Unapologetically is a Yahoo Life series in which people get the chance to share how they live their best life — out loud and in color, without fear or regret — looking back at the past with a smile and embracing the future with excited anticipation.
Donna D'Errico, 54, may be a former Playboy Playmate and a former Baywatch star, but she says she's no stranger to feeling self-conscious. It’s a battle, she says, that she's fought her "whole life."
"I still feel a little self-conscious here and there — sometimes a lot," she tells Yahoo Life. "But I've learned to let that stuff go and stop worrying so much about what other people say and what other people think and just live. I wear what I want and I say what I want and I do what I want, and I have stopped living the way that other people think that I should live and I live the way I want to live. I think that's what you're seeing now…is that level of confidence. And I think that everybody knows that confidence is sexy."
D'Errico has been outspoken about the bullying she receives on her Instagram — especially when she posts sexier photos. The trolls, she says, are mostly "other women." It's a trend, she says, that has followed her since the "bullying" of her childhood, when she was "torn to shreds by the girls at school." The good thing about bullying moving to online, she explains, is that now she has a method for responding to haters: delete and block.
After she posted a July 4 video of herself in a red, white and blue bikini, the actress said she received a flood of hateful comments. But instead of taking a step back from posting her sexier pics, she leaned into it.
"I'm not going to not post that stuff anymore, because then they're going to feel like they won, and they don't win. I win," she says. "I'm going to turn right back around and post more stuff in a bikini. And if I get more hate on that one, I'm going to post another. I'll post something in lingerie. I'll get even riskier if I feel like it. I look hot, and it's my account. If I feel like posting a picture in my underwear, I'm going to."
Now, she says the comments are "funny" — but most of the time, she doesn’t even finish reading them.
"I don't spend time delving into it or going to look at their profile," she says. "It's not significant enough for me to have an impact on me."
The actress did, however, move some of her sexier pics to OnlyFans, where she now manages her own account. She announced the OnlyFans venture with an Instagram photo of herself on a toilet. At the time, she saw the opportunity as a "fun second social media account." Since launching it, it's become financially lucrative.
"I know that people have said that it's controlling their image, and I haven't put that one together in my head," she explains. "I didn't go into it to make money. That's not why I did it. I did it almost in retaliation for all of this stuff that was going on with the hate [on Instagram.] Also, I was seeing all of these celebrities posting nude photos of themselves on Instagram, but sort of covering themselves, you know — all of their important bits with their hands, and then the public praising them and saying, 'Hey, you know, more power to you — girl power, or whatever.'"
One other thing that D’Errico contends with is the idea that her body was created solely by plastic surgery. She says that she had plastic surgery to tighten her skin after losing weight she had gained following the death of her mother.
"What they love to say, whenever I post a photo of myself where I'm looking really great and my body looks great — they don't like to credit it to all of the hard work that I have done in the gym," she says. "They like to credit it to the plastic surgery that I had years ago. ‘Oh, all of that was created in the surgery room.' Well, let me tell you something: You can't create my body that you've seen me posting on Instagram in an operation room. It just can’t be done. There's no amount of money that can do that."
In addition to hiking and working out in the gym, D'Errico says that she’s sworn off alcohol. While she maintains she did not have "an addiction to alcohol," she says she would drink in excess "to the point of blacking out" whenever she did indulge.
"It's a celebration for me because now, I don't have to have any of those days where I wonder what it is that I said or did the night before, that plagues me for months,” she says. "It's been great because I've accomplished a lot of things since then."
One thing that D'Errico doesn’t think about is aging.
"I don't focus on age. Age is so irrelevant," she says. "Who cares about how old anybody is? I could tell you that I'm 30 or I could tell you that I'm 70 — I'm still the same person sitting here. I don't think that age has anything to do with anything. I'm just me. I'm just Donna."
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357)
Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Get to know the who behind the hoo with Yahoo Life’s newsletter. Sign up here.