Fashion

05.15.13

Former Victoria’s Secret Model Kylie Bisutti Talks Leaving the Runway for God

Former Victoria’s Secret model Kylie Bisutti quit the modeling industry to become a Christian housewife. Her new book, I’m No Angel, details her journey.

It’s not every day that you meet a lingerie model who has written a book about her devotion to the “Lord.”  But Kylie Bisutti’s I’m No Angel (released Tuesday) is the exception. It begins with proverb 31:30, which reads: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” The line sums up Bisutti’s exit from the modeling world, and serves as a prelude to the 23-year-old’s stories of commitment to the Christian church, as well as her strong stance against the industry’s inherent immodesty.

In 2009, you may have caught Bisutti on a household television screen after she beat out 10,000 girls to win the Victoria’s Secret Runway Angel Search contest. It’s then, at age 19, that the Idaho-born, Las Vegas-raised model pranced down the runway at the lingerie brand’s annual fashion show in  a bejeweled black lace lingerie set—an opportunity that led to a feature in the label’s swimsuit catalog. A contract with IMG models followed soon thereafter.

Bisutti’s first go at modeling began at age 16, when she encountered “a lot of pressure to have to be a certain weight,” in order to book jobs with New York-based contemporary labels like Jill Stuart and Yigal Azrouel.  She says that at the beginning of her career, “my agency actually called me a fat pig and that I was a cow and needed to lose two inches off of my hips, weight off of my waist, or they weren’t going to send me on castings because I was too big…I got very unhealthy thin,” she told The Daily Beast. At 5-foot-10 and 108 pounds, she got an early wakeup call when “my [8-year-old] cousin, when I was a lot thinner than I am now, told me that she thinks that she should throw up her food so she can feel pretty like me, and that really just showed me the kind of impact that the way I was living my life had on younger girls.”

After taking an industry hiatus, Bisutti briefly returned to the profession in a slightly curvier, Victoria’s Secret-approved iteration. But while she admits that a spot in Victoria’s Secret’s lineup was the pinnacle in her lifelong dream of modeling (“It was always my dream to be a Victoria’s Secret model, and so accomplishing that was a huge thing in my career” ) the day following the show she “broke down and started sobbing. I was in my bedroom and dropped to my knees and started to pray,” as she wrote in an essay in The New York Post.  She says the experience was far from the Christian modesty she had been instructed to embody since childhood. Already married for a few months, Bisutti wrote that “Victoria’s Secret execs e-mailed to tell me that I’d caught the eye of one of the celebrities at the after party.” She says she refused the invitation, citing devotion to her husband.

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Kylie Bisutti dishes on the pressures of the modeling industry, and how she was once called a 'fat pig.'

Victoria’s Secret did not return The Daily Beast’s requests for comment, but the brand did issue a statement last month to People magazine saying that Bisutti has embellished her association with the company. "[Bisutti] has repeatedly fabricated her work experience with Victoria's Secret—including a relationship that simply did not exist," the statement said. Bisutti responded in her interview with The Daily Beast: “I think their comments were mainly based on things they’d heard in the media. The media was saying that I was slamming them and I have no intentions of slamming them, or misrepresenting VS in my book.” She admits to still shopping in Victoria’s Secret stores.

Sitting doe-eyed in a chair at the Beast's New York headquarters with a silver cross pendant prominently gracing her clavicle, Bisutti explains: “As I continued modeling lingerie, my convictions grew about wanting to honor my husband and our marriage and not having other men see me in lingerie, and also my desire to be a better role model for girls everywhere.” (She’ll soon channel her admiration for more modest fashions into something tangible with the release of a “Christian fashion line.”)

In 2009, following her Victoria’s Secret triumph, Bisutti decided—yet again— that modeling was not for her. It was then, while accompanying her husband on a business trip, that she tweeted: “I quit being a VS model to become a Proverbs 31 wife.” Her move quickly earned her national headlines and the book deal that spawned Tuesday’s release (which is distributed through Tyndale, a Christian books publisher)—was meant to convey that Bisutti is “always seeking God first in everything that I do.” She continues: “I’m just working on being the right kind of wife to my husband as far as looking to him as the only person that gives me attention ... He is the only man that’s gonna see me in lingerie, now that I’m not a lingerie model.”

“I’m just working on being the right kind of wife to my husband ... He is the only man that’s gonna see me in lingerie, now that I’m not a lingerie model.”

She and her husband have since relocated to Montana, where they “really just focus on going to church and building our relationship with the Lord. It’s just an amazing place to be, we love it there,” Bisutti says. “It’s just really a lot of outdoors things going on, there’s mountains everywhere and trees and it’s just beautiful.” The move has allowed Bisutti to focus on her marriage, a task which she feels “[is] just being his helpmate, helping him, and just loving him the way that he deserves to be loved.”

The departure from her lifestyle as a lingerie model has left Bisutti “so much happier.” She said: “I’m just so grateful that God changed my heart and that he changed my life, because living my life for him and having that be the number one thing in my life has made all the difference.” Bisutti’s strong faith even influenced her decision to cancel her personal Facebook account. “I was in a really bad place, I wasn’t using Facebook for the right reasons, I was using it to get attention, and definitely putting it before God in my life,” she says.

Bisutti feels that releasing a book, one which “goes back to when I was in high school, when I made some of the biggest mistakes in my life,” like losing her virginity as a young teen, will “help other girls who maybe the same thing happened to, or they feel like they’ve made some mistake that they can’t find hope in, but there is hope.”  And it’s a hope that, she says, is all thanks to God’s work. As she writes in her book: “my story was the stuff of sheer genius. I just wasn’t the genius behind it.”