'Girls of the Pac-10' gives exposure to young model from Olympia

Michelle Wittenberg.
Michelle Wittenberg.

Michelle Wittenberg has dreamed of being model for as long as she can remember.

And after starting down a road that began more than six months ago, the 22-year-old Olympia native made her modeling debut in this month’s issue of Playboy magazine.

Wittenberg, a Capitol High School graduate and senior psychology major at Washington State University in Pullman, is featured as part of Playboy’s “Girls of the Pac-10” college issue. The issue features 17 women from around the conference – at least one woman from each school. The magazine has had college editions for the past 34 years, and it last featured Pac-10 women in its October 2005 issue.

It hit newsstands last month, though Wittenberg got a sneak peak of the magazine.

“I really liked the picture,” Wittenberg said of the garden-themed pictorial.

The decision to pose began in April when Playboy visited Pullman and Wittenberg, from the advice of a friend, decided to give it a shot.

“If I got the experience to do this, it would be once in a lifetime,” she remembers thinking to herself.

After eight weeks of waiting, Wittenberg woke up one June morning to a voicemail saying she had been chosen. Several days later she was on a flight to Chicago for the shoot.

When Wittenberg arrived for hair and makeup on the morning of the shoot, the nerves had yet to hit her. That changed when she heard the photographer call her name.

“Oh my gosh, this is really happening,” she said.

She called the entire process very professional and classy – some of the main reasons she decided to pose for Playboy in the first place.

“I’ve always considered Playboy to be a tasteful, artistic nudity,” she said.

Wittenberg, who bartends and is looking forward to a career in child psychology, says she has broken out of her shell since arriving to college – so getting naked wasn’t a big deal.

“I’m very comfortable being naked,” she said.

And though she was comfortable with the process, Wittenberg admits that it was a bumpier road when it came to getting her parents on board.

“I think now that the shock and awe of it is over, they still love and support me,” she said.

Wittenberg kept most of her friends in the dark about her trip to Chicago, but since publication many have congratulated her on the shoot.

“A lot of people were just surprised because I was pretty shy when I was younger growing up,” she said.

Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 nhulings@theolympian.com