Refusing to “sell sex”, former Victoria’s Secret model Kylie Bisutti quit her career in lingerie modeling and turned down potentially "multi-million dollar" offers for her desire to be a positive role model for teenage girls and for her Christian faith in God.
"Beauty isn’t about what you look like, but it’s about what’s in your heart. That’s the most important thing,” said the 23-year-old Bisutti, who will be releasing her new book I'm No Angel: From Victoria's Secret Model to Role Model on May 14th, according to New York Post.
Recalling how she reached her decision to quit, Bisutti told the Post that she “broke down and started sobbing” the day after a FHM photographer kept urging her during a photo shoot to pull up her panties as if she is not wearing it despite her discomfort.
“That’s when it hit me. I was being paid to strip down and pose provocatively to titillate men. It wasn’t about modeling clothes anymore; I felt like a piece of meat,” she told the Post.
While growing up in Las Vegas, Bisutti said that she grew up thinking that “models defined beauty and beauty meant you were important.” Since her childhood, she dreamed of becoming a model someday. When she was 15, a girl invited her to a church’s youth group party. There, her life was changed. “I’d never been to church, but hearing that Jesus died for my sins was just amazing to me.”
Despite her conversion, Bisutti continued her dream to become a model. In 2009, she won the Victoria’s Secret Model Search contest as the "Runway Angel." Her career pushed forward as she posed for men’s magazines like Maxim and FHM and other venues.
While modeling in New York, Bisutti said she started seeing the dark sides of the modeling industry. She had a bulimic roommate who would involuntarily throw up when she ate and look at herself in mirror thinking she was so fat when she was thin. Also, a photographer actually pushed her up against the wall and tried to kiss her.
All the while, Bisutti attended church, read her Bible, but ended up posing topless, since her agent told her, “All models have a topless shot,” according to the Post. She complied when she was only 16.
In a series of negative experiences, she started doubting whether her career as Victoria's Secret's model is really what she wanted to do.
The day after her experience at the FHM photo shoot, Bisutti in tears fell to her knees in prayer, asking God, “Why did you have me win the Victoria’s Secret Angel competition if it was going to make me feel this way? I’m not honoring my husband. I just want answers!”
Since then, she became convinced that she won’t put herself in such kind of condescending situations. Then, Sports Illustrated offered to shoot her posing in bikinis that she felt was skimpier than lingerie, so she turned down the offer.
Two years after Bisutti's win, a Victoria’s Secret lingerie show was airing on TV. She saw on Twitter “loads of tweets from women, comparing themselves to the impossible image of the models,” according to the Post.
“It made me think to earlier in my modeling career, when my 8-year-old cousin was watching me put on makeup and said to me, ‘I’m going to throw up my food so I look like you.’ I realized my career was sending a bad message to women about confidence ad body image,” she told the Post.
Bisutti decided at that moment to quit modeling and renew her commitment to God.
“I quite being a VS model to be a Proverbs 31 wife,” she wrote on Twitter in 2009, shocking fans. Proverbs 31 states, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”
Her tweet was the first time she’d gone public with her reason, which were met with surprising support from her agent but backlash from comments from models who she knew “felt judged by her decision.”
“But I’ve never been more content. These days, I’m living in Montana with my husband. Mike is the best Italian cook, and just last night, we canned 40 jars of fresh pasta sauce,” she said, according to the Post.
“I no longer restrict what I eat. I weigh 124 pounds right now, but my ideal weight is 125. I want young girls to see me at a healthy size.”
Since then, the entertainment industry has offered her other opportunities that may have cost her “millions of dollars,” but Biscutti turned them down.
One of the offers was from “Dancing With the Stars” and another was to act on a show on The CW. Biscutti told the Post, “I didn’t want to dance with a man other than my husband on the reality show or shoot scenes in a bikini for The CW.”
Today, the former Victoria’s Secret model is working to be a positive role model for young women.
“Today, I'm focused on creating a Christian clothing line, speaking tours and my blog, imnoangel.org. My clothing line comes out next month, and it will feature models of all shapes and sizes promoting our modest clothes," she told the Post.
"I want girls to see people who look like them, so they feel good about themselves."