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'Take me as I am': Sam Armytage

Sunrise host Samantha Armytage knows she has a strong and healthy body, so she's tired of the "curvy" tag. She told Michelle Endacott back in February we should all learn to love our body.

There's a bounty on Samantha Armytage’s head.
Paparazzi are all out to catch the Sunrise TV co-host unaware in her swimsuit at the beach and the tabloids will pay $30,000.
Such is the mystique around the Seven Network star that when she cut her hair the story was at the top of online news sites for a day. So, today, Sam is taking charge.
“If everyone wants me in a swimsuit, it might as well be on my terms,” she proclaims.
It’s a myth that the sun always shines in Sydney. It’s 10am on a miserable day when Samantha turns up at the house The Weekly has hired for our cover shoot. It’s on a hillside in exclusive Rose Bay, overlooking the harbour and safe from paparazzi – or passers-by armed with a smartphone and a keen eye for a quick buck.
“Two years ago, I’d go to the beach in my swimmers and nobody cared. They wouldn’t blink,” Sam says. “Now, I always think twice before going to Bondi. In fact, I can’t really swim there anymore.”
She’s arrived direct from three hours of live TV and seven hours after she rolled out of bed. Her face is caked with thick on-air make-up, but she’s chatty to the make-up artist as he transforms her from TV-ready to magazine-cover ready.
(Yes, there is a difference.)
“I have to be really careful with my lips,” she tells him. “If they are too red, we will get calls all morning from viewers saying it looks like I’ve been in a nightclub all night. And that’s distracting from the stories I am trying to tell, so I aim to be conservative.”
Indeed, viewers feel like they “own” Samantha – she is one of them. It’s her girl-next-door charm, which is also winning the ratings race against arch rival Today. It’s that easygoing nature that led to this cover shoot.
The Weekly called me on Saturday afternoon and asked me if I would do it. I’m not vain enough to think I am Gisele [model Gisele Bündchen], but I am also not lacking in confidence to think I’m not some type of scrubber who should not wear swimmers. Plus, I’ve never done a swimsuit shoot before. They are terrifying words together, but I just thought, why not?”
Within hours, the photographer and location was booked, and swimsuits (for the record, all size 10 or 12) were called in from designers. And also for the record, a shoot like this usually involves hours of discussions with celebrity agents and managers about how many centimetres of flesh can be shown and which parts of the body (yes, really), and what topics will be off limits in the interview, plus haggling about approval of the pictures.
None of that happened – and that’s how Sam found herself in Rose Bay on a slightly chilly Thursday, to emerge from her second round of hair and make-
up for the day, and wriggle into a blue $380 Lisa Marie Fernandez swimsuit.
Outside, big warm drops of rain are still pelting down and the crew is struggling with shelter tents and lights and leaves in the pool, but in a 10-minute break of sunshine, Sam pops into the water for our shoot.
“I love to do stuff like this, I wish it was warmer, but it is quite invigorating,” she says.
“Nat [Sunrise newsreader Natalie Barr] had said, ‘Good on you for doing it’ and she will be dying of laughter when I tell her what the weather is like.”
So how does she feel about her body?
“I do become a bit sick of the ‘curvy’ tag and being seen as a representative of normal women because none of us is terribly normal,” Sam says.
“It is something people talk about and what I look like resonates with other women. I don’t describe myself as curvy. I’d describe myself as quite strong and healthy, nothing terribly flash. Take me as I am.”
Samantha says she is horrified to hear stick-thin young women at her network moaning about their weight.
“I never sought to be a model and I am not a model. I Iook at the girls with the long limbs and the long hair, and the really athletic build, and that is not me,” she says.
“Even if I starved myself, I would not have that physique. I look at the women in my family and I see my genetics. As I get older, I tend to put on weight easier and I have to work harder.”
So why did Sam decide, at 38, to pose for her first-ever swimwear shoot?
“Part of me is now starting to think, okay, if everyone is going to talk about my weight incessantly, then let’s have the conversation,” she says.
“I’m a TV host and a journalist, so it actually bamboozles me that people would care about me. If some woman out there reads my story and says, ‘Gee, I can relate to this girl’, or ‘I’m a size 12 too and made to feel bad about myself, so everyone else can just bugger off.’
“I think life is too damn short – unless you’re a Hindu. You only get one life – have fun, embrace who you are, what you are and what you do, and have an interesting life. Don’t worry about your thighs or arms or bum – just like the good bits!”
Sam’s “overnight success” has actually been almost two decades in the making and she realises it could end at any moment.
“I can’t see the point in being high-maintenance,” she says.
“TV is a tough business for either sex and they will get rid of you at any point, either man or woman, if you are not performing.
“And it can be anything that trips you up. Years ago, they actually had a meeting in the boardroom about what to do with my hair, with news directors and executives, it was a really big thing. It is talked about all the time, but it’s a fact of life.
“TV is an aesthetic medium and what we look like is important, whether we like it or not.”
Sunrise executive producer, Michael Pell, says Sam was an “obvious choice” when the co-host’s role came up.
“She had a certain charm about her,” he says. “She is a great journalist and a terrific storyteller, plus a cheeky knockabout girl. Her chemistry with Kochie [co-host David Koch] was instant.
“I think she is like everyone else – she has good days and bad days. On air, she will say, ‘I feel grumpy today’, and the audience will say, ‘So do I’.
“As for her body, weight is completely irrelevant to how someone can do their job. Does her not being stick-thin make any difference? I don’t think so. But then again, I am a skinny guy and nobody wants to hear a skinny guy talk about someone’s weight.”
Michael says Samantha has no airs and graces on set, and has never asked to be shot from a certain angle, or ordered cameramen to refrain from going in too tight.
So is Sam, who will turn 39 this September, worried about ageing?
“Nobody is losing their job for being too old on TV these days,” she says.
“There are so many gorgeous-looking, clever, older women on television and though they are in their 50s, none of them look it. I am one of the youngest.”
Sam says that after her body, the next question is always about her love life. When Sam interviewed Nicole Kidman in December, Nicole said of her husband, Keith Urban, “I’m so lucky to have found him. I was 39 when I met him. Come on, when do you meet the love of your life at 39?” And Samantha quipped back, “You’re good inspiration for me, I’m 38.”
Nicole then made a sweeping hand gesture and said, “There’s the fairy dust”, to bring romance to her life. Sam declared, “I hope you’re right”, and promised Nicole to keep her updated.
Yet Sam says 2014 was the year of climbing the professional ladder.
“I’ve actually had a really nice period of my life. For the first time in my life, believe it or not, I’ve focussed on career. And my career really went up a notch. I got so busy, I really had no option.
“Before, I had been through a not terribly nice relationship and I think I needed a bit of healing time and a bit of time with me, which I have had, and now I have really got my mojo back.
“I think 2015 will be a good year for me personally, whereas 2014 was about the job and work, and focussing on that.
“At 35, I was far needier than I am now. In the past few years, I have bought my own house, I've bought property. I've found I don’t need a man to do any of those things.
“It would be nice to have the company and to meet someone lovely, but I'm not going to date the wrong person again, just out of neediness, or just because
I think I need to be married.
“I’d like to have children and I don’t think that is impossible. I’m not stressed about it, which tells me that I’m okay.
I think I’m pretty clever, so if I knew I was running out of time I might start to panic a bit, but I’m not panicking yet. So I just have to trust my own body, that it will happen if it is meant to. I am very happy with my life.”
Yet even Sam goes through down times and she has found a kind, listening ear can help.
“I have somebody I talk to every now and then if I feel the need, who is not even really a professional, she is just a wonderful woman, sort of like a life coach, but she is not. She is just a wise older woman who I can chat to.
“I think everyone needs someone, who is not involved in their private or professional life, who they can talk to.”
And most Sundays, Sam tries a digital detox – staying away from the internet and mobile phone.
“I have a propensity to be addictive – I can check Twitter or Instagram 50 times a day, which drives me crazy,” she says.
Yet, for today, the mobile phone is ditched in favour of the swimming pool. And for the record, Samantha was not paid for this shoot. Take that, paps!
This article originally appeared in an issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.

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