In a recent interview, former model Tziporah Malkah – formerly known as Kate Fischer – appeared to offer us a rare glimpse of her innermost narrative.
There were the thoughts behind the quick wit we came to love during her appearance on I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here! earlier this year. The emotions hidden behind the dark brown eyes people fawned over during her appearance in the 1993 film Sirens.
The interview is all very lovely, until you realise, there was nothing really ‘innermost’ at all. Everything – everything – was about the exterior. All the questions were apparently related to her weight.
Did she consider herself vain? What was her goal weight, in kilograms? How much does she weigh now, in kilograms? Does she exercise? Does she, did she, consider herself beautiful?
The problem with the interview has nothing to do with News Corp – as the journalist writes, her “ups and downs with weight have been scrutinised in the public eye” while her “weight and looks have been the subject of judgment in tabloids and on social media”.
No, it’s more a reflection of us. The public. The appetite for Tziporah to speak non-stop about her weight. And the assumptions around how women of a certain size and shape should talk, feel like, and behave.
To make one thing perfectly clear, Tziporah can do with her body as she wishes. If she wants to lose weight, switch up her diet, make changes on an individual level, she can do whatever makes her happy. But without our input or judgment. With all of us remembering – it is none of our business.
Is Tziporah Malkah a kick-arse woman? Post continues below.
When asked about her body, Tziporah had ready a number of defences. She’s accustomed to what’s expected of a woman in the spotlight who is not stick-thin and nearing six foot. Her tone was apologetic and she said she’s “working on reaching her goal weight”.
Her defences are as follows.
She’s suffered with eating disorders from a young age: “I hated myself,” she said of being 23 and at the prime of her career as a supermodel.
She struggled mentally after her 1998 break up with Australian billionaire James Packer. She moved to Hollywood and (she didn’t talk about this, but she has previously) she spent 22 months living in a women’s homeless shelter.
She began turning inward and rediscovered judaism. This meant she stopped exercising. “I couldn’t go to the gym because there would be men there. Gone were the slinky 30-inch jeans and into long daggy skirts that didn’t show any shape.”
There. Right there. Is a swarm of issues that Malkah – who’s led an extraordinary life of several different acts – could have been asked about, which have absolutely nothing to do with her weight.
But instead, we hear that she’s cut alcohol and sugar from her diet and she’s started swimming and walking every morning. She’s pleased to see progress: “my legs are getting a bit shapely”. But – and this is important – she’s not done yet: “my goal is really just to be a size 14 normally”.
It’s a dance we’ve seen too many times before. Never with men. Only with women.
But no one puts a name to this tired, guilt-inducing, self-degrading line of social inquiry than author Lindy West.
“I reject the notion that thinness is the goal, that thin equals better,” West wrote in her book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman.
“That I am an unfinished thing and that my life can really start when I lose weight. That then I will be a real person and have finally succeeded as a woman.”
Enough. Enough of the perverted obsession with women’s weight. The number of kilograms Malkah sees when she stands on the scale is not in the public interest. Her ultimate weight goal, and her progress towards that goal, is not for us to know. Should not be for us to care to know.
She is a woman who has lived a fascinating life and we should be so lucky as to know the inner workings of her mind.
What she felt when she starred alongside Elle Macpherson and Portia de Rossi in her first movie.
How she pulled herself back up through the grief of losing the man she thought she would marry, after a break-up that was as public as it was brutal.
How she felt as she slept beside women with no homes when she first landed in the US. Women who were finding shelter from all walks of life.
What pushed her to rediscover judaism and re-visit her roots.
Her career helping the elderly, working as a nurse.
And more importantly – what does she want to do next?
Because, as she swims and diets and treats her body in a way that makes her happy, we can all be assured, the future Tziporah Malkah revolves around much more than the numbers on a scale or the size of a T-shirt… If only we started asking about it.
Is it ever OK to comment on someone’s weight?