Kylie Bisutti Interview by Rick Bleiweiss
RICK BLEIWEISS: Welcome to Downpour.com’s interview series. I’m Rick Bleiweiss, and today it’s my pleasure to be speaking with Kylie Bisutti. Kylie is a former Victoria’s Secret model and author of the memoir I’m No Angel. Kylie is the winner of the coveted title of Victoria's Secret Runway Angel, which launched her career. She later left the famous modeling career to pursue a life that coincided with her Christian faith. Kylie is also an actress, businesswoman, and public speaker making special appearances to share her message on the importance of modesty and to help young women understand that true beauty comes from within. Blackstone Audio is publishing the audio version of I’m No Angel, narrated by Amy Rubinate, on July 1, 2013. Welcome Kylie. Thanks for joining us today.
KYLIE BISUTTI: Thank you for having me.
RB: Our pleasure. In your memoir, I’m No Angel: From Victoria’s Secret Model to Role Model, you tell your story of choosing faith over fame and fortune, which stunned the fashion industry. Why do you think your story has caught so much attention and is so appealing to people?
KB: I think that not many people have come out and left a career, especially a career that could be so lucrative, ever, so it’s really caught a lot of media attention, as well as the whole story of wanting to help girls with body image issues. That’s really a big problem in our society today.
RB: Yes. I think it totally is. I applaud your doing this. Were you prepared for the media attention that this would draw?
KB: I was not prepared at all. I had no idea that any of this would even happen. It all started with a blog post that I did online, and it was for a Christian website so I had no idea that all of these secular news stations would contact me, all wanting to hear about the story.
RB: What was it really that prompted you to make the change? For three years you were a high-profile, multimillion-dollar model, and you decided to stop modeling to pursue this more wholesome modeling in a Christian way. What prompted you to do that?
KB: Well, God really just changed my heart and opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t being the right type of role model for young girls who were looking up to me, and I wasn’t honoring my husband and our marriage. I definitely wasn’t pursuing Christ in anything I was doing. So, He really just changed my heart about everything and opened my eyes, and it just became really apparent to me that what I was pursuing at that point in my life was not leading other people into positive things. It was leading a lot of people, including myself, into destruction.
RB: I’d like to go back to the beginning of your modeling career. When you were nineteen you beat out more than ten thousand contestants when you won the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Model Search Contest. Did you feel pressured to perform and conform to the industry after you received that coveted title?
KB: I definitely felt pressured in so many ways, especially just with the whole persona of being a Victoria’s Secret model and a high-profile lingerie model. There was a lot of pressure to always play the part, even when I was not working, because there were lots of photos of me from the paparazzi and in the press. I felt like I was always being watched and always had to uphold that image. So there was definitely a lot of pressure, as well as pressure to perform after winning the competition and to go on to have a successful career.
RB: Along those lines, your story is very enlightening and reveals a modeling industry that I think many people, if not most people, are not aware of. What made you want to share the behind-the-scenes story and share making your decision to leave so public?
KB: I really have become so passionate about sharing with girls about true inner beauty and that everything they’re looking at in these magazines and seeing in the tabloids and on TV, most of it is Photoshopped. There are so many girls who are acquiring eating disorders, or trying to live up to these standards. One in five women right now has an eating disorder. That’s such a big issue in our society, so it’s become really important to me to share all of this and expose everything involved with the industry, so that these young girls who are trying to pursue that image can really see that it’s all such an illusion.
RB: Now, in your book, you write about your life, your modeling career, and giving your heart to God. When did you start writing the book and how did the whole publishing process happen so quickly?
KB: I started writing the book a little over a year before the book came out, and it all happened very, very quickly. I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book when I was approached by different people to write a book. When I talked to who is now my literary agent, he just shared with me that writing books is one of the biggest ways to impact people and make a difference in people’s lives. That’s really what got me started on wanting to write the book and share all these things to help these girls. That’s how it all started, and then from there we just sat down and cranked away to produce this book very quickly. Everything from there happened within just a year.
RB: That’s great. Have you seen success from your endeavor to help young women understand what true beauty means?
KB: I definitely have. I receive emails all the time through my website or girls writing me through Twitter, sharing with me how they’ve been impacted greatly, and it’s been really incredible. Definitely so much more fulfilling than any modeling job or any other career that I could imagine myself being in.
RB: What do you think are some of the misconceptions about being a model? How would you paraphrase those?
KB: There are so many misconceptions. Most young girls think that modeling would be such a glamorous job. I definitely thought that when I was young and first getting involved in the industry, but there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that most girls don’t know about. So many eating disorders and drugs and alcohol, and just the push for being provocative constantly, pressured by photographers. There are so many misconceptions because most young girls just see the models in the magazines or on the runway and think they have this very glamorous life, traveling to beaches and doing all these photo shoots and making money, but it’s really not what people think. There’s just so much on the other side of it. Eating disorders and many broken hearts because there’s so much pressure in it.
RB: Do you think it’s possible for anyone to pursue modeling and still hold on to a Christian faith?
KB: For me personally it was not possible, but I do know of some Christian models who are in the industry and still working. They only take jobs that are more family-friendly, only modeling fully clothed, of course, and in advertisements that aren’t out to sell sex. But it’s hard to make it to the top of the industry. You could definitely be involved and do smaller things, but there’s no way to make it to the top without compromising.
RB: Where do you draw your strength from to do what you feel is right?
KB: Reading the Bible for me is definitely the biggest area. I could get all of my advice just from studying the Word. That’s where I get all my strength for everything.
RB: I know you were talking about the response where people are writing on your site in support of you and how you’re helping them. I was just wondering have you suffered any criticism for the decision you made? If you have, how have you dealt with that?
KB: I have had a lot of criticism as well, but the good really outweighs the bad and so I just have to keep focusing on all of the positives and all of the people’s lives who have been changed or people that have been greatly impacted because if I even for a moment focus on a negative comment it’s not going to be good for me. So I just try to focus all my energy on the people that are writing good things. I know that everything’s worth it if just a few people have been impacted.
RB: I agree with you. So what’s it been like going from big-city New York to Big Fork, Montana?
KB: It’s absolutely great. We have an amazing church here that we just love and that we are a big part of. We love it. We have a great time here. There’s not all the craziness of a big city. We can really just focus on family and our relationship with the Lord and stuff like that, so it’s a lot more low-key and peaceful.
RB: Aside from the Bible, who or what else has been your biggest inspiration or influence?
KB: Definitely my husband has been a big influence in my life. He’s constantly being patient with me, loving with everything that I do. He’s definitely a man to learn from, so he’s been a very big influence through all this.
RB: If there was one thing, what would you say the most important thing you would want people to come away with after reading or listening to I’m No Angel?
KB: I would love for people to come away with knowing that they have value, knowing that they are worthy, that their inner beauty is really what matters at the end of the day. Not their outer beauty, not striving to match up or fit in with the mold that the world tells us is beautiful, but seeing themselves the way God sees us, which is at our heart. I’ve found that I’ve become so much more confident through seeing myself that way. I think that would help a lot of young girls struggling with eating disorders or body image issues, thinking they aren’t measuring up, or they’re not worthy, not valuable. Just knowing that they are.
RB: When you started modeling and entered that Victoria’s Secret competition, you were nineteen at the time. What were you hoping for if you won?
KB: I was hoping my modeling career would completely advance because Victoria’s Secret is definitely the pinnacle of success in the modeling world. It’s what most models strive for. It was a dream come true for me at that point in my life, so for me it was all about just having success in my career.
RB: Do you happen to listen to audiobooks?
KB: I do.
RB: What are some of your favorites?
KB: There’s a really good one right now that I was recently listening to called Radical by David Platt that was a very impactful audiobook. I would recommend it to everyone.
KB: It was really great.
RB: Great. Can you share with us what you’re working on next? Do you plan to continue writing books?
KB: I do plan on writing more books. I’m also involved with a company, and we are launching a Christian clothing line. That’s something I’m really focused on right now.
RB: Is there a name for the clothing line? Will it be your name?
KB: There is a name for it, but we aren’t able to disclose any of the information because we haven’t officially launched yet.
RB: Okay. Now, if people are listening to this interview and some of them will be young women and some will not be, do you have any message you’d like to impart to them?
KB: I would just say I hope they know how truly loved and beautiful they are in Christ. Nobody’s perfect, and you can read about all my mistakes in my book (laughter) and see how I’ve found hope. There’s hope for all the young girls who may feel hopeless and lost and like they have made too many mistakes, and they aren’t worthy. Or they just don’t feel valued in this world. They are valued and they do have worth. I hope they know that and hopefully through reading my book they’ll come to see that.
RB: I congratulate you on your life choices. They’ve obviously been quite superior. I would like to thank you for joining us today, Kylie. We’re really happy about the audiobook release of I’m No Angel, and I’m very pleased to be able to speak with you today.
KB: Thank you for having me. I’m very excited about the audiobook as well.
RB: Thanks again.
KB: Thank you.
RB: Thank you for joining us for this Downpour.com interview with Kylie Bisutti. You can find I’m No Angel and all of Blackstone Audio’s titles at Downpour.com.
This interview was recorded in June 2013.
Disclaimer: This audio and transcript have been edited slightly from the original recording for quality and readability.
I’m No Angel
In December 2011, twenty-one-year-old Victoria’s Secret model Kylie Bisutti stunned the fashion industry when she chose faith over fame and fortune and made the switch from supermodel to role model.
In I’m No Angel, Kylie shares her story—from her early years struggling to make it big in the cut-throat world of modeling, her big break winning the Victoria’s Secret Runway Angel competition, and the disillusionment and spiritual warfare that followed, to the moment she realized she could no longer reconcile her career with her Christian beliefs, surrendered her life to God, said goodbye to the runway, and dedicated her life to preaching a message of modesty and inner beauty. Along the way Kylie talks about her personal struggles with inadequacy, low self-esteem, and her near-constant quest for approval in a world where you can never be thin enough, pretty enough, or sexy enough. She helps listeners understand that true beauty lies within and that real fulfillment comes from knowing, loving, and serving Christ.