Miss Universe 2015 contestants looking fierce in their swimsuits.
Within the last pageant season, we have seen some major changes in the body types of girls competing in different systems. Miss America has become more curvy and Miss USA is more fit. But we throw around words like “fit,” “healthy,” and even “overweight” without clarifying what we actually mean. I want to break these words down and show the trend across pageants.
This is what difference body fat percentages look like. Instead of judging health based on weight, which can be very misleading based on height and muscle mass, we like to use body fat percentage in the fitness industry to get the best measurement of body composition. Based on reports from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, women should never really drop below 12% because that is when your hormones start to change.
However, elite athletes and fitness competitors generally drop lower when they get close to a competition. Anything within 18-20% is considered “fit”. This is where most athletes reside on a regular basis. Girls at around 21-25% are considered “normal” or “healthy”.
Girls at 26-29% are considered “overweight” and are more likely to have health issues. Anyone at or over 30% is considered "obese". Most girls reading this will fall within the “healthy” range. But I want to point out that body types we may consider “curvy” are actually “overweight” and are more likely to develop health issues. The average American female is around 33% body fat and is therefore "obese". The reality is that a majority of Americans are obese and are more likely to develop chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.
Now that we have defined words like “fit”, “healthy”, “normal” and “overweight” what does this mean for pageant girls? As a blanket statement within the last few years, the Miss USA ideal body type has changed from skinny and modelesque to more fit. These girls fall within the ranges of “fit” and “healthy" and carry a fat percentage of around 18-20%. Conversely, the Miss America body type has continued to become more curvy. These girls tend to fit within the ranges of “healthy” and “normal” and fall within a fat percentage range of around 21-25%.
My prediction for the future is that Miss USA will remain very fit and lean while Miss America will continue to represent a more normal and curvy body type. The reason I wanted to share the difference in body fat percentages and how pageants have changed over the years is because I wanted to put it all in perspective. It is easy to call girls "too skinny" or "too big" while watching the pageants on TV or even when you are competing against these girls, but what do “too skinny” and “too big” look like?
With the rise in health-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, it is important that we know the differences and stay within the healthy range. You can test your body fat by using a skinfold, or caliper test, or an electric pulse machine. The caliper tests are more accurate but should be conducted by a fitness professional. Scales and handheld body fat readers that send electric charges through your body are much less accurate but easier to use. I suggest if you don’t know what your body fat percentage is to go and get an accurate reading done.
You may be surprised, and it could make a huge difference for your health. We highly suggest finding a personal trainer who can help you get an accurate measurement of your body fat percentage and who can help you look and feel your best for the day of your competition. Let's look at how body types have changed over the course of pageant history.
Miss America 1961 Swimsuit
Miss USA 1980
Miss America 2007 swimsuit
Miss South Carolina 2015 swimsuit
Remember to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle to maintain a healthy body fat percentage. You don't want to be too low or too high on the spectrum. To find a personal trainer to help you get the perfect swimsuit body, click here.
Her tip is: "Never compare yourself to other contestants!"Learn More