Plus size models were first represented by model agencies in the 1970s. Prior to this, models freelanced directly with retailers, designers and magazines. Former plus-size model Mary Duffy owned Big Beauties Little Women, the first agency specializing in plus-size and petite models in 1977. Pat Swift, a plus-size model at the time, founded Plus Models in 1978. Ford Models began representing plus size models in 1978, and added two models to their board, including top model Ann Harper, due to demand from clients. By the late 1980s, Plus Models was the largest and most successful plus-size specialty agency, representing over 65 models and grossing over 2 million dollars in revenue. By 1984, Big Beauties Little Women was successful enough to run national model searches advertised in the press. The prize included the cover of It's Me magazine, a nationally published magazine for plus-size women. Not long after, Plus Models began holding national model searches. By the mid-1980s, top plus size models could earn as much as 150,000 to 200,000 dollars a year. Ford Models bought Big Beauties Little Women in 1988, later renaming the division Special Sizes and then Ford 12+.
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