celebrity

Samantha Armytage is stalked on a daily basis. Her crime? She's single.

Samantha Armytage gets up early. Three in the morning, most days.

And this Monday, as soon as she did, she took to Instagram and fired off a missive to her 218,000 Instagram followers.

It read:

Because also today, Woman’s Day have declared her engaged and meeting her reported fiancee’s teenage daughters for an intimate family lunch.

Just like last week, when the Daily Mail had her ring shopping with her “secret boyfriend”, Richard Lavender.

Sam Armytage makes headlines for wearing clothes. For going out for lunch. For her choice of underwear.

She makes headlines for some ill-conceived segments on the morning show – Sunrise – that she co-hosts every weekday but certainly does not create and script.

Most of all, Sam makes a whole lot of headlines, simply by having a body and walking around in it.

And she’s not thrilled about it.

It’s been going on for years. Back in 2016, Sam came in to Mamamia to talk to Mia Freedman about her life, career and the media attention.

“Paparazzi [are] in the bushes outside my house,” she said, “Taking pictures of me taking the bins out. It’s creepy. I’d love them to find someone else to focus on.”

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Well, sorry, Sam, but three years on, they still haven’t.

And this morning Sam decided to do what celebrities never used to be able to do – she shot back from the hip. Tapping into her phone, Armytage has the power to call out the scrutiny for the nonsense that it is.

She’s done it before, taking pictures of a drone hovering over her back garden. She’s also called out the fake ads on social media that claim a celebrity endorsement from her that doesn’t exist.

Don’t buy into this bullshit, she says. Don’t read it. Don’t believe it.

It’s unlikely anyone will listen. Gossip magazine circulation isn’t what it was, but online, gossip still dominates. Of course, Mamamia is not above printing and discussing celebrity news, but as a business we have taken a stand on paparazzi images for over a decade now – we just don’t publish them. And the reason why gets to the very heart of why Sam Armytage has the paparazzi along for the ride on every shopping trip and family lunch.

It’s sexist nonsense.


A magazine cover Sam did endorse: The Australian Women’s Weekly, in May. 

Case in point: Why the interest in Sam Armytage? She’s a journalist with more than two decades’ experience, she’s reassuringly “normal” in as far as anybody in the public eye can be normal, she works pretty damn hard, she doesn’t get around in a meat-dress or fall out of nightclubs trashed at 3am.

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But Sam is something that most mainstream Australian TV celebrities are not. She’s single.

And she’s something else that most mainstream Australian TV celebrities aren’t, either. She’s not skinny.

I don’t use that word with prejudice. Sam is attractive and fit and brainy and stylish, but her body shape is not the same as all the other white women who sit behind desks and on couches on our prime-time TV shows. It’s slightly more in line with the average Australian woman’s, (including my own), ie: Not skinny.

And those two factors make her an endless source of fascination.

Remember that scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary when Bridget’s at a dinner party and sarcastically reveals that she and her other single friends have scales under their clothes? Well, it’s that.

Even in 2019, we struggle to know what to do with women on TV who don’t fit into a neat box: sexpot starlet, bride, mummy.

And if we don’t know what to do with you, well, we’ll just train some cameras on you and follow you about until something happens.

That must be how it feels to be Sam Armytage on a day like today. Like her everyday life is some strange Truman Show-esque experiment.

Let’s stalk the 40-something single woman until she meets someone or eats something. What will that look like?

Listen to Sam on No Filter:

As for Sam’s assertion that the people in their magazine offices sit around making up words to go with the pictures? Well, I used to work in that world and I couldn’t possibly comment. But it’s certainly true that it’s a visual medium, and the photos very often come before the stories.

But what is also true is that the relationship between the paparazzi and their target isn’t always that of the hunter and the prey. Some celebrities work with “the paps”, particularly in the profile-building phase of their career, when they might tip them off to their whereabouts to catch them candidly walking hand-in-hand with a new love interest, or looking particularly fabulous in a bikini.  Of course, that seems almost unspeakably quaint in the Instagram/influencer age, when we’re all our own publicists.

Sam Armytage is not that person, never has been. She’s a straight-talking, successful, no-bullshit female journalist who has committed the cardinal sin of not being married off by 30. Oh, and not being a size six.

And I like to imagine that the words she deleted from that Instagram post this morning were these: “Bite me”.

Do you think single women get a harder time in the celebrity press? Let us know in the comments.

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