Weighing up Sam Armytage’s appeal

She's lost 10 kilograms, "feels great" and ought to be congratulated, but Samantha Armytage's estimated $500,000 deal to become a Weight Watchers ambassador could cost her a lot more than a couple of dress sizes.

Samantha Armytage has become the latest celebrity ambassador to join Weight Watchers.

Many of us have long admired Armytage's self-confidence in a business where physicality is scrutinised not just by the millions of viewers who tune into see her, but also by the wider media industry.

Commercial television has a notorious reputation for treating its stars harshly over their appearances, most notably the women they employ.

And while TV remains a visual medium, Armytage has famously embraced her curves and has not been afraid to call out those she accuses of "fat shaming", even bringing in the lawyers when The Daily Mail published shots of her "granny panties".

Armytage, who does not mince words, was never one of the waif-thin, cookie cutter television personalities. Indeed, she was never afraid of a hot chip, some good cheese or a glass of vino. That has been a large part of her appeal to viewers.

A spread from the AWW story.Credit:AWW

Back in 2015 Armytage famously did a swimsuit shoot for Australian Women's Weekly – though to be fair she was mostly swaddled in a robe.

At the time Armytage said: "I've never done a swimsuit shoot before. They are terrifying words together.

"I don't describe myself as curvy. I'd describe myself as quite strong and healthy, nothing terribly flash. Take me as I am … it actually bamboozles me that people would care about me. If some woman out there reads my story and says, '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.'"

But what has she actually signed up for with WW if we are to believe her claims that it is not about being 'skinny'?

In 2013 Mahalia Barnes, the aspiring singer and daughter of rock and roll legend Jimmy Barnes, found herself the unsuspecting prey in a paparazzi hunt on a remote beach in Thailand after she became a recruit for Weight Watchers.

Jimmy Barnes with his daughter Mahalia.

Barnes shed nine kilograms in 10 weeks. Naturally, the women's magazines were desperate to get a glimpse of the new, slimmed-down Barnes to splash across their pages.

However Barnes's lucrative fee was bound up in a watertight contract drawn up by lawyers to ensure the sponsor extracted each and every 'pound of flesh'.

Barnes was banned from wearing revealing clothes, especially a swimsuit, before her big 'reveal' in a chosen women's magazine as part of a broader advertising deal.

But a paparazzo followed Barnes to Thailand, captured shots of her in a swimsuit and the pics were quickly snapped up for a five-figure sum by a rival magazine. It was an epic spoiler.

Over the years we have witnessed Magda Szubanski, Sarah Ferguson, Kirstie Alley, Chrissie Swan, Barry Humphries, Shane Jacobson and Matt Preston all crash and burn after their much-scrutinised weight-loss adventures. Some of them piled on the kilos as soon as they were off contract.

Magda Szubanski’s weight battles have been well documented.Credit:Simon Schluter

When Jenny Craig recruited Szubanski to spruik its programs, the comedian reportedly lost 36 kilograms.

However, the relationship imploded after just 18 months, Szubanski was erased from the Friends of Jenny website and she has since gained the weight back.

Chrissie Swan declined to renew her contract with Jenny Craig after having her second child saying: ''I'm overweight and happy.''

Rebel Wilson, famed for her love of cupcakes, signed up with Jenny Craig as a celebrity ambassador in 2011 when she weighed 106kg. She pledged to shed 25kg, but only dropped 15kg before her contract came to an end.

In 2010 Masterchef's Matt Preston found himself in the middle of a legal battle between Jenny Craig and the Ten Network when the broadcaster killed the deal because it did not "fit well" with its Masterchef brand.

It remains to be seen if a slimmed down Armytage remains a good "fit" with those who have previously applauded her size 12 self-confidence.

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