“Life is short – and love is special”
Her sudden engagement made headlines across the country. Now, for the first time, a candid Frances Abbott opens up about her wedding plans, her family and going her own way
First she surprised us with her bodybuilding debut. Then came a shock wedding announcement. In her first in-depth interview, Frances Abbott talks candidly to Stellar about her upcoming nuptials to Sam Loch and the moment he met her father.
Tony Abbott first met Sam Loch, his sonin-law-to-be, when the former prime minister was passing through Melbourne. Loch, a two-time Olympic rower, and Frances Abbott were already head over heels in love, but not yet engaged. The way Loch handled his introduction to the politician impressed both father and daughter.
“I think meeting Tones can be quite intimidating for anyone, but that’s what I love about Sam,” Frances Abbott tells Stellar. “He’s so grounded, and so settled in his own skin, it felt totally natural. There was no change in [Sam’s] voice, no sitting upright. Dad liked him. Dad likes everyone, but I think he was particularly – well, Dad is a rower. He was like, straight away, ‘Let’s talk about rowing.’” Tony and Margie Abbott, like the rest of the country, were surprised when their middle daughter told them of her engagement, which happened in Loch’s kitchen two weeks after the pair met. “Mum was like, ‘Frances, you are quite impulsive,’” she says. “My family just want what’s best for me, as any family would with their daughter. They are cautious because of the time, but they know me.” Of the three statuesque, sporty Abbott daughters, who stood beside their father during two hard-fought election campaigns, Frances has attracted the most attention. In 2014, she was dragged into the political muck due to questions about her scholarship to a prestigious design school. Lately she has made headlines with her candid Instagram account, where she has expressed her support of same-sex marriage (her father campaigned for the opposing view), shared her foray into fitness modelling and announced her engagement to Loch. Yet, for all the interest in her social media accounts, we know little about the woman behind them. Now she is ready to talk.
In her first in-depth interview, Abbott tells Stellar about the joy of falling in love fast, bouncing back from controversy, and how she came to terms with her father’s political views.
AT A RIVERSIDE cafe in Melbourne, Abbott’s adopted home, the 26-year-old jumps to her feet and performs her competition routine. A 360-degree turn that is like a danced muscle flex, peppered with hand flourishes and hip tilts. Throughout it she chuckles, partly in self-mockery, partly in embarrassment, and partly in delight. “It’s so much fun,” she says. “I love it.”
There’s no giggling during the real thing, though. Fitness modelling is a serious business. Abbott spends months training and eating right for her 30 seconds in the spotlight on competition day, when judges assess her physique. A performer should be muscular but still feminine – a sixpack is OK, but the hard bulges of traditional bodybuilding are not.
Faces don’t matter – it’s not a beauty contest. But attitude does. “My first comp I think I went a bit [over the top] with the sultry look,” she says. “[The judges] are not looking for sexy, they are looking for fit.”
There are other things to consider, too. Designing the right bikini (they are tailor-made), finding flattering shoes (clear plastic elongates the leg), a good fake tan (this can decide a close contest) and, most importantly, the poses. For the latter, Abbott has a coach. “Posing is my favourite part,” she says. “Posing never stops. You can just keep practising and practising…”