‘I still care’: Raw body admission from former model
TZIPORAH Malkah is in fits of laughter as she lies on a jagged rock and tries to wrestle one boob back into her swimsuit after being dumped by a giant wave.
Meanwhile, my body is thrown across the rocks like a flailing puppet on Sesame Street and I instantly predict some kind of scarring.
This is not the experience that was promised. Just moments earlier, Malkah - the model formerly known as Kate Fischer - was describing her daily beach routine in luxurious detail. It sounded holistic, calm. Spiritual, even.
"I'm like a Spanish Arabian princess ritually bathing in a Moorish bath house," she said sensually of the ritual as we approached the rock pools on Boomer Beach, her new home outside of Adelaide.
The reality was more of a bloodbath.
With boobs back in place, we leave the makeshift Moorish bath house and sit in the shallows as the ocean rolls in.
Malkah - whose ups and downs with weight, money and life have been scrutinised in the public eye - rubs the course sand into her thighs as we talk about beauty, ageing and insecurities.
"Oh yeah - I care," she says when I ask her whether she still worries about vanity. "If I had good health I'd be very good looking for 44. At my age, you don't really get good looks unless you've got good health. They go hand-in-hand."
Later, she says she's baffled by the judgement and criticism she cops for not looking the same way she did when she was the supermodel fiancee of billionaire James Packer two decades ago.
"I don't look like I did when I was 23. I'm not rich like I was when I was 23. Who is?" she says.
"I don't feel good. I am still a bit vain. I'd like to look as good as I can for 44. I want to be a good 44 - not an average one."
Malkah still beams the way she did in her heyday as a model and actress in the '90s. With only a dash of mascara on, her skin is clear and fresh (she attributes her complexion to ocean swims, sunblock, lots of water and treatments by skin clinic Liberty Belle).
And she can still switch it on when standing in front of a camera.
As she poses for news.com.au in her pink swimsuit on the beach, her eyes sparkle and her smile lights up. She twists her body and positions her hands - offering up a series of tried and tested modelling moves.
She turns her back to the camera and rapidly shakes her face and lips before whipping back to the lens looking candidly happy and natural.
It's called the "winnie", she says of the trick used to relax the facial muscles.
After vanishing from the public scene for a decade, Malkah resurfaced 14 months ago when a tabloid magazine published candid photos of her retrieving her mail while wearing only a bedsheet.
That's when producers on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! began calling for her to appear on this year's series of the extreme reality show.
She weighed about 118 kilograms when she entered the jungle and lost 14 kilograms during the show's run but gained it back in the real world after she dropped a gate on her foot, leaving her injured for several months.
Since her re-emergence in the spotlight, her weight and looks have been the subject of judgment and chatter in tabloids and on social media.
During the Network Ten reality series, scenes of Malkah going braless and footage of her campsite bed breaking were ridiculed. She believes producers intentionally tried to make her look "foolish or sloppy".
Earlier in the day, while talking about her days as a 23-year-old model and actress, Malkah said she "didn't think" she was beautiful at the time. Her struggles with confidence started when she was in primary school and she developed an eating disorder.
"I hated myself," she recalls.
After her high-profile split from billionaire James Packer in 1997, Malkah moved to Hollywood and became extremely dedicated to her Jewish faith.
She began dressing modestly and covering up in long shirts and skirts. It began to have an impact on her lifestyle.
"I just wasn't in that [modelling] lifestyle anymore," she says. "Instead of running in a shirt or shorts like I used to, I ran with a long skirt on. And it was just a hassle and it wasn't comfortable and I lost interest.
"I couldn't go to the gym because there would be men there. I got really into [religion]. And I think I just got so frightened by the outside world that I just crawled into a cave. Gone were the slinky 30-inch jeans and into long daggy skirts that didn't show any shape.
"I wouldn't eat or drink anything that didn't have a kosher stamp on it. I used to always
be getting takeaway salads - but then I couldn't. I was into a very dedicated side of [my faith]."
These days, Malkah weighs 105kg and attributes the loss to her morning beach walks and rock pool swims with boyfriend Guy Vasey. She says she's also cutting sugars and alcohol.
"I'm taking a bit of shape now - now that the foot has stopped [hurting]," she says. "I'm getting my strength, my legs are getting a bit shapely. So the walking is good."
She's happy with the progress but says she wants to lose more.
"My goal is really just to be a size 14 normally," she says. "I think for a woman my age, that's fair enough. At my height, I think I could probably be a size 14 at 80 kilos. And then if I were to do something like be on TV ... I'd probably be around a 70."
As we dry off after being tossed around by the waves, Malkah says she's on track to where she wants to be. But it's a slow process.
"It's getting there. It's getting there," she says calmly. "It's just lifestyle. It's also demeanour, too."