TODAY

TODAY   |  May 14, 2013

Former Victoria’s Secret model: I felt exploited

Kylie Bisutti, a former Victoria’s Secret model, shocked the fashion world when she gave up a potentially lucrative career on the catwalk to follow her faith. Bisutti talks about what led to the controversial decision, as she outlines in her no book, “I’m No Angel.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we move to a decision from a former victoria's secret model who stunned the fashion world by giving up her career. we will talk to kiley bisutti in just a moment. first, her story. three years ago at the age of 19, kylie bisutti was one of the sexiest models around. out of 10,000 contestants, america voted her to be a victoria's secret runway angel. kylie had worked modeling jobs for years and dreamed of becoming a supermodel and this was her crowning achievement.

>> but eventually kylie was ashamed.

>> it definitely made me feel like i was being made to sell sex.

>> as seen in this victoria's secret video.

>> we're talking about outer thighs, making your butt rounder.

>> kylie admits she was consumed by a pursuit of fame and physical perfection.

>> i really started to feel exploited and sexualized.

>> eventually, kylie followed her faith and took a bold step and gave up a lucrative career and followed her husband to find a more centered life in the small town of big fork, montana.

>> she came to her convictions going, i don't want to go down that road anymore. i don't feel comfortable dressing half naked to sell clothing.

>> kylie now counsel's other young women about following christian values and tells her story in the new book, "i'm no angel." victoria's secret said miss bisutti has made numerous fabrications and misstatements of fact regarding her brief association with victoria's secret . her pastor says her story rings true.

>> it's someone pursuing success and money and realizing along the way those things will not bring her the satisfaction she was looking for.

>> and kylie is with us now, her book "i'm no angel," from victoria's secret model to role model. you are from a little town in nevada called jackpot. you must have felt you won the jackpot when your modeling career took off. was that your life-long dream?

>> it was my life-long dream.

>> when did you start feeling like this was inconsistent with your values and your faith?

>> well, you know, it was a slow gradual process over time . but it really revolved around modeling lingerie. that was the pinnacle of my decisi decision, you know, being seen by other men in lingerie, when i have a precious husband at home who should be the only one to see me that way.

>> you say it dawned on you, essentially you weren't selling lingerie, you were selling sex.

>> exactly. that's my perception of it. i believe that the modeling industry as a whole really exploits young girls.

>> were you late to come to that realization. you look at you walking the runway on the victoria's secret runway. it's pretty clear what modeling is about in some ways.

>> yeah. it definitely is. i'm just thankful god changed my heart. you know, earlier on, rather than being five or 10 years down the road of runway modeling and lingerie modeling.

>> i should say you won this victoria's secret contest in 2009 . you walked the runway and participated in a swimsuit catalog shoot and beat out a lot of other young women for this. victor victoria 's secret said, we read part of the statement, you didn't have a long relationship with the company. it goes on to say in 2009 , miss bisutti won an online amateur modeling competition and hasn't worked for us and it was the opportunity for a one time walk in the victoria's secret fashion show . i guess the company is suggesting maybe you're over overstating your relationship with them in order to sell books. what would be your response?

>> my response is all the truth is in the book. my book's really not about victoria's secret . it's about the modeling industry as a whole and about helping girls with self-body image issues, eating disorders and really exposing the entire industry for what it is. it's not targeting their brand.

>> you talk a lot about some of the things you witnessed, pretty shocking, what other models were doing, the pressure you felt to be incredibly thin. can you tell us a little bit about that?

>> yeah. there was intense pressure on me. i know on many models around me to be incredibly thin. i went as far as doing crazy crash diets to drop the weight after my agency had called me fat and told me that i needed to lose weight off my thighs and hips. i did very unhealthy things to lose the weight but i was told if i didn't do it, i wouldn't book jobs and become successful.

>> do you think these experiences were unique to you or because you were just coming up and you hadn't been a huge success yet and that it would get better once you were, i guess, a more successful model? is that what you were wondering?

>> yeah. you know, the whole time through my career, i always thought, well, one day this is all going to pay off, one day it will change for me. but i realized it never really changed the way thought it would. as i saw more and more girls collapsing after runway shows, hospitalized because of eating disorders , i realized it wasn't just my experience, it was everyone in the entire industry.

>> and to choose to live out your faith in this big bold way, was it hard to make that decision? but also to give up something, as you said was a life-long dream as well.

>> you know, the amazing thing is i felt total peace about my decision. and now i'm the happiest i've ever been in my entire life. i don't regret any decisions, i'm just so happy now.

>> i'm happy to hear that. kiley ylie bisutti, thank you for sharing your story. the