Denise Spidle had a big decision to make.
Should she accept an offer to appear as a model in the Ã¢ÂÂWomen of KUÃ¢ÂÂ 2003 Swimsuit Calendar?
Searching for an answer, Spidle turned toward the best source of wisdom she could think of.
Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm totally committed to his will in my life. I prayed before I did this, and I think he wanted me to do it. He knew I was looking for a way to get involved at KU and meet people,Ã¢ÂÂ said Spidle, 19.
She ultimately decided it was the right move. Three photos of her are included in the calendar, which was launched Friday at a signing session with all the models at Jayhawk Bookstore.
It wasnÃ¢ÂÂt an easy choice for Spidle. She had to really think it through, and there were some thorny issues to weigh.
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs because Spidle, a Kansas University sophomore from Hesston, is a faithful, church-going Catholic.
Not only that, sheÃ¢ÂÂs involved in liturgical ministry at St. Lawrence Catholic Center, 1631 Crescent Road.
She goes to Mass there every Sunday, lectoring - doing the first and second reading during the service - as well as playing the role of Eucharistic minister, serving Communion to worshippers.
TheyÃ¢ÂÂre duties she doesnÃ¢ÂÂt take lightly.
So how would her Catholicism square with being a swimsuit model? Would it betray her beliefs as a religious person? And what would other Catholics think?
To those who might doubt her intentions, Spidle has a simple response.
Ã¢ÂÂHave a little faith,Ã¢ÂÂ she said, smiling.
Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt think (the appearance in the calendar) should come as a surprise. Everybody has to have a little fun in their lives. I hope people wonÃ¢ÂÂt be judgmental.Ã¢ÂÂ
Her first gig as a model started easily enough.
Ã¢ÂÂI saw an ad in the (University) Daily Kansan. I didnÃ¢ÂÂt take it too seriously at first. Then a friend of mine who has some modeling experience said, Ã¢ÂÂ'You should do it,Ã¢ÂÂ so I sent in a couple of photos,Ã¢ÂÂ Spidle said.
She got a quick response.
Ã¢ÂÂThey gave me a call that night,Ã¢ÂÂ she said. Ã¢ÂÂI was surprised and pleased. I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get to know people.Ã¢ÂÂ
Spidle, a broadcast journalism major, was asked to come in to have more pictures taken, and she was invited to fill out an application to be a model for the calendar. Within a week, she was offered the job.
Ã¢ÂÂYou donÃ¢ÂÂt realize, itÃ¢ÂÂs going to be a lot of work and time. But some of the best people IÃ¢ÂÂve met on this campus are in that calendar. TheyÃ¢ÂÂre incredibly intelligent and unpretentious,Ã¢ÂÂ she said.
Ã¢ÂÂWith 24 girls, youÃ¢ÂÂd expect thereÃ¢ÂÂd be some cattiness. But thereÃ¢ÂÂs a total lack of attitude. TheyÃ¢ÂÂre just fun-loving girls, very warm and entertaining to be around.Ã¢ÂÂ
SheÃ¢ÂÂs happy with the pictures of her that finally were chosen: a waist-up shot of her in a T-shirt, a bathing-suit pose and a Ã¢ÂÂhigh fashionÃ¢ÂÂ photo of her in evening wear.
Ã¢ÂÂWhen I saw the proofs, I was like, Ã¢ÂÂ'Wow - good lighting,Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ she said.
And Spidle would do it again in a minute.
Ã¢ÂÂI think itÃ¢ÂÂs good exposure. My career (in broadcast journalism) would call for being in the public eye,Ã¢ÂÂ she said. Ã¢ÂÂMaybe this is a good way to get comfortable with that.Ã¢ÂÂ
Feeling close to God
Swimsuit model or not, faith means everything to Spidle.
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs my total foundation in life. Everyone has to have something to fall back on, and I guess if youÃ¢ÂÂre going to fall back on something, God would be the strongest thing,Ã¢ÂÂ she said.
Identifying as a Catholic is important to her, and occasionally that means taking a few hits for her beliefs.
Ã¢ÂÂYou go through life, and sometimes you get admired and sometimes you get persecuted for your faith,Ã¢ÂÂ she said. Ã¢ÂÂBut I ultimately feel my faith is what is going to give me the advantage.Ã¢ÂÂ
Her participation in Sunday Masses has been especially meaningful.
Ã¢ÂÂIt feels awesome. Coming together to worship as a community is really one of the best ways to experience your faith, because itÃ¢ÂÂs shared. You just feel so much closer to God when youÃ¢ÂÂre speaking his word or serving the Eucharist,Ã¢ÂÂ she said.
In the end, deciding to appear in the Ã¢ÂÂWomen of KUÃ¢ÂÂ calendar felt right to Spidle. And if some donÃ¢ÂÂt agree with it, thatÃ¢ÂÂs OK.
Ã¢ÂÂPeople often misinterpret GodÃ¢ÂÂs intentions. But IÃ¢ÂÂll leave his decisions for me up to him, not other people,Ã¢ÂÂ she said.