In the early 70s, if a woman wanted recognition as a bodybuilder she had to subject herself to the Miss Americana or the Miss Eastern America competition. Both of these shows were filled with strippers and contestants who not only did not flex on stage, but did not train in the gym either. It was not exactly a bodybuilding contest, but there were several contestants who gained enough recognition to be photographed with the male bodybuilders in Muscle and Fitness. It was just a matter of time before the Weider's had a set of guidelines for contestants to follow before they could be entered in the contest.
Edited from Female Bodybuilders and The Very First Ms. Olympia