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Holly Madison reflects on ‘toxic’ behaviour in the Playboy Mansion

‘It’s just crazy the way they would categorise people back then and make us feel like we really had an issue,’ she says

Amber Raiken
New York
Saturday 12 August 2023 01:51 BST
Related: Holly Madison’s traumatic first time with Hef

Holly Madison has reflected on the “toxic” body shaming that she experienced while living in the Playboy Mansion.

The 42 year old, who dated Playboy founder Hugh Hefner from 2001 to 2008, spoke candidly about her former playmates during an episode of theJust Trish podcast, released on 10 August. Speaking to host Trisha Paytas, Madison claimed that ex-playmate Kendra Wilkinson received the most praise for her appearance, and that “we were always made to feel like Kendra was the only one with a good body”.

“It’s so strange looking back, because there’s really not much of a variety in the way the three of us looked, but for whatever reason, we were always made to feel like Kendra was the only one with a good body,” she said. “It’s so weird.”

She then alleged that ex-playmate Bridget Marquardt, who was also Hefner’s girlfriend at the time, was made to look like the “fat one” on The Girls Next Door, with the program “really focusing on what she’s eating”. Madison then criticised the ways in which womens’ bodies were described while living in the mansion.

“It’s just crazy the way they would categorise people back then and make us feel like we really had an issue,” she said. “It was just nuts.”

When asked who made her feel like she had an issue with her body, Madison specified that Hefner played a part, claiming that he “liked his women very, very thin”. She proceeded to scrutinise the “whole culture up there at the mansion,” describing how playmates were expected to look a certain way.

“Everybody’s beauty standard was kind of, oh women are supposed to be really young and really thin and really in shape,” Madison said. “And if she’s not in shape, she’s not doing it right. That was the kind of feel you got from people in general, in that whole society.”

When Paytas asked if playmates “taked s***” about each others’ bodies while in the bedroom with Hefner, Madison said yes, while recalling the “gross” scrutiny of their appearances.

“You would kind of hear little things like people talking about each other. And it’s like, I would hear somebody talk about somebody else, and I know if they’re saying that about somebody else, they’re certainly saying it about me when I’m out of earshot,” she said. “It was just gross.”

This isn’t Madison’s first time speaking out about her former roommates at the Playboy Mansion. In the Secrets of Playboy docuseries, which came out last year, she described her time living in the mansion as “cult-like”, while sharing her perception of Hefner.

“The reason I think the mansion was very cult-like looking back on it is because we were all kind of gaslit and expected to think of Hef as, like, this really good guy,” she explained. “And you started to feel like: ‘Oh he’s not what they say in the media, he’s just a nice man.’”

According to Madison, another cult-like aspect of life at the mansion was the ease in which the women could become “isolated from the outside world there”.

In a TikTok video posted in 2021, Madison also revealed that she struggled with body dysmophria while living in the mansion. She specified that these feelings occurred when wearing her signature Playboy Bunny costume.

“I was looking for pictures of myself in a bunny costume. I came across one and it reminded me of a moment in my life when I was watching a playback of myself and I thought: ‘Oh my God, I need to lose weight,’” the former reality star said.

She continued: “I’m sharing this because I think it might help people realise that sometimes our body dysmorphia is off the charts. I really feel like worrying about what I look like has gotten in the way of me living my best life and living as happy as I could be. It’s not worth feeling bad about yourself.”

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