Playmate Abigaill O'Neill shot by Kayla Varley for Playboy

Abigail O'Neill

When I was 18, I packed my bags, rounded up $2,000 and got out of Kansas without saying a word to anyone. I had grown up in Wichita and gone to the University of Kansas in Lawrence for a semester, and suddenly I was moving to Seattle. I didn’t know anyone there, but I wasn’t happy in Kansas, where I knew everyone and just felt complacent, like I wasn’t destined to be there. I knew the only way I could change that was by changing my life. It was scary—I slept in the car on the way up—but like they say, without great risk there’s no reward.

Around the same time, I got really, really into nutrition and fitness. I transferred to Seattle University to study business and sports nutrition. And I started ­modeling—all fitness at first, because so many of those brands are headquartered in the Northwest. It was my agent at Wilhelmina who brought up the idea of modeling for Playboy. To be honest, I was a little worried about what my dad would think, but at the same time I was excited. The ­playboy team told me, “You’re going to be part of the ­family.” I really liked that, and I enjoy what the brand is turning into. It has evolved, and the pictorials are done tastefully—it’s art.
I know I can help other people, specifically other women, find the confidence I didn’t have.
The shoot was so much fun. I was sipping champagne in the bathtub! And the nudity? I’m pretty comfortable. Sometimes I’m a little shy, but I’m getting past that. As long as it’s done well, I have no problem. The human body is beautiful.

People look at my body like, “Oh, you were born with that,” but I worked hard to be where I am right now. I had been skinny fat—naturally skinny but not ­really in shape—­before I got into training. I started buying my own groceries at the age of 13 or 14, because my family doesn’t eat healthily. It started off, I’m not going to lie, as more of an eating disorder, but I turned it into educating myself and figuring out what I was putting into my body. I’ve learned so much from the way I train and what I’ve done for my health. I think a lot of other women can too; that’s the reason I started training, the reason I shot for Playboy. I still have a lot of things to work through, but working out and building that foundation have given me new confidence.
That confidence is the reason I want to make a ­career of this. I know I can help other people, specifically other women, find the confidence I didn’t have. We’re all searching for it in different ways, but if you can empower yourself and others, it’s a beautiful thing. I just want to keep growing.



Wichita, Kansas
Los Angeles, CA
Spring 2019
We didn’t have cell phones when we were young; at least I didn’t. We were all about going outside, playing, riding our bikes—just a simple, fun life. I’m glad I was raised in the Midwest, because it gave me a better sense of things. I feel I’m a lot more grounded because of it.

I have two older siblings, one younger sibling and four step-siblings. My dad remarried, and all the kids are about the same age. We all went to school together. Now most of us are out of the house, so family gatherings are big.

My family supports me through everything I do. My dad convinced me that if I was ever having a hard time, I could come back to Kansas, but I think they’ve given up on that. Clearly, I made the jump. on competition I’m always thinking, How can I be better than I was yesterday? What can I do differently? You shouldn’t think of other people as competition, but so many people out there are “on it,” and if you’re not, you’re going to get washed away.

When I lived in Seattle I went hiking every weekend. I never went out—I worked out. I’m always trying to find a new way to work my body. I’m a trainer at heart; that’s my forte. I like anything that gets my heart racing.

I’m into old-school hip-hop, so obviously I love Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Nas and Ja Rule. I was raised around all that stuff. My favorite song since I was a kid is “Into You” by Fabolous featuring Tamia. When I get married, I don’t know how it will happen, but that song has to be played somewhere.

I’m a relationship girl; I don’t sleep around. Every guy I sleep with, I date, and it’s because I get attached. I’ve never been on Tinder or anything like that—it’s not really my scene—but I think it has definitely changed the game. Hooking up is all people seem to want to do nowadays, and they do it so casually. I’ve never looked at it that way. What’s the point?

I firmly believe that you should never be the smartest person in the room. What motivates me is knowing my potential, knowing what I want. Things won’t always go my way, but the hope and the possibility of making things happen are what wake me up in the morning.


Introducing #TheSpeechIssue: Spring 2019

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