From Surrey gardener to one of the UK's first plus-size male models

Ben Whit

A gardener and personal trainer from Guildford in Surrey has become one of the UK's first plus-size male models.

Ben Whit, who's 6'1", has signed with London-based Bridge Models.

"Ben is a great example of a tall, broad man that is into health and fitness and struggles to find clothes that fit," the firm's co-owner Charlotte Griffiths tells Newsbeat.

"The fact he's a personal trainer is a bonus. We feel strongly about promoting healthy body image with our models."

Ben was the first of three, male plus-size models to be signed by Bridge Models

Charlotte says that she's heard the public speak "time and time again about the desire to see different shapes and sizes represented".

But she says that the rise of the plus-size model is just the start for an industry often criticised for its portrayal of body image.

"This feels like a progressive step towards representing a wider range of body shapes and sizes in this industry, both female and male," she says.

"There is still a long way to go to take things from specialist areas and token bookings to the 'norm' for the industry and society."

Ben says that the term plus-size doesn't simply refer to one body shape.

"I think that people jump straight to one conclusion when it comes to the phrase plus-size," says Ben, talking about the representation of larger bodies.

"But it means many things and for women in modelling it's about being curvier and for men, representing those that are broader.

Ben is a gardener, personal trainer and now one of the UK's first plus-size male models

"I'm really glad that companies are now catering for the larger man."

In March, New York model Zach Miko made headlines as the first plus-size male model to be signed to a major modelling agency, leading to global interest in plus-size male models.

"We were in the middle of a casting process when model Zach Miko was launched in the US and the positive response reinforced our decision that it was the right time to branch out," says Charlotte.

"We've since seen more clients come forward to expand into this area."

Ben is one of three plus-size models represented by Bridge Models, who are looking for a new face to front a campaign for Yours Clothing's Bad Rhino brand.

Find us on Instagram at BBCNewsbeat and follow us on Snapchat, search for bbc_newsbeat