COVER STORY: What Tammy Hembrow isn't telling you.

The first thing about Tammy Hembrow that surprises me is that she’s nervous. She doesn't usually do interviews. In preparing to finally sit down with her for No Filter, I went looking for other interviews she'd done. Barely any. So even though she spends a good chunk of her life in front of a camera creating her own content, she's always the one in control of it. She prefers it that way.

Ninety minutes later, when the interview is over and we stand together for a photo, Tammy immediately positions herself to my left after asking if that’s OK. "This is my good side," she explains in a way that's neither self-conscious nor diva.

The woman knows her angles. As I fling my arm around her waist, silently wondering if I have a good side, I notice she's still shaking.

The second surprising thing about Tammy Hembrow is that she arrives for our interview alone. I'm always interested to see who famous people bring with them when they come into the Mamamia office. Entourages range in size. If they’re promoting a TV show, an album or a book, it will usually be a single publicist. If they're a big star, they will usually bring a make-up artist and maybe a hair stylist with them for touch-ups. And if they're a famous businesswoman like Trinny Woodall, Pip Edwards or Camilla Franks, they might also bring their own publicist plus their own social media person to capture behind-the-scenes footage. Running a personal brand in the age of social media means you have to feed the beast with content about yourself. Incessantly. Tammy Hembrow is all of those things and so I expected her to come with at least a medium-sized entourage. A manager. A publicist. A makeup artist. Maybe an assistant.


On the morning of our interview, I was running late and thankfully, so was she. Her 6am flight from the Gold Coast had been delayed, but she still managed to arrive before me and I almost stumbled over her sitting quietly in the lobby on my way up to the office. The publicist from the book publisher arrived at the same time I did, introductions were made and Tammy tried to discreetly ask if she'd have time to change before the interview because she'd spilled coffee all down the singlet top she was wearing under her pale blue shirt. I expected her to have celebrity swagger, but she was clearly embarrassed and a bit flustered in a way I recognise. I spill things a lot too.

Oh, one more thing surprised me. Tammy Hembrow is tiny in that unexpected way famous people often are. She is far smaller than she appears in her photos and there was no sign visible sign of her famous curves. Later, she would tell me she doesn't post photos of her bottom so much anymore and that she didn't know why people make a big deal of it. A few days after our interview, she posted photos of herself in a tiny g-string bikini to promote one of her workout programs called the 6 Week Curve Builder.

At first, I honestly thought this was a story about a bottom. Tammy Hembrow has a spectacular bottom according to current beauty standards and for the past decade as a content creator, influencer and entrepreneur, she has posted thousands of photos and videos featuring it prominently in exercise gear, in evening gowns, in lingerie and in swimsuits.


Like this:



She posts other content too; with her kids, working out and her daily life which is sometimes the same as a regular person (brushing her teeth, making breakfast, changing a nappy, getting ready for work) and other times really not. Like the reel of her running into the ocean at sunrise with her fiance or getting fitted for her Vera Wang couture wedding dress. Keep scrolling and you'll also find videos featuring her getting engaged and giving birth, each for the third time.



Mostly though, it's a slightly whiplash inducing but very recognisable mix of motherhood and sexy fitness that's hugely popular with men who come for the booty shots and young women who come for the reassurance that having a baby doesn't have to mean losing your hotness and that you can indeed erase all signs of pregnancy from your body if you just subscribe to this app and buy that activewear.


There is a lot of controversy around Tammy's bottom (Has she had surgery? Does she digitally alter her photos?) as well as a lot of admiration for it amongst her 21 million followers so it's not weird that it came up in our conversation although I must say it's the first time I've asked "Is your bottom real?" in eight years of doing this podcast.

The thing is, we all currently live in an era where Kim Kardashian and her sisters, along with Beyonce and JLo have shifted beauty standards monumentally from the flat-bum ideal of the 90s to a place where women are risking dangerous, expensive surgery to make their bums bigger with implants or fat transfers.


For the past few years, the desired answer to the question "Does my bum look big in this?" among young women, is an appreciative "Hell yeah".

But this isn’t just a story about a bottom. 

Hell no. 

What this is, is a story about one of the most successful content creators Australia has ever produced and how Tammy Hembrow utilised both her body and her brain to catapult herself onto the Young Rich List when she was just 26 and who is now estimated to be worth $50m.

The reason she finally agreed to be interviewed is to promote her new book, Show Up, a motivational self-help guide with a light dusting of anecdotes, the most detailed of which is the one about what really happened on that night at that party.

You see, in 2018, Tammy was at Kylie Jenner's 21st birthday party in LA when she collapsed and had to be carried out unconscious, face-down on a stretcher into a waiting ambulance, in full view of paparazzi and everyone with a camera phone.

Watch: Tammy Hembrow explains why she collapsed at Kylie Jenner's Birthday party. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Some facts. Tammy Hembrow is about to turn 30. She is one of seven siblings who range in age from mid teens to early 30s. She has 17.5 million followers on Instagram, 2 million on TikTok and 1.3 million on Youtube. Tammy has three children, Wolf (8), Saskia (6) and Posey (2) with two former fiances.

She is currently engaged for the third (and, she says, final) time to a former reality star, named Matt Zukowski who she met after he slid into her DMs. She insists he wasn't trying to hit on her. He definitely was but, hey. Tammy doesn’t read all her DMs because you can imagine how many she gets, including from famous men who want to meet her. She thinks that's yuck and always ignores them. Not this time though.

She’d seen Matt when he appeared in the reality show, Love Island and she liked his vibe so when she noticed his name pop up, she replied. They got engaged in December 2023 after just a few months of dating which sounds like a red flag but Tammy says this relationship is different because Matt is an excellent communicator.

He currently splits his time between Melbourne and Tammy's waterfront home on Queensland's Gold Coast and the only time in our interview when she falters is when the topic of Matt’s infertility comes up.

She mentioned it when I asked about whether her family felt complete but when I ask how he found out he was infertile, she pauses, looks away. Wavers. Makes silent calculations about who that story belongs to. No doubt imagines the Daily Mail headlines. Her eventual answer gives me a clear insight into how navigating the line between public and private is an ongoing concern for her and how creating the kind of content she does can sometimes make that line fuzzy.


The only other time a shadow crosses her face is when we talk about the time she spent in LA trying to crack the US market. Despite meeting many Kardashians, taking meetings with big names in Hollywood and modelling for Khloe's jeans brand, Good American, it wasn't a good time for Tammy, even before the night she collapsed. She was made promises by people who didn't have her best interests at heart; she says now. Success in America is something every celebrity is meant to want and Tammy struggled with that for a while because she knew she should want it but… she didn’t. Ironically, her lowest moment kind of saved her because it forced her to face the truth: she wanted to stay close to her family and friends in Australia more than she wanted to be successful in America. So she came home, to stay.

As you will learn if you read her book, Tammy has built two successful businesses from scratch. There's Saski, the activewear brand named after her eldest daughter, and TammyFit, a fitness and wellness app that offers paid subscriptions. She tells me she will soon launch a third business; she can't say what it is but can confirm it’s in 'the health and wellness space'. My bet is vitamins.


The thing is, whatever Tammy sells, her followers want to buy. And she leverages that interest with a direct-to-consumer model, meaning she can sell pretty much anything she wants. Because she doesn't depend on a third party retailer like Coles or Woolworths or David Jones or Rebel Sport to sell her products, her profit margins are far bigger. It also means she doesn't need to pay for expensive ad campaigns or famous models. She is the model because essentially, she is also the product so the photos and videos she makes act as branded content. Brand Tammy is a huge business that employs a lot of people and generates millions of dollars in revenue.




This is how Tammy became famous and then rich: she began posting fitness content to Instagram back in 2014 when she was 19. Her mental health hadn't been great, and she'd found exercise and meditation to be helpful. She'd dropped out of university so she could start her own business and she had part-time jobs in telemarketing and retail while she worked out what to do next. That's when she fell accidentally pregnant.

She and her boyfriend Reece had only been dating for a month when it happened and everyone around them basically freaked out. "I had people saying, 'Oh, your life will be over. Your body will never be the same,'" she says.

"And it just sort of made me want to prove everyone wrong. I'm still going to be successful, I'm still going to be fit in the gym, and I'm still going to have an amazing life. Just watch me."

Like many successful female entrepreneurs before her, Tammy quickly discovered that the key to her business growth was the combination of creating compelling content about her life and using it to market the things she wanted to sell to her followers. This used to be called product placement. Now it's called influencer marketing and Tammy is brilliant at it.


'Para-social relationship' describes the feeling of being friends with someone you've never met simply by following them on social media and getting a glimpse into their life. There is a type of entrepreneur who leverages that para-social relationship with their followers and turns it into a lucrative and mutually beneficial value exchange: I will create compelling content for you about my life, usually featuring expertise of some kind and you can buy products from me to help you achieve a bit of that life. Or at least feel like you are.

Trinny Woodall and Tammy Hembrow are among the most successful at doing this. They are different generations but they both make vast amounts of watchable content about their lives — what they wear, what they buy, where they go on holidays, what they eat and what beauty products they use — and woven seamlessly into that content are their businesses.

To be clear, making this content — whether you’re using it to sell something implicitly or explicitly — is work. Not everyone can do it well and most entrepreneurs don't want to do it at all.

Tammy has camera stands all over her house so she can film herself in the kitchen, the car, by the pool, her dressing room and bathroom, her office and her custom gym attached to it. It's all potential content to share with her millions of followers.


She tells me she often leaves the cameras rolling and when she's putting a video together — usually at night in bed after the kids are asleep — she’ll scroll through hours of footage, deciding what moments to use.

Yes, she edits all her content, and this is key because even though it's wildly time-consuming and she keeps meaning to find someone to help with the editing and posting, Tammy is reluctant to outsource her boundaries to anyone else.

Boundaries, you say? What boundaries? When you're watching Tammy or Trinny's videos, you could easily make the mistake of thinking they have no boundaries. Because hey, they're putting themselves out there wearing no makeup sometimes or picking up dog poo or talking about having a colonoscopy or covering a pimple. Before our interview I watched a 10-minute YouTube video of Tammy giving birth to her youngest child. The video was called "Posy's REAL & RAW birth. My VBA2C" (which means vaginal birth after two caesareans) and it has had 3.8 million views. It made me cry a little bit at the end.

So surely, there must be very little that’s off-limits? Incorrect. When I asked Tammy how much of her life she shares, her answer surprised me: she estimates around 10 per cent.

Trust is important to Tammy. She's been burned by people before and she now prefers to employ only friends and family. When I ask if that ever gets awkward, being the boss of some of her siblings and mates she insists it's never weird or hard, in fact, it's the opposite. The only time it was problematic was when she and her sister Amy Hembrow were first working on Saski together. "I was the boss of the business but she thought she was the boss of me," she says.


So they agreed Amy would step away from Saski, even though she now works at TammyFit. At the time of our interview, several members of her family were living with her including her mother. Her parents have been divorced since Tammy was a kid but they remain a very close family.


While she had her babies and diligently built her business over the past decade, Tammy inadvertently became a monetisable source of traffic for tabloid media like The Daily Mail who leaned into the narrative of her personal life. To be fair, it was pretty compelling, what with the engagements, the pregnancies, the breakups and the post-baby body reveals.

In the first three months of 2024, they ran 16 stories about Tammy, including coverage of the $10,000 wellness retreat she was selling, the bridesmaids she's chosen for her up-coming wedding and the 'loose tummy skin' she reportedly 'showed off' after pregnancy.

Image: The Daily Mail.


Notably, Tammy never speaks to The Daily Mail. Or any media. Because she doesn't need to. That's why, despite multiple requests over the past few years, Tammy said no to an interview with me. It’s not that she has lots of secrets. She insists she's an open book; after all she's been making content about her life since she was 19.

That way, she can dictate the terms. She doesn't sit down for media interviews because social media means she doesn't have to. Tammy Hembrow doesn't need anyone else to be a conduit between her and an audience; she can control her message because she controls her medium. She's the one in front of the camera but also behind it. She's the star, director and publisher of everything she posts which means she gets to decide what to share and where to share it.

She acknowledges the amount she shares can be misleading. "Some people assume I share everything but of course I don’t," she says. When I push for specifics, she estimates she only shares about 10 per cent of her life and sometimes has entire weekends where she won’t turn on the cameras at home.

I ask about whether she’s paid much attention to the great Sharenting Reckoning and the controversy around the ethics and safety content creators in the US who feature their children on social media, Tammy points out that her kids only feature on her social media accounts not their own and that she never posts photos of them without their clothes or in compromising situations.


Mostly, they just do dances and silly things, she says, explaining the different ways she uses the different social platforms. TikTok is for silliness, Instagram is ‘the most aesthetic and polished’ and YouTube is for longer form content that goes behind the scenes of her life.

The same week I interview Tammy, I listen to an interview with Katie Price. Remember her? She was the 'glamour model' as they used to call the women who posed in bikinis on page three of the British tabloid newspapers. At 45 years-old, Katie is only 15 years older than Tammy and she became famous for similar reasons. Just like Tammy, Katie's ‘sexy’ image and personal life attracted a lot of attention which she then tried to monetise. And like Tammy, Katie has had a series of high-profile relationships and shares a number of children with her former partners which include Australian singer, Peter Andre.


Unlike Tammy, however, Katie Price's became famous in the pre-social media era which made it so much harder for her to take control of it and turn the public interest in her body into a business.

Instead, she monetised that interest via paid interviews in gossip magazines, appearance fees for reality TV shows like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, book deals to publish memoirs and endorsement deals to sell all sorts of products owned by other people. And sure, she earned a great income for many years but not nearly as much as the companies paying her did. She was never in control — they were. This meant they were also free to portray her in the way that worked best for them, not for her. The 'brand' of Katie Price put way more money in the bank accounts of others instead of her.


And today... well, she's a bit of a mess, frankly. In the interview she did with Elizabeth Day on her How To Fail podcast, Katie spoke frankly about her recent time in rehab for addiction, her massive tax bill, her countless cosmetic surgeries to modify her face and body and how throughout her life she has been abused physically, mentally, emotionally and financially by a conga line of terrible men and dodgy exes. She is now bankrupt and trying desperately to get her life back under control even while she plans more operations to make her lips and boobs bigger. Her primary source of income these days is her Only Fans account where she posts adult content.

I thought a lot about Katie Price after meeting Tammy. Because there is nothing messy or out of control about Tammy. The opposite. While Katie Price is larger than life, Tammy Hembrow in person looks very different to her photos and the way she portrays herself online. She's much smaller. Much less curvy. Much quieter.

As we say goodbye and she dashes off with her publicist to sign a big pile of books in a warehouse before flying home to her family in a few hours, I get the distinct sense that Tammy is yearning to be back in her own environment. Where she can talk directly to her fans and followers. Where she can decide exactly what she wants to show, tell and sell them. Where she's in complete control.

Show Up by Tammy Hembrow is out April 16, published by Penguin Random House Australia.

Feature Image: Instagram.