climbing the walls with holly witt, november's ascendant playmate
She nudges her hips against the wall, about ten feet off the ground, tests her grip on a couple of tiny fingerholds, then gracefully switches feet on a bulbous knob. Every eye in the gym is on her a she lithely and calmly pushes herself past an overhang and makes it to the top. This is only her second time on a climbing wall and already she has moves that make the regulars jealous. "Tension, please," she calls softly to her climbing coach, who slowly lowers her to the ground. Her cheeks are flushed and her eyes crinkle as she squints up at the wall. "That was the hardest thing I've ever done," she says. Then after a moment, she murmurs, "I could really get into this." Holly Witt is a woman you'd believe could get into anything she really wants, and master it. She has a certain calm that makes her gaze piercing, magnetic. Nothing seems to knock Miss November off stride. "Everything happens for a reason," she says.
Born in Pennsylvania and raised in an old farmhouse, Holly says she was too shy as a child to have many friends. "I was a typical kid," she says. "After school I went home and watched TV. I was really boring." Maybe to the young ladies. But not to the guys. She had her first boyfriend in first grade - life before then, she says, just didn't offer anything as wonderful as a boy. But when she hit first grade, she went boy crazy. Unfortunately, that boy didn't have much initiative: He never even managed to win a first kiss. She smiles slyly and shakes her head. "That came later," she says.
She wasn't about to let something as precious as her first kiss happen in anything less than ideal circumstances. So, she put off those brokenhearted boys for six long years. Then one day in seventh grade, some young man got the brilliant idea of asking her to join him on an evening promenade to the shore of a nearby lake. "There was an old house on the beach," she remembers. "It was all fallen down, and we sat on a piece of the old foundation. We sat there for a long time, looking at the sunset. Then he asked if he could kiss me." She said yes. "It was," she says, "the perfect first kiss."
Perfecting her own shape didn't come easily, however. Miss November was unhappy with her looks for most of her life. "I went through an ugly duckling stage for a long time," she says. "I always wanted to look nice, but I didn't until I got older - about 21 years old." Before then, Holly wore baggy clothes that hid her blooming form and she cut her hair short.
But she longed to be beautiful. She spent hours poring over photographs of her favorite models in magazines. "I always wanted people to look at me the way they look at a model, to think I was the beautiful one," she says. So she started working at it. She let her hair grow. She began eating carefully and working out. And she learned how to choose clothes that "emphasized my good parts." Judging from this pictorial, Holly has finally found the way to emphasize her good parts, and, happily it doesn't have anything to do with clothes.
-- Jeff Posey
Photography by Arny Freytag, Stephen Wayda