'I'm No Angel': A Victoria's Secret model looks back
Far from the glitz and glamour largely associated with a high profile modeling career, Kylie Bisutti struggled with her conscience and issues of self-esteem in the fashion industry. In the end, she chose faith over fame. In "I'm No Angel," she looks back. Here's an excerpt.
“Are these my clothes?” I asked, flipping through the outfits on the rack.
“No, yours are over there.” One of the assistants pointed to a rack on the other side of the room.
“Thanks.” I walked to the other rack and grabbed the only two outfits on it.
That’s funny, I thought, I could have sworn they told me I’d be modeling three outfits today.
“Excuse me,” I said, catching the attention of a passing intern. “I seem to be missing an outfit. Do you know where it might be?”
“Let me find out,” she said. Then she called across the studio, “Hey, does anyone know where the rest of the big model’s clothes are?”
The big model? I froze, mortified, as all eyes turned to me.
How can I be the big model? My mind was reeling. I’m only a size 2. Convinced I must have misunderstood, I started thumbing through the other girls’ outfits to check the sizes. Sure enough, every garment on the rack was either a size 0 or a size 00.
I was the big model.
I was flabbergasted. Back in high school, I’d thought I was too skinny when I weighed 125. Now here I was, almost ten pounds lighter, and all of a sudden I was fat?
This is insane, I thought. I weighed the same amount back in February, and I walked in seven shows during Fashion Week! Embarrassed but resolved, I gathered my “enormous” size 2 outfits and skulked off to change. Fashion Week castings started in two weeks, and I felt confident there were at least seven designers out there who would be happy to have me walk in their shows again. I took a deep breath. It was going to take a lot more than one thoughtless comment from an intern to make me crack.
* * *
Two weeks later, Fashion Week castings were in full swing. Brittany and several of the other models I knew from Red Model were going out on two, sometimes three castings a day, and I had yet to be invited to one. My agent kept sending me out for more test shoots, even though my portfolio was already full. When she called to tell me about yet another test shoot, I pushed her for an explanation.
“Why am I doing another test shoot when everyone else is going out on castings for Fashion Week?”
“Do you really want to know, Kylie?” She sounded exasperated. “It’s because you are a fat pig right now. You are a cow, and I don’t want any of our clients to see you this way!”
I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut.
Before I could catch my breath to respond, she continued, “Your thighs are too big. Your butt is too big. You’re just . . . big!”
Now the tears were falling. This was the second time in two weeks someone had told me I was too big. And this time it wasn’t some lowly intern. It was my own agent— the person who was supposed to believe in me and fight for me. More important, she was the one who arranged all my bookings for me. Without her help, I was finished.
“Okay,” I managed to sputter. “I’ll work on it.” Before she could say anything more, I hung up, collapsed on my bed, and sobbed.
What would I do? I was already thinner than I’d ever been. I couldn’t imagine losing any more weight, nor could I imagine how I was supposed to lose any more weight. I was already doing double the cardio I normally did, and I had all but eliminated carbs from my diet. What was left?
I got up from the bed, walked to the full- length mirror, and took a good, long look. I think I look pretty good, I reasoned. But then, just as I was about to turn away, the voices started echoing in my mind: Where are the big model’s clothes? You are a fat pig. Your thighs are too big. Your butt is too big. You’re a cow.
That’s when something switched inside me. I suppose I could stand to lose a little off my waist, I thought, running my hands from my ribs down to my hips. And my thighs. I turned to the right, glanced over my left shoulder and sighed. And my butt.
It’s amazing the power a few words can have on a person. When spoken in kindness, they can fill you with hope and encouragement, and make you feel as if you can conquer the world. But when they’re spoken in ignorance or cruelty, they can fill you with shame and self- doubt. And in my case, they made me see pounds that weren’t even there.
Taken from I'm No Angle by Kylie Bisutti. Copyright © 2013 by Kylie Bisutti. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.