Thursday

From Victoria's Secret Model to Role Model Part II - Kylie Bisutti

This is the second part of a two-part series on former Victoria's Secret Model Kylie Bisutti. To read the first part of Kylie's story, click HERE.

. . . When her first boyfriend dumped her, she became depressed. That's when she met Catalina, a girl from school. Although they didn’t know each other well, Catalina invited Kylie to visit her church’s youth group. Kylie surprised herself by saying yes. Though she didn’t understand much of what she heard that night, the message was hope-filled, and the students were kind. She became a regular at youth group and church service and signed up for a week of summer camp.


Summer camp was the opposite of her modeling focus on externals. “Instead of the focus being on the physical side of me,” Kylie says, “it was all about spiritual transformation. For the first time in my life, I learned to look on the inside and discover my true identity in Christ.” At a bonfire the last night of camp, Kylie asked Christ to forgive her sins and guide her life. 


She returned a new person, making Christian friends, devouring her Bible, and growing in her faith. When her modeling career took off and she moved to New York City, Kylie says, “My life was a study in contrasts. I was equally attracted to two worlds that could not have been more diametrically opposed. The disconnect is crystal clear to me now, but back then, at the age of 16 and with only a basic understanding of Christianity and the Bible, I couldn’t see that those two paths would put me on an inevitable collision course.”


A whirlwind of increasingly sensual photo shoots, modeling gigs, and pressure from her agency to lose more weight moved Kylie farther from her newfound faith. Desperate dieting dropped her weight to a mere 108 pounds. 


“Thankfully,” Kylie says, “God is patient with us, not to mention generous. He was about to give me a second chance.” As an 18th birthday gift, Kylie's parents paid for her to accompany them on a business trip to Cancun, and there she met her future husband, Mike. Mike was a businessman who knew nothing about modeling, something Kylie loved about him.


After a whirlwind courtship, they married the following year and settled far from the glamour of New York. “I had a wonderful husband that I adored, and I was basking in what it meant to be truly known and loved, “ Kylie says. “ I felt closer to my family than I had in years, and my relationship with God was growing stronger every day. My dreams of becoming a famous runway model had all but faded into the background, and I felt content with that.”


Then temptation came knocking when Kylie heard that Victoria’s Secret was searching for a Runway Angel for a television special. “Every deep-seated craving for fame, glory, and attention I’d thought I’d set aside for good came roaring back in full force,” Kylie remembers. 


Unaware of the dangers and wanting to be supportive, Mike agreed to let her compete. To her delight, Kylie made the cut from thousands of applicants to 35, then 10, and then the final two.


But the competition was opening both her and her husband's eyes. “While Mike was doing his best to be a loving, supportive husband,” Kylie recounts, “he privately was struggling with the idea of having his wife parade around onstage in sexy lingerie while millions of men looked on and applauded.” Mike began praying for wisdom.


When Kylie was chosen as the winner of the competition, she went away with a new understanding. “I’d been in the industry long enough to know how morally bankrupt it could be—the drugs, the nudity, the sex—but I always figured that once you reached a certain level—this level—things would be different.” 

But it wasn’t. Modeling jobs and offers flooded in as well as opportunities to compromise. There were expectations for a Victoria’s Secret Angel, but her year of spiritual growth between modeling jobs and her love for Mike gave her a perspective she hadn’t had before.


“I knew I couldn’t continue to pursue a career as a supermodel—let alone a Victoria’s Secret model—and still live a life that was honoring to God,” Kylie says. “The desires for personal fame and glory would always stand in direct opposition to the kind of humility and modesty God desires. And they would forever stand in the way of my becoming the kind of God-honoring wife Mike deserved—the kind of woman I read about in Proverbs 31.”


Since she had never signed a contract with Victoria’s Secret, she was able to walk away and move with her husband to Montana, where she concentrated on becoming the woman God wanted her to be. She expected to continue modeling, but spend most of her time in her roles as wife and, someday, mother. That changed with a simple tweet. 


It was time for the 2011 Victoria’s Secret Runway competition, and Kylie’s Twitter stream was flooded with comments from women comparing themselves unfavorably to the supermodels in the competition. Alex Eklund, the founder of Live 31, an organization committed to helping women gain a healthy, biblical self-image, jumped into the conversation. I’d rather have a Proverbs 31 woman than a VS model, he tweeted. 


Kylie tweeted back I quit being a VS model to become a Proverbs 31 wife.


Within minutes, Eklund contacted Kylie and asked if she’d write a blog post sharing her story for his website. Realizing that saying yes would probably put the final nail in her modeling coffin, Kylie agreed. The post caught the attention of FoxNews.com, who requested an interview. Within a day, Dr. Phil, Rosie O’Donnell, Anderson Cooper, and Good Morning America were also clamoring for interviews.


Suddenly, Kylie understood why she had won the Victoria’s Secret Angel competition. “I think God allowed me to have this platform so I could share my story with other people. I was never meant to be a top model—I was meant to be a role model.” 


Now retired from modeling, Kylie, 23, has become a sought-after speaker, sharing her message on the importance of modesty and helping young women understand that true beauty comes from within. Her book, I’m No Angel – From Victoria’s Secret Model to Role Model, hit the bookstores this spring, and her website, www.KylieBisutti.com offers hope and direction for struggling women of all ages. 


What would Kylie say if she had the chance to speak one-on-one with each 12-year-old girl in America? “I would tell her that she is beautifully and wonderfully made,” she says, “that she has a Savior who made her just the way he wanted, and that he finds beauty in her even when she may feel like the world does not.”








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8 comments:

  1. Hi Lori,

    I'm Cassandra and I'm here via Inspire Me Monday. I read this post and part one. What a powerful testimony Kylie has not only for young girls but for adult women as well. It really gave me something to think about. Thanks for sharing her story.

    ~ Cassandra from Renaissance Women

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  2. What a beautiful story, especially to a mom of 5 girls. I will definitely be sharing this with them so they can have a wonderful example to look toward as well. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  3. This is SO needed - right now, on the news, on the internet, in youth groups, in schools... “I think God allowed me to have this platform so I could share my story with other people. I was never meant to be a top model—I was meant to be a role model.” Kylie shows how strong a woman can be when rooted in Christ - Thank you!

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  4. I'm visiting from the Hear it on Sunday link-up. What an amazing testimony to our God! He works in ways we cannot fathom. :) I'll be sharing this one around - thanks!

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  5. Beautiful testimony from someone who was almost lost to an industry that devours women. So glad someone was willing to make a move to invite her that day. God works through all of us, she was lucky enough to see it help her friend. Stopping by from Messy Marriage.

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  6. What a wonderful story. I'm going to share this with my 12 yr old daughter.

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  7. I heard about this gal's story on the Today Show but didn't know many of the details. Thanks so much for sharing about them here, Lori. It's an amazing story of how God changes our perspectives and desires when we follow Him. I'm grateful for women like Kylie, who go against the societal norms and pressures and stands up for what is right. Very inspiring post!

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  8. This is a beautiful story. Thanks, Lori.

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