Paul Ryan: Way too fit to be Vice-President? An Italian woman's point of view.

  Body Fat
   By Annalena Benini (Translated by Leonardo Pavese) 

   Women, be suspicious right away of a man who, on the first date (or in an interview, for that matter), starts telling you about his percentage of body fat. Forty-year-old Paul Ryan, the United States Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, and fitness addict (particularly of a program called P90X, which promises to get a six-pack out of even the most flaccid belly), says that his percentage of body fat is 6 %; and that would be laughable just for the fact it is a lie. Even though Paul Ryan is fit and thin, and he's a devotee of that discipline which consists of training, dvd's, daily mirror examinations in which to wiggle the biceps, protein base nutrition, no sweets, no alcohol and, as he himself has enthusiastically said: "A muscular confusion, which hits the body in several different ways," the experts say that he's dreaming about a 6 % of body fat, even more than he's dreaming about the Vice-Presidency of the United States. That 6 % is the reward for the Olympic 100-meter race runners, for boxers, wrestlers and world class marathon runners.

  Before the races, the Tour de France bicycle racers try to get down to about 8 % or 9 % of body fat; while professional swimmers, with their statuesque bodies, compared to the percentage of body fat which Mr. Ryan boasts about, would be just sedentary devourers of junk food. 
   Therefore, having established that Ryan's was almost certainly a wild exaggeration (like his boasting of having run a marathon in two hours and fifty minutes, while the hours were truly four and the race was called the Grandmothers' Marathon), why oh why a man who's not a professional personal trainer would know his body mass index? Could it be that also Paul Ryan forces his wife to grill chicken breasts every night, and to listen to his account of his feats on the treadmill? And to pinch his body fat with tweezers and a caliper?

   It's really nice that Mr. Ryan has all that time to devote to his fitness and his pectoral muscles, hoping maybe that Vogue will offer him to feature his bare-chested photographs, before the November elections (it's still a mystery: is there really a six-pack under that Brooks Brothers shirt?); but this male obsession with fitness is worse than the Dukan Diet! 
   A man who touches lightly a woman's arm, not to flirt but to check its firmness, can be very annoying; like a man who only eats white meat; who depilates, better to see the darting of his muscles in the bathroom's mirror; who, before booking a hotel room, must make sure that there's a gym equipped with a sauna and an Olympic size swimming pool, for his daily seventy laps. And he can even be dangerous, in case he proposes to you, girl, a hike in the Andes, just to put that lean mass of his to the test.
   Male fitness, and all its accessories (tight spandex, shiny T-shirts, purpose built shoes, breathing sweat-proofs tops, gym bags capable of holding corpses, gym friends, gym dinner parties) should never be flaunted. And if one just can't resist the last best thing, as far as buttocks are concerned, one should at least swear never to utter, in front of the nation, or in front of a woman, the words: body fat mass.

Annalena Benini 
writes for the Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio. 


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