Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/Getty
I never thought I’d be blogging kudos to Playboy Playmate Kendra Wilkinson. The ditzy tomgirl who starred on E!’s Girls Next Door as one of Hugh Hefner’s trio of blonde girlfriends was usually good for a half-laugh as I waited for The Soup to come on. But now that she’s been splashed across every gossip mag with pics of her and her new baby, I’ve developed a newfound respect for Mrs. Hank Baskett. Why? Because she’s being real about her post-baby body in a way that is most definitely NOT the norm in Hollywood.
In this week’s In Touch, she’s interviewed for a story titled, “I love my baby...but I hate my body.” The 24-year-old makes no bones about the fact that while 2-month-old Hank Jr. has captured her heart, pregnancy and delivery snatched her toned physique away. In addition the chemical commotion that can often contribute to postpartum depression, her body image has taken a major blow. In the weeks following Hank Jr.’s birth, “I paid every bit of attention to the baby, and I never, ever looked in the mirror. After a couple of weeks, I finally did and was like, ‘Oh, my God! I don’t look like I want to look!” Among her concerns: Her already augmented breasts have ballooned to a 34E, her skinny jeans don’t even come close to fitting, she has stretch marks and a belly pouch, and she’s not working out regularly because of the cold weather in Indiana (her new home). She also recounts feeling awful when three Playmate-friends came to visit. “I was jealous of them because they were looking hot when they were getting ready to go out. They have sexy bodies, and I wasn’t feeling very pretty at the time, especially knowing my body wasn’t in shape yet.”
OK, let’s get real for a second. I know a lot of women are not going to feel sympathy for a Playmate who, on most days, has a more Barbie-like figure than Barbie herself. Before the pregnancy, her body was unreal – so much so that millions of men actually paid to look at it naked. Her physique was her livelihood; it’s how she related to the world and where she turned to feel good about herself. It earned her a ticket to living in the Playboy mansion, her own reality TV spinoff and helped amass a small fortune. I have a difficult time believing she had any real pre-baby body image issues. But pregnancy has, in a sense, brought her down to real-woman level. And I’d imagine it’s a very lonely place for someone like her. (It is for everyone else, after all.)
Maybe I don’t sympathize so much as empathize with her – as much as a woman who’s never given birth, but has struggled with distorted body image, can. I actually applaud her for airing her fears and insecurities – if she just let herself be airbrushed thin and posed in a thong two months post-delivery, she’d be further perpetuating the myth that new moms can and should look better than they did pre-pregnancy. She’s not the first reality star celeb to do so – Kourtney Kardashian recently busted OK! Magazine, whom she said completely fabricated a cover photo of her holding newborn Mason while sporting a flat belly? (In truth, the reality TV star never even spoke to the magazine, despite its claim of an "exclusive" interview. OK! also spewed tons of misinformation, claiming she lost 10 pounds in 10 days and that she only gained 26 pounds to begin with, when in reality, she gained 40 and hadn’t lost any of it at press time.) The more we hear from women in the spotlight about how hard post-baby weight loss and body image really can be, the further we can break down the myth that abs of steel and a high, tight butt CAN be yours just days after pushing out that baby. And even though it seems ridiculous to think about, not many new moms who are sleep-deprived and haven’t showered in days have to deal with three Playmates walking through their front door in a cloud of perfume and sex appeal, so let’s cut Kendra some slack.