These shows "had little to do with women's bodybuilding as we know it today, but they did serve as beginning or, perhaps more properly, as a doormat for the development of future bodybuilding shows." Physique contests for women date back to at least the 1960s with contests like Miss Physique, Miss Body Beautiful U. SPA disseminated information to women about contests and proper training and dieting. The event organizer, Mc Ghee, told the competitors that they would be judged "like the men," with emphasis on muscular development, symmetry, and physique presentation. Although sanctioned as a bodybuilding contest, women were required to appear on stage in high heels.On April 29, 1979, SPA held Florida's first official women's contest in which thirteen women competed.The contest was held in Brandon Florida and promoted by Megas Gym and Doris Barrilleaux. She also began publishing the SPA News, a newsletter dedicated exclusively to female bodybuilding. The first official female bodybuilding competition was held in Canton, Ohio, in November 1977 and was called the Ohio Regional Women's Physique Championship. Henry Mc Ghee, described as the "primary architect of competitive female bodybuilding", was an employee of the Downtown Canton YMCA, carried a strong belief that women should share the opportunity to display their physiques and the results of their weight training the way men had done for years.Female bodybuilding originally developed as an outgrowth of not only the late nineteenth-century European vaudeville and circus strongwomen acts, Bernarr Macfadden's turn of the century women's physique competitions, and the weightlifting of Abbye "Pudgy" Stockton, but also as an outgrowth of the men's bodybuilding. In 1978, Mc Ghee organized the first National Women's Physique Championship, along with the short-lived United States Women's Physique Association (USWPA), which he formed to help organize women interested in competing in bodybuilding. On August 18, 1979, promoter George Snyder organized a "female bodybuilding" contest known as The Best in the World contest, which was the first IFBB-sanctioned event for women that awarded prize money to the top finishers, with the winner receiving ,500. Doris Barrilleaux found the Superior Physique Association (SPA) in 1978, the first women's bodybuilding organization run for women and by women.
The contests were generally held by promoters acting independently; the sport still lacked a governing body. The 1980s is when female bodybuilding first took off.The contest was a major turning point for the sport of women's bodybuilding.Mc Lish turned out to be very promotable, and inspired many future competitors to start training and competing. Gina La Spina, the champion, is considered the first recognized winner of a woman's bodybuilding contest. It was judged strictly as a bodybuilding contest and was the first event of its kind for women.