Changing The Shape Of Models

Ben Barry didn’t understand why a fellow freshman at his Ottawa high school was having difficulty finding a modeling job. Barry’s friend was pretty, photogenic, and was also a size eight.

“She was told that she needed to go down to a size two or at least a four, I looked at her portfolio, and it was fantastic. So I took her pictures and sent them to a local magazine. I sent them a letter that said I thought she would be perfect for them.” Barry, then 14 years old, received a call from the editor of the magazine a few weeks later. His model would be ideal for their back-to-school fashion shoot. And naturally he was her agent, yes?

He created the Ben Barry Agency, Inc. in his family’s basement. Today, the company represents hundreds of women of all sizes, colors, and ages to companies and fashion designers. Dove soap came to Barry when it sought some of the models for its blockbuster ad concept, “Campaign for Real Beauty,” which featured women of all body types and ages, photographed in all their curvy glory. He’s written a best-selling book, even appeared on “Oprah.” Now, Barry’s conducting research at Harvard he thinks could reshape the modeling industry and the way that companies market products to female consumers around the world.

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