Women’s bodybuilding has had a turbulent maturation. From the days of names like Rachel McLish and Kike Elomaa (the earliest Ms. Olympia winners), whom looked just like shapely, dieted-down runners to the square-jawed, extremely-muscled mesomorphs currently placing on the pro scene, there has yet to be a consistent look that competitors can strive for and come into a contest knowing they will win. Judging standards have taken stutter-steps: advancing towards greater muscularity; retreating back to more feminine shapeliness. Consistently, they bewilder competitors by switching the emphasis extreme definition, feminine lines, muscle size each taking their turn as the preeminent standard with little rhyme, reason or advance warning.
In an attempt to please everyone, the NPC (progressively following in the footsteps of Britain’s NABBA organization) segmented female competition based on the physical ideal each competitor worked towards. They added first a female fitness category
This seemed to be a workable solution. But, the forces of entropy being what they are, the judging criteria of fitness and figure competitions, which seemed like such a final solution to the female bodybuilding versus public marketability, soon suffered from the same murky standards. Competitors at state and local level competitions began to win with physiques that would easily outmuscle the aforementioned early Ms.. Olympias. Reading the historical signs, officials warned the excessive mass would be counted against in judging. Next, judges warned fitness and figure competitors to avoid excessive muscular definition. Since the same judges that officiated over the male and female bodybuilding also judged fitness and figure, the criteria often wavered. Competitors pulling back on their diets on the past few days before a show in order to avoid muscle striations sometimes found themselves cursing when the fickle judging panels rewards victory to a more shredded opponent.