“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

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy MICHELLE TRAN Styling GEMMA KEIL In­ter­view JOR­DAN BAKER

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…”

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