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EXCLUSIVE: High profile Australian women on what it's like being stalked by paparazzi.

We’ve all flipped through the glossy pages of a tabloid magazine and pondered what it’s like to be famous. The popularity, the parties, the expensive clothes.

But as we saw this week when Sam Armytage’s pantyline became front page fodder on The Daily Mail, life for those on the other end of the paparazzi’s lens has a much darker side.

As the bewilderment boiled on, we asked other famous Australian women what it’s like to step outside knowing you’re constantly being watched.

Among them, 2Day FM radio host Sam Frost. While the popular host and former Bachelorette accepts the lurking lenses are an inevitable part of taking a high-profile job, she says no one warned her about the anxiety it causes.

“Anytime I’m out in public, I am paranoid, anxious and cautious of everything I do just in case there is a pap lurking in the bushes, following me in their car or camping outside my house,” she told Mamamia. “I’m not free to be myself anymore, which is heartbreaking for my family and friends to witness.”

Fellow announcer Chrissie Swan agrees. She knows better than most the destructive potency of a paparazzi shot, having been photographed with a cigarette while pregnant in 2013. And they’re always looking for that next explosive snap.

“For me, spotting the paps when I’m out and about is a real downer. Obviously I immediately have to get my kids out of there. And if I’m alone, I wait for the pics to be published and what nasty angle the news site will make up to accompany what are often really innocuous shots,” she said. “And the angle is always just made up. They always use the worst pics too!”

The accompanying angle is a common concern for these women, who have as little control over the story as they do over the photographs that spark it.

One television and radio host told us that photographers often suggest an angle to media outlets in order to make their shots more valuable – even if it means making it up.

“So they’ll choose one of a hundred photos they took, the one where you’re frowning and try to say you’re having a fight with your partner even though you might just have been frowning because you are running late for something, or you are sitting in a cafe telling a story,” she said. “Everything is out of context and then you have to deny you’re having relationship problems!”

Another high profile media personality added, “I was once followed by paps when I was out at the beach with my family. I was pregnant at the time. They tried to sell the shots claiming I had bruises on my arms (I didn’t, they must have been shadows) and that I was a victim of domestic violence! How outrageous is that?”

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These women were among several who asked to remain anonymous, noting that their decision to speak out against paparazzi in the past only seemed to make things worse.

As one television presenter explained, “Nobody wants to speak up and complain because there’s the fear that they’ll increase the coverage you get and send more paps to follow you more often. And also because it’s really boring to hear celebrities complain. So we don’t say anything publicly. We just have to accept being stalked and our privacy exploited.”

But Rebecca Judd is among those determined to speak out, regardless.

“Being followed by paparazzi feels like I’m being stalked,” the model and television presenter told Mamamia. “They wait outside my house and follow my car. When I see them in my rear view mirror as I pull out of my driveway I feel a sense of dread and panic. No matter how often I am followed, I still can’t get used to it and this feeling feels like a fight or flight reaction.

“Some of the more aggressive paps drive like maniacs so they don’t lose contact with me out on the road. They run red lights, cut across traffic and almost cause accidents. To almost kill someone out on the roads for the sake of a $200 pay-day is ridiculous.”

Rebecca Judd and Sam Armytage. Image: Instagram.

Judd has been chased along a highway, an experience that left her terrified enough to call 000; had photographers sneak onto her private property and into hotels; even follow her family to her son's soccer games. One unsettling encounter at a local park even meant her son now prefers to play "within the confinements of our own home".

"How is it that a 5 year old can be followed and have photographs taken of him which are sold to a publication for the commercial gain of the photographer and the publication and, as a mother, I can't stop this happening?" she lamented.

In other countries - including the US - there are laws protecting children from being photographed without their parent's consent, but not in Australia. Judd says she may one day lobby to change that legislation. In the meantime, she has been forced to develop other strategies, including sharing carefully selected images of her kids on social media to "reduce the price on their head".

"Why does the law protect the paparazzo and the publications and not the children?" she asked.

We're curious, too.

Tags: celebrity , news-3 , paparazzi , real-life
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