“I would definitely say that living in the mansion created a body dysmorphia for me because I was always kind of wondering what’s wrong with me,” Madison, 43, told People in an interview published on Thursday, November 16. “[Hugh] had a way of making me feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, and I would look around to everybody else and constantly be wondering, what’s so different about them and why are they so much better?”
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health disorder that leads individuals to “worry about the way your body looks” to the point in which “it interferes with your ability to function normally,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Holly moved into the Playboy Mansion when she was 21, and she was Hugh’s girlfriend from 2001 until 2008. She explained that being the Playboy founder’s girlfriend meant she had to practice restrictive beauty standards, which had a negative impact on her mental health.
“It was constantly like, what can I do? What can I do? What can I change? How can I look better?” Holly, who has been open about undergoing a nose job and a breast augmentation in the past, recalled.
She continued, “When I look at what the typical Playboy bunny looks like with the blonde hair and big boobs, I always wanted to look like that. That was just something I would see and it would resonate with me, and it wasn’t to impress any certain person. I just wanted to look like that, and that’s what attracted me to the Playboy brand in the first place.”
The Vegas Diaries author said she initially chose to have plastic surgery for herself, though noted that Hugh, who died in 2017 at the age of 91, and the environment within the Playboy Mansion had a negative impact on her confidence.
“I could be looking like a plastic surgery nightmare right now!” Holly admitted. “Because it was just constantly me wondering, what’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?”
When Holly moved out of the mansion in 2008, she said she felt “traumatized” by her experiences and was determined to create a new life without Hugh.
“I was just in this fight or flight state for about four months, just trying to get my feet off the ground because I knew I had to. It was like, build a career for yourself right now before people forget you were on a show,” she continued. “So I did that, and then I was just working my ass off for three years straight.”
She also allowed herself time to process her experience with Hugh. “I remember I was looking through this Girl’s Next Door coffee table book that we put out when the show was still on because I was looking for a certain outfit I wore for a throwback photo on Instagram, and I was looking at pictures of myself and I was like, ‘Holy s–t, I’m fake smiling in all these pictures.’
Holly added that looking at the old photos reminded her of how “miserable” she was while living in the Playboy Mansion.
Now that over a decade has passed since she and Hugh ended their relationship, Holly said that she is in a much better headspace. “I feel like I’m on the other side of it,” she said while reflecting on her trauma. “It definitely took me a couple years to kind of get deprogrammed and get out of the Playboy fog and realize what that relationship was really all about and quit trying to glorify it or justify it to other people.”
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