(Screenshot from www.kyliebisutti.com) Kylie Bisutti, a fashion model and professing Christian, found herself at the center of a media storm beginning December 1, 2011, when she posted the following series of messages to her Twitter account about her decision to start choosing more modest modeling jobs:
- I am still modeling but only with brands that respect my decision not to wear lingerie. I am also doing TV work now :)
- For all of you that were looking for me in the Victoria's Secret runway show this year, I wasn't in it. I have decided not to model lingerie
- Because I personally feel that I am not honoring God or my husband by doing it. My marriage is very important & with divorce rates rising I
- Want to do everything I can to protect my marriage and be respectful to my husband. God graciously gave me this marriage and this life and
- My desire is to live a Godly faithful life, I don't however judge others for what they do. Everyone is convicted on different levels.
In the weeks following her announcement to leave her lucrative modeling contract, Bisutti appeared in numerous television interviews, print and online media articles elaborating on her motivation behind the decision. Press coverage seemed to be mostly positive for her faith-based move, though most news sources ran photos from her lingerie modeling days along with their stories, in obvious disrespect to Bisutti's actions to leave that part of her career in her past. Bisutti's step away from Victoria's Secret, a job she won via a model search precisely two years earlier in 2009 at the age of nineteen, coincided with the Proverbs 31 Movement started by Alex Ecklund, a student at Baylor University, who in November 2011 began a social media campaign around the phrase, "I'd rather have a Proverbs 31 wife than a Victoria's Secret model." Appropriately, Bisutti responded on Twitter to Ecklund on December 21, 2011, as follows:
I stopped being a Victoria's Secret model to become a Proverbs 31 wife! @eklund #Proverbs31Movement
Ecklund subsequently featured Bisutti's tweet along with her photo on his Live 31 website which has since been taken offline. In a video about the founding of his Proverbs 31 Movement, Ecklund states the following:
. . . It just kind of saddened me that in our culture it seems that all we value is not only external beauty but a certain type of external aesthetic. In a culture where the divorce rate is so high—I mean one of out of every two marriages will end in divorce—shouldn't we be looking for something more than just being physically attracted to someone? . . . My challenge to you is, become part of the movement. Be a Proverbs 31 woman. If you're a guy, look for the Proverbs 31 woman and don't settle for anything less.
My original thought when I first viewed a Good Morning America interview with Bisutti has been echoed by other comments around the web from conservatives who feel that Bisutti's apparel choices for interviews and the photos on her home and social media websites are still not very modest (update: Bisutti has since changed her profile pictures to appear modestly clothed). A gracious response to those complaints was voiced by Courtney Joseph, founder of Women Living Well Ministries, as part of a blog post in which she reported on her personal meeting with Bisutti in February 2012.
. . . I commend Kylie for her bravery and courage to not only quit her job but to then go on television interviews saying – “I want to honor God with my life.” We are all on our journey towards growth and maturity. Let’s support our sister in Christ in love.
Another comment left on Joseph's blog post shares a similar tone toward those who criticized Bisutti for her clothing choices during the publicity storm immediately after her decision to leave lingerie modeling.
I see both sides of this discussion, however when I think about walking a mile in Kylie’s shoes (probably some really expensive pumps), how would you make this turn around? What would it cost? Your photos and videos are everywhere with strangers owning the rights to them . . . you will never be able to fully leave the past. You could not run fast enough to escape the thousands of critics. Walking away from hundreds of thousands of dollars of income with people on both sides judging your decision has to be very, very hard. A mile in her shoes may give us all some new appreciation for grace.
It is true that few women have the height and weight requirements to do the type of modeling for which Bisutti was being booked (heights of 5'9" to 5'11", sizes 2 to 6, almost always with breast augmentation surgery required). She left behind multi-million dollar modeling contracts to take the step away from the part of the industry that she did. If she made one such change, it is entirely possible that in coming months and years she may make further changes toward modesty in her wardrobe selection. As another model, Sara Sampaio, explained to Women's Wear Daily about the price Bisutti paid to walk away from the type of contract she had with Victoria's Secret, "They pay so, so well. That’s a money job you want. Those girls don’t need to do any other jobs. They’re set." Read more about Bisutti's career and the events that led up to her decision to choose more modest modeling jobs at her blog, I'm No Angel. Bisutti writes as follows:
. . . The Lord graciously opened my eyes and saved me from the love of worldliness that was taking over me. He brought me to a place in my life of realization and truth! He reshaped my desires for my life and showed me that my body is a temple and was created to be honoring to Him in all things, especially in my marriage and in being an example to younger girls! I decided to make some changes in the path that I was headed down. I vowed to never pose for a men's magazine again. I decided not to be seen in lingerie by any man but my husband. I decided to stop trying to become a sex symbol and to pursue being a wholesome, Godly example! Everything I went through was for a bigger purpose. For HIS purpose. He used my sin to bring me to a better place. A place where I can now be an example to other in the way that I live and I am so thankful for that! My prayer is that the Lord will use everything I have done as a platform to help others through honoring Him and God willing change lives.
Kylie Bisutti's decision to pursue more modest modeling jobs is an inspirational example that change toward modesty can happen through God's influence in the lives of people, beginning at even at the highest levels in the fashion industry.
Update: Since this article was first published, Kylie Bisutti has continued to increase her standards of modesty. She is quoted in a September 2012 interview, "I’ve stepped away from a lot of modeling jobs, because even if you’re fully clothed, they still want you to portray some sort of selling of sex, because that’s what sells in our society. So even some jobs that I’ve done where I’m fully clothed, it’s just the poses and the facial expressions that they want – it’s all based around the selling of sex. So I haven’t really been focused on [modeling] as much." Read more news about Kylie from a September 2012 Fashion Belle forum post.