As the weather warms up and the sun starts to peek out with an encouraging frequency, once again we start to consider our Spring/Summer wardrobes, perhaps start to ponder where we might take our summer holiday and of course you girls out there know what this adds up to…It’s bikini body time!

In this article I’m not going to deliver a bikini workout, but want to take the opportunity to reflect on one of the more recent developments in the competition calendar – the bikini category.

This has had a foothold in America for some time but was slower to catch on in Europe. However, in recent times Bikini Competitions have taken off and they have filled a sizeable void – for women who didn’t want to go the perceived extremes (and looks) of serious fitness/physique and bodybuilding, but who nevertheless wanted to apply themselves to something, focus on a goal, give themselves a challenge and provide a very real target and purpose for their training.

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Speaking as somebody who competed around the world in fitness competitions, it has been interesting to keep an eye on this new evolution. I have been approached to act as a judge which, if my diary and geographical positioning allows, will be a very interesting experience. But I suspect that, although this body contest opens the field up to many more women, far more so than Fitness or Physique competitions , I think it might be the hardest to judge.

Firstly, all the lovely bodies are extremely individual and beauty, as ever, is in the eye of the beholder. How do you compare a fine set of elegant legs, neat hips and a small bust with an hour glass figure, with sexy hips and fine breasts? By opinion no doubt, as there will be so much variety of shapely loveliness that how can you possible choose one to win over another?

Joey Bull Bikini competition _2

It still seems that Miss World celebrates the notion of ‘beauty’ according to the individual country’s perception beauty.  But of course those ideas change from country to country and continent to continent.  So getting the competitors to talk and display a hint of their personality was the way forward. In the middle of the century, bikini beauty moved onto Beauty With a Purpose, allowing for a small test in intelligence and character.

It is interesting to see how what we see as beauty has changed with fashion. Looking back at the girls in the early part of the last century who showed up for these pageants, I’m not sure they’d get asked for a dance at a nightclub now. Features were different; harder, pointier and thinner lipped. Today it is different. Apparently full lips, less cheekbone and a forehead that doesn’t move is desirable!

It seems that despite the blood, sweat and tantrums it takes to compete in fitness, figure or body building, it is much easier to judge. And that is why I picked to do it myself.

It doesn’t matter that you are no genetic beauty, the skill is in getting everything right in training, eating and performance  to be rounded and symmetrically balanced. Whether small, tall, stunning or unlikely to be a cover model, all could have a crack at it – if you worked your butt off!

Compared to our American cousins, the Brits have always cringed at pageants and related competitions  and as a result they have not gathered a particularly big following. Our beauty queens are bona fide celebrities in some countries but almost entirely anonymous in their homeland.  Step outside Britain and you’ll see how well supported each country’s competitor is.

My four national titles were well supported in terms of competing girls and the standard of competition but, initially there was little fanfare and little attention outside that community.

By the time I won my fourth and decided to call it a day, things were changing but it was a slow process.  I was getting decent attention across the print and broadcast media and I thought things were going pretty well in that regard.

That was until I competed against Miss Fitness Hungary on her own territory. Her presence alone ensured a large 2,500+ seater auditorium was sold out and reduced to standing room only.  I’m not even sure if my own coach was there for me! Miss Hungary was an icon and plastered all over Budapest.

So despite having competed in fitness categories to an elite international level, I suspect judging a bikini competition might be prove trickier! I do like the fact they exist though. They are becoming increasingly prevalent and many of the federations have embraced this category.

If the idea of ‘bulking up’  for bodybuilding and physique makes you shudder and the almost Olympic training commitment of Fitness just isn’t a practical or attractive proposition, but you want a new goal, target and aim. A stimulus that gives added meaning to your training and ensures that you strive to look and feel the best you can – then bikini competition might just be for you. And who knows…You may look out from the stage and see me on the judging panel!

* Photography Andres Lesauvage – www.photofit.tv

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