Simpson. (Splash News)
Wilkinson. (STARPICZ / Splash News).
No one knows the public scrutiny of trying to lose the extra baby weight that Jessica Simpson is currently facing more than Kendra Wilkinson. After the Playmate-turned-reality star welcomed son Hank IV in December 2009, she struggled to shed the 60 pounds she put on during pregnancy and regain the sexy shape (and those abs!) that made her famous as one of Hugh Hefner's three girlfriends on E!'s "Girls Next Door."
"I looked in the mirror and I said, 'I'm fat,'" Wilkinson told ABC News last year when discussing her battle with not only trying to drop the baby weight but postpartum depression as well. So she is especially sensitive to the microscope Simpson is under as she tries to lose the more than 70 pounds she reportedly gained while pregnant with daughter Maxwell Drew.
"That just breaks my heart," Wilkinson, 27, tells omg! from Yahoo!. "I feel for her. I was in the same boat. People just need to mind their own business. That's a woman who just gave birth. Her first priority right now is her child. Her first priority is not losing the weight. You should be proud of her for that. A lot of people just dump their kids off at nannies and lose the weight overnight. We should all be proud of her for being real and taking control and making priorities."
Hank, Little Hanks, and Kendra. (Eric Charbonneau/WireImage)
In fact, it's her struggle with postpartum issues that has been one of the reasons Wilkinson is debating if she even wants a second child, even though her husband, former NFL player Hank Baskett, is really pushing for another. The star of the WeTV show "Kendra on Top" was photographed leaving a store in early June with a pregnancy test visible through her plastic bag, but when it came out negative, she admits she felt relief. "I did think I was pregnant because I was feeling a little crazy," she says. "When I found out I wasn't, it gave me another boost.
In another way, I was a little bit bummed. I kind of wanted a positive." Until that time comes, she's busy with a new business endeavor. "I do have my Love Candy [lingerie and toy] line coming out. [After that launches], that's when we'll start planning baby number two. We're going to start trying in a couple months."
For now, Wilkinson is focusing on her adorable son, who just recently started preschool — which has been just as hard on his mom as the 2-and-a-half-year-old. Although she says she was okay initially with him being gone all day, after the first week, "I was telling Hank, 'We've got to go get him,'" she jokes. "He says, 'But it's too early.' And I'm like, 'It's ok.' I've been caught up in trying to take Little Hank out of school early, and the school is like, 'Leave him in school!' It's so hard. … He hates it. It's been really hard for him."
Wilkinson says it's normal situations like that, which set her life apart from those of other celebrities — or at least, the ones they project. That's why it's so important to her to show the good, bad, and ugly on "Kendra on Top," which she executive produces. "I still remain true to who I am … because [reality stars] know we're not at the top of the celebrity list," she tells omg!. "But what we can do is give a taste to our fans of what it's like being in Hollywood for a real couple. Some people go out and flaunt the whole 'I'm a celebrity, I'm rich, look at me!' But we represent a real couple that comes from real places, but we just so happen to be in the Hollywood light."
One real issue the couple faces is her husband's struggle to find work post-NFL (Baskett has been an unrestricted free agent since not having his contract picked up in March 2011), which turned Wilkinson into the breadwinner of the family, a role both husband and wife have wrestled with, she reveals.
"That issue was there, but we have overcome that. The question was really for me. I would ask myself, 'Am I really ready to call myself the breadwinner? Am I wanting that role?' When reality hits you, it hits you pretty hard. Hank not having a job didn't just change him, it changed me, too. And we had to come back together and come back to reality and really figure things out. And that's when communication really had to get stronger. I love being the breadwinner, but would I want to see Hank being the breadwinner? Yes, because as a guy I think it's better for their ego."
Girls Next Door: Kendra, Bridget, Hef, and Holly. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images )
Besides her husband and her son, there's another very important man in Wilkinson's life: her former boyfriend, Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner. Although the two split in 2008 after four years together, she notes that the 86-year-old "is one of my closest friends." And that's why it's been rough watching him reconcile with his former fiancée Crystal Harris, who infamously called off their wedding just five days before the big day last June. As for getting back together with Harris and moving her back into the Playboy Mansion, "that's his choice," says Wilkinson sadly.
"That talk [with him] is definitely off limits … you know, I don't get it. But I just think it's someone's choice, and you just kind of have to accept it if you're friends with them."
Two people from that phase in her life that she is no longer friends with are Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt, with whom she shared girlfriend duties on "Girls Next Door" for five seasons. Despite their many years together, Wilkinson says she no longer speaks to either woman. "We're kind of like in our own little worlds," she reveals. "We've moved on. We weren't really that close before … we've always had our own friends and our own lives."
So would she return to that life and pose for Playboy again? "No, definitely not," Wilkinson says without hesitation. "It's just time to move on. It's time to look forward to new things."