The reality star veteran shares her experiences in the Playboy mansion and hopes for a better future for her children
When Kendra Wilkinson left home at age 18 to move into the Playboy mansion, she was excited for a “wild” new life.
“I was young, fun and dumb. I made a crazy choice to live with an older man,” she says. Now two decades after she and Hefner first began dating, Wilkinson has more perspective.
“I got into deep regret [afterward]. I got to that point where I started hating myself. ‘Why did I have sex with Hugh Hefner?’ ” she asks, who was 60 years her senior. “I hated my boobs, my body, my face. I got to that point where I started hating myself.”
She’s learned her experiences in the mansion — and the toll it took on her self-esteem — were bound to follow her into future romantic relationships. Mostly single since her messy split from Hank Baskett, her priority remains her children Hank IV, 14, and Alijah Mary, 9.
“I look back at what happened to where I felt like I had to date an older man at 18. What drove me to that place, and why did I choose to do that?” she says. “These are things I’m trying to correct in my parenting to my daughter. What can I do to show her that she’s more than that?”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Wilkinson admits she was sexualized at a young age, even before the mansion. But when she arrived at the Playboy doorstep in 2004, she says things got worse. “Sex, sex, sex—that’s all I knew,” she admits. Looking back, she has some regrets, but she doesn't want those experiences to shape her daughter's future.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want my daughter sexualized at a young age like that. I had to dig deep. I had to really dig deep into my own life and be like, ‘Holy crap,’ at what age did I start to get sexualized and why was it completely okay for me to move in the mansion and not choose college instead?”
Now, Wilkinson doesn’t feel the need to defend Hefner any longer. “Hugh Hefner lived his life. That was his life. I’m not going to sit here and protect him while I'm focusing on raising two kids,” she says.
Although she claims she doesn’t know what really went down with Hefner and girlfriends Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt and widow Crystal Hefner, she "respects" the former Playmates who have come forward about their own experiences with the late publisher.
“I respect what they've been through — I respect their stories,” she adds. “I was just there to be young, crazy, stupid, and I did that. I lived in a really crazy place for five years and I’ve moved on. Can we not include Hef in my life moving forward?”
Since being hospitalized after suffering a panic attack in September and beginning antipsychotic medication, Wilkinson claims she had to face her traumatic past at Playboy. “I had to open up those dark questions like, ‘Why did I do this? 'What really happened to me?’ ‘Is this bad? Did something bad happen to me? Was it a bad thing to do to live at the Playboy mansion?’ ” she asks. “At the end of the day, I had to really face the truth of it all. I had to face myself.”
But Wilkinson knows that she can’t go back in time and rewrite history; she must move forward and protect her children. “What makes me happy?” she asks. “It’s my kids.”
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.