She was once at risk of becoming just another B-list ex-WAG and reality TV wannabe, but Lara Worthington nee Bingle has undergone a complete image overhaul and, like a phoenix, risen from the ashes.
This is not merely a simple glow up. Nor is it like one of those cheap transformations on Better Homes & Gardens where a living room is updated using half a tin of old paint, re-purposed crap from a kerbside council collection and unlimited PVA glue.
And it’s certainly more complex than the in-depth feature I read this week documenting Bec Hewitt’s decades-long hair transformation. OK, that’s a lie. Bec Hewitt’s hair transformation is a wild, emotional ride. It’s filled with twists and turns and cliffhangers. Nicole Kidman should option that story and turn it into a stylishly gritty series for HBO.
Like Bec Hewitt’s hair journey, Bingle’s evolution is filled with nuance. It’s a strategic overhaul that has been years in the making.
Remember when Lara was a punchline? The minute she strolled down that beach in Tourism Australia’s infamous 2006 ad campaign and chirped the catchphrase, “So where the bloody hell are you?”, she was plunged into a pit of global controversy and parody.
Unknowingly, she had become the face of an international joke – a meme before memes even existed. If meme artists were around back then, the meme machines would’ve gone into overdrive.
She became a WAG to Aussie cricketer Michael Clarke before their engagement busted up and reports surfaced that her engagement ring was flushed down the toilet. It’s never a good day when the word “toilet” has to get added to your Wikipedia page under the subheading “Personal Life”.
Then she took a ride on the reality TV circuit. She appeared on Channel 9’s celebrity ice skating show and we still can’t believe that program made it to air. Next up was Dancing With The Stars. And her own 2012 reality show for Network 10, Being Lara Bingle, should probably be honoured at next year’s Logie Awards to mark its 10-year anniversary.
The final step on her descent to becoming just one more faded personality who occasionally gets written about in “where are they now” articles on slow news days was a string of driving offences — including being fined for a hit-and-run in 2012 and getting handed a six-month suspended jail sentence plus a two-year ban from driving in 2014 when she was caught twice behind the wheel without a license.
It’s the holy trinity of D-list stardom: trashy reality show, scandal, hit-and-run. Married At First Sight contestants would kill to tick off all three of those boxes.
But, like Posh Spice, she managed to right the ship just in time and narrowly avoided becoming our nation’s version of Katie Price or that cat lady Jocelyn Wildenstein.
She retreated from the public eye and moved to New York City with actor Sam Worthington in 2014. Marriage and babies came. She upped the style and minimised media appearances. The gigs became more exclusive.
We still saw occasional glimpses of the Lara we knew and loved – like when she got in a brawl with a pap – but, for the most part, she was cultivating an enigmatic presence.
Perhaps it was the day she scored a signature haircut that finally catapulted her up to a new level. The Bingle Bob generated headlines and buzz around the country. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the assassination of JFK, everyone remembers where they were when they heard about The Bingle Bob.
And with the family’s recent relocation back to Australia for Sam’s starring role in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Appropriate, the evolution is almost complete.
She has developed a strict new low-key look that’s almost as much of a signature as her bob. Taking her style cues from John Wick, Westfield security guards and Edna Mode from The Incredibles, she’s keeping it simple with all-black ensembles – ‘90s-style outfits made up of oversized blazers and baggy trousers.
This week, perhaps as a nod to the Bingle bungles of yore, she made headlines when she stepped out in an all-black outfit made up of a sheer top and “G-string pants”.
It just adds to the mystery and fascination.
What’s next for Lara Worthington? Trying to predict that would be like trying to guess the ending of Bec Hewitt’s rollercoaster hair transformation.