Four months after the U.S. modeling agency IMG launched a “Brawn” board to represent larger-than-average men, the U.K. has found a plus-size male model of its very own. Surrey native Ben Whittaker (aka Ben Whit), 24, was signed to the London-based Bridge Models agency in March as Britain’s first brawn model.
If Zach Miko is Cindy Crawford, then Whit is Kate Moss.
According to the Guardian, Whit’s modeling career actually started out as a joke. His girlfriend got tired of him constantly bragging about his model-good looks, so she gifted him a professional photo shoot to get it out of his system (and shut him up).
Lo and behold, the timing was perfect: Whit read that Bridge Models was searching for an XXL male model to add to its roster, so he used his new photos to apply. It worked — and the bearded and tattooed, 6-foot-1 former bodybuilder with the 38-inch waist was officially signed as a model.
One of Whit’s first paying gigs was for Bad Rhino, a clothing brand that caters to big and tall men (it also works with Miko; clearly its taste is fantastic). He’s also found success as a model in Germany and has made several TV appearances in the U.K. He admits, though, that he’s had a difficult time scoring jobs for more widely known British brands, as they simply don’t carry clothes for guys who don’t fit into the standard sizes.
“A lot of high street companies don’t sell big enough sizes,” he told the Guardian. “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.”
He also admits that it’s not just women who feel the pressure to fit a certain physical mold. “There is pressure to look a certain way,” he says. “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.”
That’s not to say that Whit himself is a stranger to the gym: When he isn’t modeling, he works as a landscaper and a personal trainer. “A lot of people have this misconception that plus-size means overweight — that’s wrong,” he says. “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.”
Amen, you bearded, babe-tastic bloke, you. Amen.