Just months after modeling agency IMG launched a “brawn” division, the UK has their own plus-size male model.
Ben Whittaker from Surrey, also known as Ben Whit, is a 24-year-old who has signed with Bridge Models to be Britain’s first model under the brawn division.
According to the Guardian, Whit’s career started off as a joke. He used to brag to his girlfriend that he had a model look, so she decided to book him on a professional photo shoot for him to try it. Her joke to silence him actually backfired because after his photo shoot, he saw that Bridge Models was searching for XXL male models. He used his new photos to apply and he was chosen. At 6 foot 1 inch, with a beard and tattoos and 38-inch waist, the former bodybuilder was signed onto the agency.
One of his first jobs was for Bad Rhino, a clothing brand for big and tall men. This brand also works with US-based model Zach Miko. Whit has found success in Germany, and he’s also done TV appearances in the UK. He has spoken of having a hard time booking jobs with the more well-known UK brands because those brands just don’t carry sizes for bigger and taller men.
He explained it to The Guardian, saying, “A lot of high-street companies don’t sell big enough sizes. I’d have to buy clothes online and hope they would fit, and at the start of summer I’d buy large shorts quickly before the few pairs available had sold out. It was frustrating.”
Whit says it is not just women models who feel the pressure to fit into a certain mold. “There is pressure to look a certain way,” he said. “You see slim men on television and in fitness magazines. People want to get that look, but they’re just not built that way. I’ve seen young men in the gym putting their body through a lot of stress, and it’s just not worth it.”
When he’s not on modeling gigs, he works as a landscaper and a personal trainer. He also wants to correct the misconception that plus-size is interchangeable with overweight. That is wrong, he says. He added, “For a man, it’s broad shoulders and a big chest. For a woman, it just means they’ve got curves. People need to realize this.”