“I used to get re­ally an­noyed”

Re­becca Harding opens up about life with high-pro­file boyfriend Andy Lee – and her glam­orous new track­side role

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Stellar - - Contents -

Re­fus­ing to be de­fined by her ro­mance with Andy Lee, Re­becca Harding cel­e­brates her glam­orous new role in a rac­ing-themed shoot for Stel­lar.

Re­becca Harding can cook a mean green chilli con carne. She has a Mas­ters in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. And she loves to dance naked in the bath­room ev­ery morn­ing. Which is to say that Harding is more than just the model and waitress who walked away with Andy Lee’s heart. For the fiercely in­de­pen­dent 26-year-old, it has been a source of frus­tra­tion to find her­self de­fined by her high-pro­file re­la­tion­ship over the past two years, rather than by her own achieve­ments.

“I used to get re­ally an­noyed if my photo was taken at an event and they’d de­scribe me as, ‘Andy Lee’s girl­friend, Re­becca Harding,’” she tells Stel­lar. “After we got back to­gether, I saw it writ­ten: ‘Re­becca Harding’s boyfriend, Andy Lee,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah. That’s right!’”

If Harding is keen to be recog­nised of her own ac­cord, she is on the right track – lit­er­ally, hav­ing been named the Myer Fash­ions on the Field Am­bas­sador for the 2017 Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val.

The per­pet­ual girl­friend jokes that Lee now gets to be her “arm candy” for sev­eral race days. Oth­er­wise, Harding will be go­ing it alone, and lov­ing it: she has been a reg­u­lar race­goer for more than a decade. As a girl, Harding would spend school hol­i­days rid­ing horses with her best friend. After start­ing board­ing school in Mel­bourne as a teenager, she fell in love with the glitz of the races.

“I have been go­ing to the races for years,” Harding says. “Whether it’s [mem­bers’ carpark en­clo­sure] The Nurs­ery or [A-list cor­po­rate mar­quees] The Bird­cage, it’s al­ways an ex­cit­ing event. I love the fash­ion, too. I am so ex­cited to have been of­fered this role.”

Harding prides her­self on be­ing able to talk to any­one – and her new gig will give her more chances to do just that. But it has taken her time to feel com­fort­able in the spot­light. When she and Lee stepped out for the first time at the 2015 Aus­tralian Open, ev­ery­one wanted to know more about the woman who had re­placed Megan Gale at the side of Lee, one-time Cleo Bach­e­lor of the Year. Far from en­joy­ing the at­ten­tion, it knocked the bub­bly brunette’s con­fi­dence. She started to ques­tion peo­ple’s mo­tives, won­der­ing why they wanted to be­friend or even hire her. So­cial-me­dia crit­i­cism up­set her tight-knit fam­ily – younger

sis­ter Poppy pushed back against the trolls, de­fend­ing Harding as a “nor­mal gal” – and ul­ti­mately the celebrity cir­cus took a toll on the re­la­tion­ship, too.

After news broke of her and Lee’s split last Au­gust, in­ter­est in her pri­vate life con­tin­ued and Harding was hounded to take part in sala­cious tell-alls. She aimed to main­tain a dig­ni­fied si­lence. “I’ve al­ways been a very pri­vate per­son with my re­la­tion­ships; I don’t even share de­tails with my friends,” she says. “I re­ally strug­gled with [Lee’s fame]. I’ve only felt com­fort­able in it since Andy and I had a break last year. I was strug­gling with a lot of things. I don’t think I’d found my place in it all. I didn’t un­der­stand this new­found in­ter­est in my per­sonal life.”

While they were apart, she started a new job at a bou­tique pub­lic re­la­tions firm, took up yoga and saw a ther­a­pist. “It was a nice time to come into my­self,” says Harding, has­ten­ing to add, “I know that sounds cheesy! I re­con­nected with fam­ily and friends and sur­rounded my­self with peo­ple I trusted and loved. If I saw Andy on the front of a mag­a­zine, I ig­nored it and let it wash over me.” Still, she ad­mits, “We never stopped lov­ing each other. We just needed a bit of time to find our feet.”

Be­fore meet­ing Lee, Harding had sworn off dat­ing due to a se­ries of ro­man­tic mis­ad­ven­tures.then he walked into the cafe where she was work­ing. She didn’t want to serve him, fear­ing her poor serv­ing skills (she calls her­self a “ter­ri­ble waitress”) might scare him off.

Far from it. Lee was in­stantly smit­ten with his for­get­ful waitress, and asked her out. She told him to ask again in a month. Un­de­terred, he called soon after and con­vinced her to break the em­bargo.they went to their lo­cal pub for pizza and wine.

Dur­ing the evening, Harding stopped see­ing Lee sim­ply as the “star” – she calls it the best date she’s ever been on.and now, “we are a team. He bounces ideas off me. He shares his thoughts and I share mine; he makes me laugh. I love be­ing there for him, and he loves be­ing there for me.”

Harding long ago stopped pay­ing mind to on­line com­menters, and says she is now com­fort­able enough in her own skin to let peo­ple get to know who she re­ally is. “I am a sis­ter, I am a friend, I am a daugh­ter – just like plenty of other fe­males out there,” Harding says. “I’m a huge dork! I am some­one who dances nude in the bath­room ev­ery morn­ing to what­ever is play­ing. My sis­ter was right: I am just a nor­mal gal.”

“Andy and I never stopped lov­ing each other. We just needed time to find our feet”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.