Before reaching 18, she was living the fantasy of many teenage girls. Kylie Bisutti was traveling the world and living the life of a successful model. Though she claims there were instances when some tried to take advantage of her, with the support of family, she continued on.
Her modeling career reached its high point when in 2009 she won the Victoria Secret Angel contest, beating out thousands of other hopefuls. Winning the contest gave her the opportunity to be a part of the yearly Victoria Secret Fashion show, watched yearly by millions on television. The experience gave Kylie the opportunity to meet some of the world’s most famous models. These were women she looked up to, runway stars like Heidi Klum and Miranda Kerr.
But a career as a New York City based, high profile model was not enough for her. It all ended when the married Kylie was asked to pose in ways she felt were overly sexually suggestive, for a men’s magazine. Those things just did not make her feel comfortable, given her marriage and growing Christian faith.
Ms. Bisutti shares her stories and sheds light on the dark side of the modeling industry in her new book titled I’m No Angel. Kylie addresses many of the misconceptions about modeling in our CYInterview. You can read the highlights of our conversation or listen to in its entirety below:
Listen to the entire Kylie Bisutti CYInterview:
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Though Kylie has stated she regrets many of the things she did as a model, she says the experience has made her more confident:
“I’m pretty thankful that I’ve already been through a lot and now I’m able to share it with girls that are my age and younger and you know help them if they’re going through some of the same things. … I have a lot of positives looking back because I believe if it weren’t for all the things that took place, I wouldn’t be as confident as I am now. I wouldn’t be the person that I am now. I wouldn’t have the marriage that I do now.”
In her book, I’m No Angel, she talks about how as a teenager she received praise for her looks and that led to her not caring about anything else. The model explains how she became one dimensional and how that experience can be the same for other girls:
“I think that as a young girl I got praised a lot for my looks and it really became something that people saw in me and you know were proud of me for I guess you could say. So that kind of just slowly became my identity. I became wrapped up in it and I think a lot of times with our society it’s so outer appearance driven that it’s easy for little girls to get caught up in thinking that’s the only thing that they have of value.”
When she was in junior high and already 5’8”, Kylie says she was teased for being too tall. She explains how this led her to wanting to succeed in modeling so kids would stop making fun of her:
“I think that it is a really common thing for girls to get teased. I know I saw it all the time when I was in school and I hear stories all the time now about girls getting bullied and teased and you know it could be about all kinds of things. But I really think it has a lot of negative effects on the young girls because we care at that age so much what our peers think of us. And so for me personally it really drove me to want to succeed in something and modeling was that thing for me to kind of prove to people that I was worthy, you know, that I didn’t deserve their teasing me.”
One caution Ms. Bisutti has for aspiring models is to be aware of questionable photographers, the kind who might try to pressure them into doing inappropriate things:
“A lot of models, especially in the lingerie field, it’s really a big thing about flirting and you know being very flattering and with the clients and the photographers and it really can get you a long way and the phrases that they use about you know models and actresses can get to the top of the industry by being very flattering and maybe even advancing on different things with photographers and there’s definitely a word of warning for models that photographers will try and get you to do things with them. I definitely had photographers that pressured me to try and do a lot of things and it’s very scary for young girls getting involved at young ages of 14.”
With her new autobiography, the 21 year old hopes she can educate young girls about the dark side of the modeling business. She believes most young girls who get into the field have no idea what to expect until they experience it.
“I really think that most girls don’t know what’s going on before they actually experience these things for themselves and that’s one of the reasons why I’m, you know, really passionate about writing this book and kind of exposing some of the things that go on because most little girls have no clue that some of these things are what’s going on. You know they look at the modeling industry and think it’s so glamorous and the agencies tell the parents, ‘You know, everything’s gonna to be fine; we’re gonna watch over your daughter.’ When really the girls as young as 14 are going out partying every night and drinking and there’s no supervision. So you know most of them don’t know until they actually are living it and experience it.”
To the outside world, the woman you look at on a billboard or advertisement might look like an adult woman in her early 20s. Many times, however, the hair and makeup make her look older than she really is. It is very possible she is under the age of 18 even if she looks much older. Kylie explains how models’ ages are often misjudged:
“You know most people think that models are so much older than they really are because they see them in these magazines and there’s so much photoshop and makeup that are on these young girls. And I mean, there’s models that are 14 that you would think they’re like 21 or 22 in these pictures, but they’re very, very young and most people don’t realize how young models start off in the career. You know if you don’t start young then you’re really way behind. And so you know it is true that if you’re younger and getting involved you’re gonna have more success because they really like younger models in the industry.”
In terms of weight challenges, Kylie says that while modeling in New York at 5’9”, 125 lbs. she was considered fat. She says that after getting down to 108 lbs. after a holiday break, she started getting booked again for shoots.
“I was a size two when everyone was you know referring to me as the big model when my agents called me fat and told me that I needed to lose the weight. And so I have no idea how that could even be possible until I looked at you know the sizes of the other models and I realized they’re all double zeros mostly and some of them are size zero. And so for me being a size two, I was definitely a lot bigger than all of them and you know losing all the weight down to 108 lbs. really affected me a lot.
It pretty much warped my mind and my view of myself because when the agencies started calling me fat, I actually started believing it and I would look in the mirror and see myself as somebody who is very overweight when really I was you know a size two and so I dropped all the weight in very unhealthy ways and then the crazy thing was is when I went back to New York I started booking jobs left and right. So it’s really a big emotional thing for models you know ‘cause they lose the weight and then they book jobs and so they want to keep losing more weight.”
In her memoir, Ms. Bisutti discusses some of the health issues that can come from being too thin. She shares with us some of her experiences, shedding light on an unhealthy part of the industry:
“There’s a lot of different things. Anemia can result of it, organ damage, hair loss. I now struggle with hypoglycemia. You know, there’s just all sorts of different things. You can, when you lose too much weight in your face, in certain parts of your face, you can’t ever get it back, like under your cheekbones and so you know that’s very damaging because as women get older they want to, you know, have a fuller face and they can’t get that back if they’ve already lost all of that. And so not only that, but models have lost babies because they weren’t getting enough nutrition and so they ended up miscarrying their babies because of eating disorders and being hospitalized over and over again and so it’s a really scary thing. And a lot of models even die from it every year, but most people don’t hear about that because it’s not something that is publicized or on the news.”
One of her biggest pieces of advice for models is to speak up when they are not comfortable in a certain setting. She believes that can prevent certain regrets:
“I had to, you know, go through a lot to finally learn that it’s so important to just speak up for yourself and, you know, stand up for what you believe in and not get pressured into uncomfortable situations or things that you’ll later, you know, feel bad about or be, you know, hurting about or things that’ll really impact you for the negative. And so I really would encourage girls to just be very strong and knowing that they can stand up for themselves. Unfortunately models don’t have a union. So that also makes it, you know, hard for models to go somewhere when a situation does arise and so I really think it’s an important thing for the models to stand up for themselves because your agency won’t always stand up for you like you need to be stood up for when people are pressuring you.”
Even after having lucrative opportunities in New York and winning the Victoria Secret Angel competition in 2009, it was her love for her husband and Christian beliefs that made her stop lingerie modeling. She says for a while she never thought posing in lingerie or other risqué clothing was a problem for someone who is a Christian. As time went on she realized it was an issue and left those opportunities in New York and with Victoria Secret behind. Now, Kylie is working on what she terms a Christian fashion line and says it will be fashionable, trendy and help spread God’s message.
“When I first started modeling lingerie, I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with it from a Christian standpoint and now obviously I have a totally different view of it. But in the beginning I would always just justify what I was doing because I wanted to continue to do it and get that attention. And so you know I would just say, ‘Well everybody you know wears lingerie or it’s basically like a bathing suit.’ Or you know just different justifications like that. I would say to myself, ‘You know, this is a career. Somebody’s gotta do it.’ I would say stuff like that. So it’s just constant justifying it in my own mind about posing in lingerie and stuff like that. But now, you know, I really strongly believe that it is destructive and, you know, I feel very badly about all of it now and I definitely wouldn’t want to do that from a Christian standpoint anymore.”
You can find more information and purchase a copy of Kylie Bisutti’s book I’m No Angel at the link here
Kylie Bisutti’s official website is here.
You can follow Kylie on Twitter here.
You can email Chris Yandek at ChrisYandek@CYInterview.com
You can follow Chris Yandek on Twitter here.