lady attire.


“The whole time, I was just staring at how defined her arms were and trying to think of another version of my classic ‘I’m an asthmatic old Jew’ jokes!’ ” Stewart said.

As for the question, whose arms would you rather have, the first lady’s or Broadwell’s, the answer depends on what look you’re going for: “I’m fit” versus “look out.”


Beth Teitell can be reached at