Created By: SneakySquirrel on June 28, 2011 Last Edited By: SneakySquirrel on October 1, 2011
Troped

Weight Woe

Someone who has issues with their weight.

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In a world where being very skinny is the ideal and being overweight has Unfortunate Implications, many people are self-conscious about their weight.

These (usually female) characters are obsessed with dieting in order to reach the ideal; commenting on their figure is often a sensitive point for them. However, not all characters with Weight Woe are overweight; many are just Hollywood Pudgy, and some are even told in-verse that they don't need to diet at all.

Sometimes this is a one-episode affair, usually because someone brings their weight up or they want to impress their Love Interest; but just as often it is a character quirk. In the latter case, the character is usually a yoyo-dieter, or has too little will-power to keep it up so nothing about their figure changes.

When Played for Laughs, the dieter is a Big Eater or has a huge Sweet Tooth that constantly foils their dieting plans; when Played for Drama, the dieter is suffering from an eating disorder. The latter in particular may be used for a Very Special Episode.

In real life, eating disorders of any kind are never funny, and sufferers should seek immediate help. On top of the media dictating that one has to be Hollywood Thin in order to be attractive, eating disorders are commonly caused by the sufferer feeling like they have no control in their life, so obsessively controlling their eating habits and body shape becomes the solution. This is dangerous and can become fatal if left untreated.

In fiction, however, Very Special Episodes notwithstanding, Weight Woe is usually Played for Laughs, most likely because of its sensitive nature and prevailance in real life. The control aspect is often ignored, and the cause of Weight Woe is almost always solely to do with a character's physical appearance, whether the issue is genuine or percieved.

On the other side of Weight Woe, there are those who are naturally very thin and can't put on weight. They are often accused of having eating disorders and discriminated against by others, usually out of jealousy. This often leads them to become just as insecure as those who want to lose weight. However, this side of Weight Woe is rarely, if ever, presented in fiction.

Sometimes being over- or underweight is caused by a gland issue or some other medical condition. Sometimes people falsely claim to have such a problem to avoid bullying or teasing, and quite often those who do have something wrong are thought to be lying as well. In fiction, claiming that a medical condition caused a character to be overweight is almost always just an excuse, akin to I Am Big Boned.

A Sister Trope of Muscle Angst.

Compare Huge School Girl, a girl who is much taller and more developed than her peers and is insecure about it. Contrast Fat and Proud Big Beautiful Women / Big Beautiful Men, who are comfortable with their size and are usually portrayed as ideal because they are overweight.

Examples

Advertising
  • There was an ad for Weight Watchers (or some other diet system) that invoked/exploited this trope. A black & white shot of a pudgy woman staring at the camera, with moist eyes, as her Inner Monologue says "do you think I don't hear what you're saying behind my back?" etc.

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • Cathy defines this trope. (Ack!)

Literature
  • Maureen "Puddin'" in Robert A. Heinlein's short story Cliff and the Calories. She thinks her boyfriend would like her better if she were thinner, so she tries desperately to lose weight.
  • Bridget Jones, who obsesses in her diary about her weight. Her weakness is her love of alcohol.

Videogames

Western Animation
  • Patti Mayonnaise in an episode of Doug when she overhears Doug commenting on her weight (he was actually referring to a homemade vehicle he was making).
  • In one episode of Hey Arnold!, Harold becomes insecure about his size and strives to lose weight when he overhears Sid and Stinky mocking him. He goes on a cruise with the purpose of helping kids lose weight, but is even bigger when he returns. He manages to lose the extra weight with some help from Arnold, though.
  • Drawn Together has one episode where Toot Braunstein attempts to lose weight, both through bulemia and anorexia.
  • Lisa Simpson had an episode of this when some kids at school made fun of her weight.
    • Homer bounces around this. Sometimes he wants to be thinner, but at least once he had woe because he wanted to gain weight in order to qualify for a disability so he could worm from home.
  • Theodore and Eleanor from Alvin and the Chipmunks sometimes become self-conscious about their weight.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • June 28, 2011
    GinaInTheKingsRoad
    Cathy defines this. (Ack!)
  • June 29, 2011
    randomsurfer
    There was an ad for Weight Watchers (or some other diet system) that invoked/exploted this trope. A black & white shot of a pudgy woman staring at the camera, with moist eyes, as her Inner Voiceover says "do you think I don't hear what you're saying behind my back?" etc.
  • June 29, 2011
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Maureen "Puddin'" in Robert Heinlein's short story "Cliff and the Calories". She thinks her boyfriend would like her better if she were thinner, so she tries desperately to lose weight.
  • June 29, 2011
    peccantis
    ^^^ X Just X, please elaborate.
  • June 29, 2011
    pinkdalek
    Bridget Jones, who obsesses in her diary about her weight. Her weakness is her love of alcohol.
  • June 29, 2011
    tmarcl
    Drawn Together has one episode where Toot Braunstein attempts to lose weight, both through bulemia and anorexia.
  • June 30, 2011
    Aielyn
    Not a fan of the trope name. It sounds really weak. How about... Weight Woe Woman?
  • July 1, 2011
    SneakySquirrel
    Yeah, sorry; that's just the only way I'd heard it referred to before. Your one sounds much better; could just shorten it to Weight Woe, since this isn't necessarily an Always Female trope, or would that feel like less of a characterisation trope?
  • July 5, 2011
    X2X
    This sounds like it could be a Sister Trope to Muscle Angst.
  • July 5, 2011
    ElleWednesday
    This is troubling me a bit. There's hardly any serious examples listed, so it kind of comes across as "Eating Disorders Played For Laughs", which is fine and quite possibly common enough to warrant a page, except we don't have a page for eating disorders played seriously. Someone suggested one a while back, but it was discarded for "being too much of a wikipedia/useful notes type article", which I don't really think is correct, especially since we have a trope page for Self Harm that works much the same way as the old proposal.

    I think that this trope is fine, but we either need to include more info on eating disorders and serious portrayals fo them, create another page for serious portrayals, or at least have a useful notes page. It's a senstive topic for some people, so I'm not sure which would be best.
  • September 20, 2011
    SneakySquirrel
    Whoa, I forgot about this o.o;

    Hmm... You make a great point, Elle Wednesday; I'd have included serious examples, but most of the examples I know of are Played For Laughs, although some of the Western Animation examples are serious for a Very Special Episode. I can't think of any examples of a character with a serious eating disorder where it doesn't last for more than one episode, probably because of the sensitive nature of it.

    Of course in real life this is always a very serious issue; I'm not sure if that should be added to the article or if it's too obvious.

    I just saw a recurring quirk in characters to obsess over their weight, and thought perhaps it should have a trope page. Sorry I didn't take the more delicate aspects of it into consideration... I'm not sure what the best way to go about it is now.
  • September 21, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: Homer bounces around this. Sometimes he wants to be thinner, but at least once he had woe because he wanted to gain weight in order to qualify for disability so he could work from home.

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