Now I may not BE Ms. Bikini Olympia but I damn sure feel like it, girls! I have never been so happy with my complete show day look until this one. There really is just no feeling like stepping out on stage, much less the Superbowl, and feeling like a million bucks. Everything is on point, the audience is huge, stage lights are on, and you are there, ready to shine and show all that hard work off. Chills. There was no placing for me at this Olympia but I just couldn’t help but walk away feeling like a winner. Everything was just perfect.
Of course, competing in the NPC/IFBB Bikini division, it’s all about the physique. However, there is far more that goes into creating that “total package” look. I have competed over 100 times in eight years, seven years as a pro, four pro wins, and five Olympias…that’s a lot of looks! Ha-ha. I feel like I’m telling my age here too, which AH, makes me want to cry. Okay, moving on! That’s a lot of trial and error and trust me, that’s exactly what it took. Did you know that when I first started competing, I did my own makeup? YIKES! It wasn’t bad per se but it wasn’t the glam I get these days. It was also a major pain in the ass. I’ll never go back to that.
The bikini division is forever growing and evolving. It has changed drastically since I first started to compete in 2010 when the division was only a year old. Back in the day, we could wear suits from Target. Yeah, Amanda Latona Kuclo can vouch for me on that one. Not just the suits, the hairstyles, the makeup, the jewelry, the posing, and obviously the physiques. Just like anything though, right? It’s like when you are excited about a new outfit and your mom gets just as excited because “I wore that exact outfit back in my heyday.” (insert eye roll here) The bikini division is about bringing a complete total package and a look that’s unique for YOU! It’s tough trying to find your mojo though. It will take time and it will take some errors. That’s okay. Look at me; eight years competing and I finally found the perfect package and placed the worst! Who woulda thunk?! Ha-ha. You must learn to evolve with it and that’s what I’ve done and how I’ve been able to keep my longevity in this sport.
I want to take you through my complete show day look for this year’s Olympia. I’ve always wanted to do this and thought why not start with my favorite complete look to date? Plus, if it can be any help to you girls just starting out or who need some help nailing down that perfect show day glam, I’ll be a happy girl.
Here are all of my (not so) secrets!
Let’s just start with that because duh, it’s our favorite part. Ooo, sparkles. Women are like squirrels and nuts. We see sparkles and lose it. It seems like there are a million suit companies these days. What I do know is I’ve been using SWEET REVENGE BIKINI for over ten years. That’s two more years than I’ve been competing, though. Yeah, that’s right; I used to do bikini competitions before there was even the fitness kind, ha-ha, and she was making my suits for them. Ultimate Bling Bikinis before they were even a thing. I basically trust her with my life. Major sarcasm there but really, what I mean is when you are spending anywhere from $200-$600 on a suit, you’d better trust the designer. That’s exactly why I use Karen. She handmakes, cuts, sews, stones, and designs all of her suits with love. She only uses the best Swarovski crystals to make that suit bedazzled. I have always worn blue; it has become my signature color. Don’t fix what’s not broken, right? We have always stuck to blue but always change it up each year. For the most part, that has been going to a darker shade of blue. This year I wanted much darker and was even playing with the idea of navy or purple. GASP. I just knew I wanted it to be noticeably different but still in the blue-ish family. One of my posing clients came in one day and was wearing a suit with color changing stones. I had never seen them before and immediately sent Karen on the hunt! My girl, never letting me down, found these new color changing Swarovski stones and we knew exactly what we wanted to create! Fast forward to me coming to pick the suit up and it was even more incredible than I had imagined. It was like a rainbow!! From one viewpoint it was blue, another angle it was purple, then yellow, pink, sometimes red. Altogether it looked like my classic “Tawna Blue” but with some sauce. There is a color fabric from Sweet Revenge named that now, by the way! Hands down, my favorite suit we’ve ever made. I always go with a single row connector, which looks best on my body because my hips are so big and upper body is smaller so the bigger the connector, the more it covers on me. I like to keep it simple with a small circle connector on the back and in the front on the top. With the rainbow effect, these color changing stones have, I had every color suit in one! It was perfect and I was happy. That’s what I tell girls when choosing a suit: do what makes you feel good because you are the only one rocking it, hunny.
I used to wear just whatever jewelry for the stage. I thought, why spend a lot on jewelry? That was until I started wearing ELIZABETH DWELLE. She handmakes with extra love, using sterling silver and real Swarovski Crystals! Speaking of “oo, sparkle.” Now, this jewelry really shines on stage, girls! My favorite part is that you can make it customized! How neat is that? You know me; I’m not a cookie cutter kind of girl. Anything to be different, I like! I sat down with Elizabeth and we designed the perfect stage set for me. We also made a matching ring. I like to have dangle earrings, with one bigger bracelet and one smaller bracelet, and then a ring. Nothing too crazy or too big because I have a small frame and don’t want them to be too distracting.
I know competing can be costly and you are wondering why spend a lot on something when no one will know how much it is? However, what I found was the cheap jewelry was good for about one show then I’d have to throw it away and buy more! You get what you pay for, right? The tan gets everywhere including the fake silver and stones, making it impossible to clean or look new. The silver WILL turn and not to mention makes my ears itchy! By the time I was done buying new jewelry for each show, I could have had this entire set just once! In the end, I was paying more and not to mention it was more of a hassle trying to find the same jewelry or new jewelry that I even liked. I’m completely obsessed with my TAWNA SET, the way it shines on stage, the uniqueness, and the quality!
The tan can be such a sketchy ordeal. I’ve had some horrible experiences and seen some horrible experiences. What I know is that the tan will be different for everyone. I have found that LIQUID SUN RAYZ is THE best for my skin. My skin takes the color well. I do follow all of the skin prep instructions to a T, which is always helpful. The color is by far the best for stage. Other tans I have had before were either too red or orange…and sometimes pulled a green tone. Which, yes, it’s very possible to turn green. LSR has the darkest and gives that rich golden-brown tone. What you think of when you think TAN. Off stage, the tan can feel like overkill and too dark. However, put that same body on a stage and it can be not dark enough, which can be to your detriment! This has happened to me before and my physique just didn’t have the same pop or definition. It’s incredible how much the tan really matters. I have been using LSR since I turned pro at Team Universe in 2011! Once I used them, I never looked back. Not only is the product amazing but the team, the family, is even more amazing. Everyone knows everyone and treats everybody the same. The LSR family is so accommodating and always wants the competitor to look and feel their best.
THE HAIR AND MAKEUP:
When I first started to compete, I would do my own hair and makeup for the shows. I had always done beauty pageants growing up and always practiced doing my own makeup so I felt comfortable enough to do it. I also was trying to save a few extra dollars where I could. That was until I had my makeup done for the first time at a show and from then on, I promised myself I would never do my own again. First and foremost, it was so amazing to just wake up and have someone else basically pamper me. There is so much going on that day, the last thing I want to worry about is nailing my makeup. Which brings me to my next point. Just because I was good at doing my own makeup doesn’t mean that I knew professional stage makeup. What’s the difference? EVERYTHING! The color matching to the tan, a Smokey eye without being too much, a little color on the lip but not too nude. The list goes on and again too much for this prep brain to think about on game day. After looking at pictures on stage from when I did it myself or had it professionally done, it was clear as day! I’ve worked with many makeup artists for my shows. What I have found is that you need to be sure and do your research. Don’t always just go with who “everyone” is using. See who they are using. Example being: I am light skinned, blue-eyed, with blonde hair. If I went to someone who has great makeup work but works a lot with girls who are dark complected, dark features, brown eyes, etc. they may not look the best on me. Not to say they don’t do amazing work but, it just wouldn’t look the same on me. Also, testing out with someone is super important, if that’s possible. You can play with colors and ideas so you both are on the same page for the special day. My favorite artists I have worked with are AMY PETERS and NANCY J. AND KRYSTAL MELTON from Tan Masters. In the past, Nancy has always done my makeup. However, this Olympia she was booked up in a flash. That’s what happens when you’re the best in the biz. She suggested I use Krystal. I had never used her before and at first, I was hesitant, but I knew if Nancy was recommending her, she’d be great. Well, turns out this was my favorite makeup look to date…sorry Nancy, you’re still my girl. Ha-ha! Krystal matched my suit perfectly with a little copper/gold tones and purple to bring out the colors in my eyes. I wanted glam but not a heavy smoke, I wanted pop on the lip but not bubblegum pink, I wanted glitter but not to look like a stripper. She nailed it because when I looked in the mirror I said, “Okurrrr, I’m feelin’ myself, girl!”
I saved the hair for last. I feel like for as long as I can remember, you girls have been always asking me about my hair! I do and have always done it myself. Styling that is. Blondes tend to have a hard time on the stage. Not because we’re bimbos, but because that bright white hair with those harsh lights tends to just wash you out. You end up looking like a cotton ball up there! I’ve always been platinum blonde. In the most recent years, I went on trend and did a more rooty blonde. I’ve been seeing balayage specialist VIVIANA DEAN at Peachy Keen Studio to create this look. This year, I wanted to tone down the blonde on the top and bring a brighter blonde out on the ends. Of course, the queen worked her magic and it turned out perfect. I do wear clip-in extensions for more length and volume for stage and she helped me color match to get that flawless look. Back to the “Tawna Hair,” as I’ve heard it called. Ha-ha. I am not claiming these curls but have been styling my hair like this for years now. This time I added a little spice to it. I feel like I always look like the cute bubbly one on stage and I wanted a little edge. I did a hard part so that I could tuck one side behind the ear and give the bangs some heavy volume. Keeping my classic light loose waves, it was just so perfect for all of my transitions and staying out of my face and getting that little bit of sex appeal to it that I wanted.
There was no placing for me at this year’s Olympia. It was the worst I’ve ever placed at a show. However, this is by far the happiest I have ever walked away from a show. You could say it’s age, maturing, and being in this sport for such a long time, you get used to how things go. I think it was finally being truly, deeply in my heart, proud of what I brought to the stage altogether. The best physique I’ve ever had and absolutely loving my entire glam equals all the feels. Meh, who am I kidding? Being there at the Olympia regardless is an honor and I no doubt was on a high from that! I’m sharing this for you girls in hopes that it helps you remember the FUN in competing. Remember why you started. It is so easy to get caught up in the competition part and lose sight of well, everything. I did once. I promised myself I’d come back and come back stronger. Maybe not in placings but as a person and athlete…and that’s exactly what I did.
A special thank you to my entire team for making show day possible. For putting the time and effort into making me look and feel my best. I truly felt like a million bucks and I appreciate you all more than you know!