Tongues are wagging

cmy 0, 60, 100, 0There's more to being a WAG than sporting a fake tan and plastic parts, Claire Low writes

Think of a WAG and chances are an orange-tanned woman with a skinny build, plastic parts and designer wardrobe will spring to mind. In a nutshell: Barbie.

WAG stands for Wives and Girlfriends, usually of footballers, though the term is extended to women shacked up with other kinds of sportsmen. A WAG seems to serve a function that is mainly decorative. She must look devastatingly gorgeous in something plunge-fronted on the arm of her meaty man at the Brownlow Medal.

One WAG we all know, perhaps the queen of the WAGs, is Victoria Beckham, the woman who married David "Golden Balls" Beckham. She went from a faux-breasted, tandoori-tanned bottle-blonde who talked about never having time to finish reading a book to a respected fashion designer of her own eponymous line of luxury goods. She can usually be found gadding about with her adorable brood of romantically-named offspring. Not too bad for someone who spent the 1990s gyrating with Scary, Baby, Sporty and Ginger.

Victoria is a good demonstration of why it is not useful to think about WAGs in stereotypical ways any more than it is to suppose billionaires act like The Simpsons' Mr Burns.

She shows that WAGs can be multi-faceted women who are, in many ways, quite ordinary – that is the point of new Foxtel show WAG Nation.

While publicity material about the 10-part show plays up the excitement of being a WAG, listing off "launch events, fundraising galas, movie premieres and front-row seats at Fashion Week" as central to their social calendar, it hastens to add, "Our five WAGS will prove that the stereotypical view of who and what a WAG is can often be way off the mark."


The cast comprises shoe queen Terry Biviano, NRL WAG of Anthony Minichiello; Lynette Bolton, AFL WAG of Jude Bolton; Jana Peterson, NRL WAG of John Williams; Jackie Spong, AFL WAG of Jarrad Waite; and Chantelle Raleigh, NBL WAG of Adam Gibson.

Sydney-born Lynette, who is married to Jude Bolton of the Sydney Swans, is a freelance wedding and event producer who is in the process of launching her own events company. She met her future husband in 2004 while partying in Kings Cross. They were married in 2010 and their daughter, Siarra, was born in January. The series was filmed more than a year ago and, as it screens, Lynette can relive her pre-mum days. She got involved in the series through a friend of hers who is one of the producers.

Savvily, she decided to do the show to boost the profile of her business.

Lynette laughs heartily at this reporter's description of a stereotypical WAG: fake boobs, fake nails, with nothing to do but go shopping and attend parties.

"Those things you just said are not what I'm about and not what the other girls are about," she says.

"There's degrees of it, I guess. But the point of WAG Nation was to show we do have jobs, we do our own thing, we don't just spend our time going shopping, going to events, getting plastic surgery.

"We do have our own lives and our existence isn't just being married to or being partners of sportspeople."

Of the benefits of life as a WAG, she says she enjoys going to the footy, getting invited to premieres and racing days and getting frocked up.

Making herself fabulous has died down a bit post-baby.

"My sister said to me that once you've had a baby, if you manage to shower, brush your hair and clean your teeth all in the same day, you're doing well," she says.

Other nice things about being married to a footy star included that Jude did not have to work nine-to-five and could help care for their little daughter. His daytime flexibility made it possible for his wife to carry on with her business ventures. Lynette ditched her financial planner job to start her own company and says being able to do that had a lot to do with Jude playing football allowing her time.

Lynette never set out to be a WAG. There are some women in this world who go in hot pursuit of sportsmen by hanging out at certain bars and clubs. She was never one of them.

"When I found out Jude played AFL, I was like, 'Let's stop talking at this point.' " she says.

The thing is, Lynette was a rugby league supporter to the core. Being married to Jude has, however, converted her. She no longer watches the NRL.

Men in sport sometimes get a bad rap for the way they treat women. Stories of sex scandals involving footballers tend to grab headlines. Claims have emerged about Andrew Ettingshausen having a 12-month affair with the wife of a former teammate, Paul Mellor. Wayne Carey has linked his downfall to his affair with Kelli Stevens, the wife of his Kangaroos vice-captain and close friend, Anthony Stevens. Group sex scandals have rocked the Cronulla Sharks, the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Brisbane Broncos.

So did Lynette ever have reservations about getting involved with a footballer?

"I didn't think AFL players had a bad reputation," she says.

"I don't remember stories about AFL players.

"But I seem to remember having that thought: how am I going to explain [getting involved with a footballer] to my parents?"

She points out the clubs' time and effort with boys and their lectures on "treating women right".

"There's a lot instilled in them in the club," Lynette says.

Ultimately, Jude is just Jude to her: her man, the one who is a devoted father who she described as "in love" with his baby daughter.

"I don't think of Jude as anything other than my husband and Siarra's dad," she says.

Would she be happy if Siarra grew up to be a WAG, too?

"I would be happy if she grew up to be a WAG, or the wife of a schoolteacher, or anybody, as long as she had a beautiful husband who loved her a lot and she was happy," she says.

"It doesn't matter what her husband does."

¦ WAG NATION screens Wednesdays on Arena at 9.30pm.