Natalie Joyce didn’t get mad, she got even
THERE are a few creative ways to Win The Break-Up - but is there any greater triumph than Natalie Joyce emerging from the scandalously public humiliation of her husband and then-deputy prime minister making off with his pregnant media advisor with a killer set of revenge abs?
Barnaby Joyce made the headlines for all the wrong reasons in February 2018 after he embarked on an extramarital affair with his former political staffer Vikki Campion, which resulted in a pregnancy while he was privately attempting to repair his marriage to Ms Joyce.
For Natalie and the couple's four teenage daughters, the insults just kept coming.
Ms Joyce says she found out it was the worst-kept secret in Canberra. She said Barnaby had always wanted a son; that he and Vikki gave him a name she and Barnaby would have given a boy if they had one; that he didn't look back when he sprinted for his plane to Canberra after their last overseas trip together.
And as we now well know, it was shortly after this that Ms Joyce's private heartbreak became front page news.
But then, Natalie Joyce strutted onto a stage and gained her own front page of The Daily Telegraph resplendent in a bedazzled, metallic emerald bikini, blonde locks and a chiselled rig painted in a shade of fake tan best described as bodybuilder bronze after joining the gym, shedding 15 kilos and remaking herself as a "Model Momma".
"I had two choices: either unravel, or shake myself off and aim to get the best out of myself," the 49-year-old mother-of-four said.
"In June last year I looked in the mirror and thought 'I'm not going to let someone else's appalling behaviour derail me'."
And so, from the ashes of her devastated 24-year marriage, rises the phoenix - and she looks absolutely incredible.
Natalie Joyce spent the best part of two decades devoting her days to being a wife, a mother, and supporting her husband's highly demanding and public political career as the member for New England, the leader of the Nationals and the nation's deputy leader - only to be rewarded at the tail end with his open infidelity.
It was high time she did something for herself - and she did it with style, earning two fourth place medals in the First Timers and Miss Fitness Model Momma categories at the I Compete Naturally North Coast Classic bodybuilding competition at New Lambton on Sunday.
ICN NSW president Rab Mehajer said: "She has come a long way. She graced the stage remarkably well for a 49-year-old woman taking on women in their 20s."
Everyone copes with breakups differently.
Some dye their hair - and believe me, if a woman changes her hair after a breakup, you know that relationship is dead in the water. It's over. You're finished. Walk away.
Some travel overseas, some try a new wardrobe, and some, like Ms Joyce, carve out the revenge body of their dreams.
As many a celebrity knows, the revenge body has many, many virtues.
For a start, exercise gives you endorphins. And endorphins make you happy (to quote Legally Blonde's Elle Woods).
Plus, a touch of boxing does absolute wonders when someone has done you dirty. It really helps you get that righteous anger out. A medicine ball slam will also do the trick. Basically, if you're hitting it with a vengeance, it's therapy.
More than that, though, the astonishing athlete's build - and the power pose in the spotlight - will really remind an ex, and in this case ex-deputy prime minister, just what they walked away from.
"I'll go for a swim," Barnaby Joyrce told Sky News' Chris Kenny morosely when asked about his ex-wife's dazzling new physique on Thursday.
"I'll go as soon as I leave here, if I can."
The former deputy prime minister said he was going to concentrate on other people - "the people of Australia, and the people of (his) electorate".
It would appear "other people" does not include Ms Joyce, who still lives in the New England electorate with the couple's children.
"I'm not even going to start going to that space," Barnaby told Mr Kenny.
"I don't think there are any votes in talking about yourself," says the man who accepted $150,000 for a tell-all interview on the Seven Network about his affair and infant son.
After all the personal torment laid bare for Australia to see, it is only fitting that Ms Joyce should get to make her own headlines and on her own terms.
Ms Joyce said her daughters "thought I had gone mad when I told them I would be strutting my stuff wearing nothing more than a skimpy bikini, flexing my muscles for all to see".
But Natalie Joyce didn't get mad. She got even.