In a revealing new interview with PEOPLE, Wilkinson emphasizes it was never her responsibility to protect Hugh Hefner
Hours after the news broke, Wilkinson says she was getting high at a Sublime concert in California.
“I smoked a lot of weed,” recalls Wilkinson, 38, exclusively in a new interview with PEOPLE. Although it’s been 20 years since she first rose to fame at age 18 as one of Hefner’s girlfriends, the reality star says she is only beginning to unpack the trauma from her time living in his Playboy world.
“Look, at the end of the day, I owe Hef nothing,” she says. “I’m not going to sit here and protect him. Hugh Hefner decided to date millions of girls, right? That's not my responsibility. And whatever happened with him, with his relationships, that was his thing. It’s not my responsibility to protect a man for his life choices.”
Now two decades after she and Hefner first began dating, Wilkinson — who is currently in therapy — has more perspective. “I got into deep regret [afterwards]. I got to that point where I started hating myself [and asking], ‘Why did I have sex with Hugh Hefner?’” she says of Hefner, who was 60 years her senior. “I hated my boobs, my body, my face. I got to that point where I started hating myself.”
After Wilkinson left the mansion, she wed former NFL player Hank Baskett, 41, at her onetime residence in June 2009, walking down the aisle while pregnant with Hank Jr., now 14, who was born that December. (She and Baskett — who finalized their divorce in 2019 — later welcomed daughter Alijah Mary, 9, in 2014.)
In September, Wilkinson was hospitalized and diagnosed with anxiety and depression and placed on antipsychotic medication. “It’s not easy to look back at my 20s. I’ve had to face my demons,” says Wilkinson. Now, she acknowledges that Playboy “messed up her whole life.”
“Do you know how many people were putting pressure on me to stick up for Hef with all his allegations and all this stuff? That’s not my responsibility to stick up for someone like that,” she says. “That’s what started triggering me because people were like, ‘Well, why don’t you stick up for him?’ And I had a marriage to my ex-husband and now two kids to focus on now, not Hugh Hefner.”
Although Wilkinson is finally ready to talk about her experiences, she says that she’d also like to move on as she continues pursuing her real estate career. “Hef kept appearing in my life and there were times where I wanted to stop that. I'm, like, ‘Hef's not a part of my life anymore. Can we not include Hef in my life moving forward?’” she says.
“He was five years of my life. He’s not my life," she emphasizes. "So there were times where I kept trying to part ways with Playboy and it just kept following me through time. I had to really face the truth of it all.”
Reflecting on her growth, Wilkinson is proud of how far she’s come from those troubling times. “I have so much good in front of me. I have two of the most amazing kids who are good, solid human beings, and I feel like I just pressed a rebirth,” she says, taking a deep breath. “Whatever that hurricane I was part of is in the far distance now.”
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Read the original article on People.