The Tan Rule

Being backstage, all alone for your first competition is one of the scariest things you’ll do, unless there is a fabulous competitor that knows and practices the ‘Tan Rule’. Tenecia shares her experience with the ‘Tan Rule’ and how it impacted her.

Share your life!

Everyone knows The Golden Rule…you know…the whole “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Today, I would like to talk to you about The Tan Rule. This rule is the first cousin of The Golden Rule.


One freaked out competitor!

On July 24, 2010, I arrived at the Mesa Arts Center to compete in my first figure competition. I was excited, scared, overwhelmed, giddy, nervous, and most importantly, ALONE! I did not have any friends or members of my gym that were competing in the show. No trainer to accompany me backstage.

It was just me – I was flying solo!

As I huddled backstage after checking in and receiving my competitor number, I wondered what I was supposed to do next. There were over 200 competitors at this particular show and everyone seemed to know someone else, what they needed to be doing, and how to ignore the obvious newbie hyperventilating in the corner.

Just as I was about to start doing the ugly cry, a tall (and I mean seriously tall!) Black female said hello to me and stated that she hoped she hadn’t stolen some of my “spot” as she pointed to some bags that were next to mine. She told me that her name was Jenny and asked me my name and who I had backstage with me. After telling her my name and explaining about it being my first show, I told her that I was alone because my coach lived out-of-state. Jenny must have smelt the fear that was seeping out of my pores because the next thing she said to me was, “Stay with me. My trainer will be backstage and we’ll help you out with whatever you need”


Jenny, my savior, in the red

She and I talked and talked which made the time fly by quickly. As the time for our class to get on stage drew nearer, Jenny and her trainer told me when to have my carbs and pump up, they both helped me with my glaze and Bikini Bite, and her trainer made suggestions about how to tweak my posing to hit my best angles. When I left pre-judging, I happily told my husband about Jenny, the girl who saved me from a breakdown backstage!


Jenny rockin’ the stage at Team Universe

That was over a year ago and Jenny and I have remained in contact with one another. We have celebrated each other’s successes and offered support when placings have been less than stellar. Jenny competed at Team Universe a few weeks ago and I proudly lent her my suit for her national debut. She initially wanted to rent the suit from me but I told her NO! and that letting her borrow my suit was the least I could do to repay for her taking me under her wing at my first show.

Jenny and Tenecia

Jenny and I at my show on 7/16/11

I share that story with you to encourage those of you who compete, especially those of you who would consider yourself “veterans” or “seasoned competitors” to practice The Tan Rule.

The Tan Rule is simple.

It states “Backstage, treat a new competitor as you would have wanted to be treated at your first show”. You may be asking yourself, what exactly does that consist of? People, it’s simple – help someone or more than someone out. Share your glaze if the girl next to you in the pump up room doesn’t have any. Offer to take a picture of a competitor with her camera so she has memories of the day (especially if you see her doing the whole extending her arm self-portrait thing). Offer one of your tampons if you hear someone freaking out that she’s just started her period (this actually happened at one of my shows!).

Now at every one of my shows, I try to be someone else’s Jenny. Yes, I focus on me and what I need to do to be ready and prepared for my moment to shine but I also try to be friendly and approachable. I do this so competitors, especially first timers, can see a friendly face and feel a little less overwhelmed.

The Tan Rule…I hope you take it to heart and practice it at your shows.

Until next time…..


Make sure to connect with Tenecia on her blog.

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  1. It’s a brotherhood. And sometimes, that brotherhood can even feel like a sisterhood. But it’s a brotherhood….. 🙂

    Good stuff!

  2. OMG I am honored to know that I affected another soul in such a way! I love you girl and I am so happy we are friends! You are a blessing to me as well! Thank you so much for the kind words! 🙂 xoxo Jenny

  3. awesome!!!!!!!!

  4. I love this blog post T!!! Can I just tell you that my entire first show experience was awesome because of you? You were the perfect person to have backstage… always calmed (I can still hear your voice talking to me on what I should expect next), and always looking out for your fellow competitors. People should hire you to be the “Backstage Companion Whisper” lol! You’re an Angel Tenecia!

  5. Hey T! Love the blog post! I remember being there at that show last year too! It was actually my first show that I had no one back there with me! I remember meeting you. It was a great time and a great experience! And look at you now!! 😀 /respect!


  6. OMG..i literally almost cried reading this. Yes i haven’t competed yet, but this totally makes me fall deeper in love with the small society of competing sisters. I probably wont get the kind of help from someone like Jenny, but that doesn’t mean that when my 2nd show comes along that i wont try to help someone who i can tell might need it.
    I want to be a Jenny..and Tenecia is wonderful for having this’s the best!!

  7. I LOVED this guest post! It’s so true about the energy back stage, especially if you are a newbie…

    I had a great experience on my first show too. Strangers were willing to share bikini bite, chocolate and words of encouragement. It made me feel great…. 🙂

  8. Awe T, I totally loved this! What a great story, thank you for sharing! My first show I met a great friend who I still stay in touch with and she came to my second show to help me out backstage. But at the second show, there was a lot more people sticking their nose up than people being friendly, which I was disappointed in. I agree though, I”ll definitely take this advice!! =)

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