If you’re a fan of female bodybuilding, Figure or bikini and have ever been to a competition or seen competitors’ show photos online, you probably think the competitor on stage looks a bit glam. The tan! The bikinis! The smiles, and sparkles, and stage lighting!
Want to know the truth about what goes into looking so smiley and slick for those few minutes on stage?
I ran a quick poll of female friends, asking them about the weird habits and pre-show rituals you probably wouldn’t expect, added my own and, well, here goes…
Gluing yourself in
Those posing suits we wear are small. And… well… things move about a bit when you’re posing. Can you even imagine if something fell out? Truly the stuff of nightmares. So the solution is to actually physically stick your suit to your boobs and bum. With glue.
Or getting someone else to glue you!
Actually the solution is to get someone else to do it. Particularly your bum. Honestly, by that point, you’ve probably been tanned up (naked) by a stranger, near-stranger or a member of your family who hoped and prayed they’d never see you naked as an adult. You’ve likely got changed in front of a group of strangers. And you’ve possibly stood on a set of scales, wearing minimal clothes, in front of a queue of men and women. The bum/glue thing is really nothing by that point.
The problem of weeing…
What’s the problem with weeing? Well, it can… um… splash. Or splish. Just a little bit, but a little bit is all it takes to create water marks on your beautiful tan. The solution…. ?
Weeing into a cup
Yes, you wee into a little cup (or a sports-bottle, one of my friends told me), stop weeing, tip it out and then do it again as many times as you need to til you’re done. True fact right there.
The other weeing into a cup
I compete in natural – drug tested – bodybuilding. If you’re called for a drug test, as I was (at random) on Sunday, and as all winners are after the placings are given, you’ll need to wee into a cup. The process is all heavily monitored (so you can’t ever say that anyone tampered with your wee sample). So, you end up weeing into a cup, in front of a federation official. Needs must!
Protecting your tan at all costs
Need to brush your teeth? Better hope you don’t splash one droplet of water on your tan. Need to wash up the mountains of tupperware, chopping boards, pans and dishes you’ve created during the final few days of food prep? Tough luck. Best to leave them til you get back from your show. Far better to return to a kitchen full of dirty dishes than to run the risk of splashing about in a sink of suds whilst you’re tanned up.
Which means… no showering
Oh yeah. Don’t hug your favourite female bodybuilding competitor and expect her to smell of rose petals and baby kittens in a basket. She probably won’t have showered for around 48 hours, so all she’ll smell like is tan (and possible “The Sweat of Fear” – you know that smell)
And did you know we can’t wear deodorant (let alone perfume)?
She certainly won’t smell of anything as civilised as underarm deodorant. Anti-perspirant (and perfume, and perfumed body lotions) can react with stage tan and make you look green (my arm pits were a bit green on Sunday and I’ve no idea why since I didn’t use anything on my skin for days previously). We’d rather stink than be green!
Vaseline on your teeth
I personally do not put Vaseline on my teeth but a friend told me that this is something which happens. I guess if you know you get a dry mouth, it’ll help you smile! smile! smile! even when your lips are sticking to your teeth because your mouth is suddenly like the Sahara.
Brown body, white face
We tend not to tan our faces, just our bodies. Which means that, in the days leading up to the show – and once we’ve had that blissful post-show shower – we look…. quite a fright. Very very brown bodies, including neck and arms. White face. Nice look!
Odd makeup selection
We do need to make our faces brown for stage, of course. So what we tend to do is use foundation which is designed for black skin. Yes, really. I use a Maybelline mousse foundation – the darkest in the range. Obviously I don’t use this at any other time of year. It’s going to last me quite some time…
Aching, tired and thirsty… but we come to life on stage!
If you found yourself backstage peeking into the dressing room, you’d find a bunch of brown women with their feet up, reading, Tweeting, trying to nap and generally hanging out. It’s not hugely exciting. As the day goes on we start to ache, we’re tired, we’re probably thirsty. Yet get us on stage and tell us to pose and we come to life!
And the tanning aftermath…
Those tans take a while to come off. Like… weeks. There are various stages of post-comp tan, ranging from the delightful “scaly reptilian” to the slightly worrying “leprosy 2.0″. It comes off in the end. Usually in patches. Plan ahead if you have a wedding to attend.
So, now you know why the top three things a female bodybuilding competitor will want to do once she’s off-stage will be:
- drink something
- eat something
- and SHOWER!
And probably not in that order!
If you have a female bodybuilder in your life, you could do a lot worse than buying her a small pot of lovely-smelling, really scrubby bodyscrub for her backstage competition bag. I guarantee it’ll be gratefully put to good use!
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.