The Times UK recently caught up with Gary Dakin, who runs the plus-size division of Ford Models. He represents Crystal Renn (he even walked her down the aisle at her wedding) and Tara Lynn, among others, and is responsible for their multiple spreads in mainstream fashion magazines--most notably Renn's editorial in V Magazine and Lynn baring all in French Elle.
"A lot of people in the industry didn't like these kinds of images," told The Times about V's plus-size spread. "A lot. They said the girls looked cataloguey, or fat. This is bullshit. These girls look amazing."
He added, "We're not out there saying these are role models --we're selling clothes. If you don't want your daughter to look at these images then that's up to you. Whether you're straight size or plus size. Raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child and focus on your own part in that. Don't let the modeling industry do it for you."
Dakin saw a shift in model casting last year:
"It's been a struggle, for a long time," he tells me. "Not so long ago people were dismissive. Nobody wanted to shoot the bigger girls. Nobody wanted to give it a go. This year has been the culmination of about ten years of not saying no." Plus-size models were treated like provincial town football players who knock a ball about on Saturdays, especially since the early Nineties and the emergence of size 0 models. "I wouldn't even tell people what division I was from. I'd call up the client and say, 'I'm sending you this great girl!' and when they'd seen her they would ring back. 'But she's plump! Why didn't you tell us?'"
He believes that high-end brands will eventually start using bigger models, because regular-sized women (like Michelle Obama, he said) still want fashionable clothes.
So what inspired Dakin to promote plus-size beauty?
"I'm a gay man. I've known I was gay since I was 8. I always think of that horrible, horrible joke: 'God made gay men so heavy girls had someone to dance with at the school prom.'" He laughs and puts his head in his hands, momentarily embarrassed. "It's the underdog mentality. As a gay man I felt I understood what these girls had been through in the industry.