The Stories of 6 Famous Plus Size Models

It’s always fascinating to learn how the most famous models were discovered, and these top plus-size models are no exception. From online model scouting sites to modeling conventions, here’s how some of your favorite plus-size models were discovered.

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Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham on the runway for Addition Elle.

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This plus-size superstar was just 12 years old when she was discovered at a model and talent convention. She signed her first modeling contract with a local agency, then made the big move over to mega-agency Ford Models three years later. Since then, Ashley has done everything from editorial and runway modeling to TV commercials and movies. What really put the national spotlight on Ashley was when she became the first plus-size model ever to rock a bikini on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in 2016.

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Tara Lynn

Tara Lynn posing with other plus size models on the red carpet.

Gustavo Caballero / Getty Images

Growing up as a size 14/16, Tara Lynn had always been self-conscious of her size. It wasn’t until college that she finally came to accept her body. Then one day, bursting with confidence, she mustered up the courage to walk into a small modeling agency in Seattle, and they signed her on the spot. She's appeared on the cover of Glamour magazine and models for H&M.

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Robyn Lawley

Robyn Lawley smiling at a red carpet event.

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As a teenager, Robyn had a tough time finding work as a plus-size model in Australia. She went to casting after casting call but was sent home every time because she didn’t fit into the tiny sample clothes.

Even after trying every diet in the book, her body simply wasn’t able to achieve the look required by mainstream modeling. It wasn’t until she gave up calorie counting that her career finally took off. She found an agent, Chelsea Bonner from Bella Model Management, who gave her a fresh perspective on modeling telling her she’s perfect just the way she is. Robyn then moved to New York and pushed through rejection after rejection until she landed the covers of Italian Vogue and French Elle.

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Marquita Pring

Model Marquita Pring attends as Lane Bryant celebrates the launch of their campaign #ImNoAngel on April 6, 2015 in New York City

Cindy Ord / Getty Images

Marquita had always been told she had a beautiful face, so around the age of 15, she decided to give modeling a try. She attended a casting call in Canada and met with dozens of agencies. Most told her she needed to lose weight. However, a few loved her look and asked her to do a test photoshoot to make sure she was comfortable in front of the camera. She was, and when she brought her photos to a small Canadian agency they signed her on the spot.

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Sophie Dahl

Sophie Dahl Hosts Boodles Cocktails With Friends

David M. Benett / Getty Images

Sophie Dahl’s story is somewhat of a legend in the modeling industry. She was discovered by acclaimed Vogue stylist Isabella Blow when Blow found her sobbing in the street after a fight with her mother. Blow introduced her to Sarah Doukas—a top model scout and the founder of Storm Models. Sarah signed her immediately and it wasn’t long before Sophie appeared in German Vogue (photographed by Karl Lagerfeld), Italian VogueVisionaire, and Vanity Fair.

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Tess Holliday

Tess Holliday posing at a red carpet event.

Craig Barritt / Getty Images

Tess Holliday, also known as Tess Munster, first tried to break into the industry at the tender age of 15. After being told she was “too short and too big” to be a model, she set her dreams aside and started a family.

After moving to Los Angeles at age 24, she uploaded some pictures to an online modeling site. A casting agent found her page, loved her look, and shortly after that, the Arts & Entertainment network asked her to be the face of their hit show, “Heavy.” Tess appeared in national advertisements and billboards and her modeling career took off from there. Tess has been named one of the top plus-size models in the world by Vogue Italia and became the largest plus-size model to be signed to a mainstream modeling agency, Milk Model Management.