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Itsy-Bitsy Subject

It’s an open secret that the NPC is talking about adding a bikini division to its full range of women’s physique competitions in 2009. At least it was a secret last summer, when everyone who divulged it started by whispering, “It’s a secret, but.…” By the fourth such conversation I knew it was just the organization’s way of building suspense.

Now it is upon us, almost. I’m guessing things will become official after the officials hold their annual meeting at the Nationals in a couple of weeks. So now the most common question asked among fans who have too much time on their hands is, What exactly is bikini going to be? I found myself in one such conversation recently.

“I don’t know what to think about it,” admitted one press pit denizen, who asked to remain nameless after he made several humorous responses of a sexist nature that didn’t go over big. I had to agree with him though.

As a thinking woman, it’s all I can do to keep from screaming, “Oh, no! Not another opportunity for women to stand in skimpy swim suits and heels and do nothing.” But it’s a tide I don’t have the strength to rage against, and besides, it’s a free country. The popularity of bikini events in other organizations makes it practically mandatory for the NPC to get onboard.

Where exactly will the physiques fall in that full range of development mentioned above? Somewhere between figure and model search, perhaps? Or maybe “model search” will be exactly what they’re looking for. Come to think of it, maybe the difference between a “bikini contest” and a “model search” is actually just the prize. The winner of a model search gets to be a model, right?

Will looks count? How could they not? Whatever standards the new bikini division put forth, however, the line between it and figure is bound to be blurred, and it doesn’t take a crystal ball to know that we’re in for an era of crossover numbers heretofore unseen. We’re also likely in for longer nights at the finals, although there’s a rumor—I said *rumor—that they’ll make time for bikini by eliminating the one-piece-swimsuit comparisons. If that’s true, I won’t be mourning the loss, but it does get me wondering if bikini bikinis will be completely different from the standard figure two-piece.

There’s a lot more than crossover possibilities at stake (what if someone entered fitness, figure and bikini?). Women already outnumber men in the NPC. (If you doubt it, add the competitor lists at national shows.) Bikini could swell those ranks fuller than a pair of D-cup bosoms in an A-cup bra, something I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of. Yes, the babes’ll be bustin’ out all over, as will the promoters’ coffers, along with the supplement makers’, suit makers’, trainers’, gurus’ et al.—a cynical way of looking at it, but you can’t help noticing. Not that that’s a bad thing—it’s all about more people being fit, right?

Another approach would be to suggest that the NPC simply favors choice for women. When it comes to physical development, no matter how big you want to get—or how small—have they got a contest for you.

Crossover potential? Jerry Fredrick caught this backstage shot of four bikini model search contestants during ’08 Olympia Weekend. I don’t know them all, but Danyell Johnson (left) was a regular at the national figure shows last summer.

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