People often ask me what it is like to be up on stage, very scantily clad and fully cognizant of the fact that I am being scrutinized by a panel of judges. There is so much about competing that is appealing, fascinating and inspiring, but there are also many strange and frustrating elements which competitors deal with which can challenge their determination in the sport.
The thrill of strutting out onstage and showing off a hard-earned physique is incredibly empowering, especially when a competitor gets first call-out. The obvious physical transformation is invariably accompanied by an emotional and spiritual overhaul. The audience sees the best of this since they are attending a show. But the backstage world which they don’t see is incredibly colorful and revealing.
Before the competition, many competitors look like hoodlums, bums or like they just crawled out of bed, clad in baggy, dark clothing. The dark skin hues which competitors must sport are more reminiscent of mahogany furniture than human skin. Food coolers are packed with chicken, nut butter, rice cakes, and possibly booze for the celebration afterwards. Every show starts out with a mad scramble after the morning meeting for a prime spot backstage to prep. The ladies cluster around the few full-length mirrors that have been placed around the perimeter of the room. The men cluster around the weights.
It can be maddening and stressful to be in the company of competitors who are so carb-depleted that they are cranky, forgetful and unable to focus on basic streams of conversation. Some are so weak and dehydrated that they are on the verge of passing out. A competitor may have a meltdown because his music cd was misplaced. The overpowering odor of spray tanner admixed with the telltale gaseous emissions of very high protein diets is commonplace. Some abdominals are grossly distended by creatine bloat. A competitor may be freaking out because of a broken suit strap, or makeup being spilled onto a suit, now ruining it…with no backup suit on hand. There are meltdowns with makeup and hair. There are lost earrings and shoes. The fear of water exposure is at an all-time high.
Then once everyone is prepped, there is the interminable wait. When a division and class are announced, there is a mad scramble to get in line. Individuals who bring Bikini Bite suddenly become the most popular people backstage.
Then suddenly a competitor is onstage. Somehow all the stress from being backstage, from dieting and training for months all melts away as that person now has a chance to do turns and show off a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. Those few moments make it all worthwhile.