Created By: peccantis on April 24, 2012 Last Edited By: peccantis on April 25, 2012

What Measure Is A Fat Woman

In fiction, a fat female cannot exist outside a few set stereotypes.

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Rough draft, all help appreciated

(Especially help with making this sound less like a rant.)

Indices: Double Standard, High Fat Index (more?)

In mainstream media, an overweight female character is a rare thing. Being Hollywood Pudgy has little effect besides the comments from herself or those around her, but once she develops a proper gut she is diminished into a stereotype. Not only that, but even in the background, overweight females are a rarity.

Notably, visibly chubby or even rotund male characters are pretty frequently seen, even in recurring or main roles that don't revolve around their weight, making this a Double Standard.

Characterisation of overweight females:
  • no sexuality: she cannot want or be wanted outside the roles of Chased Chubby or Abhorrent Admirer
  • negative body image: she must have Weight Woes or at least think herself ugly
  • faulty character: "obviously" she's fundamentally lacking in virtues, otherwise she wouldn't be fat

Set roles of overweight females:
  • Abhorrent Admirer
  • Brawn Hilda: unattractively strong and masculine (often big) woman
  • Fat Girl: insecure, unimportant or both. Often a source of comic relief.
  • Grande Dame: (often large) uptight, butt-of-jokes mature lady of status
  • Mammy: big black auntie type of slave (or domestic help in post-slavery settings)

Averted when a Big Beautiful Woman has more to her than being Ms. Fanservice.

(I want to put Very Special Episode somewhere...)

This is a Trope In Aggregate and should not have straight examples.

Anyone know how Shallow Hal and Hair Spray play their fat cards?
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • April 24, 2012
    Alice in The Tribe was a Brawn Hilda /Boisterous Bruiser who could handle herself in a fight, and generally went toe-to-toe with bully character Lex (who she developed an unreciprocated crush on). While not unfeminine, she was definitely a tomboy-type character. Not a straight example though because during the arc that focused on her trying to woo Lex, the show actually portrayed her sympathetically and treated the relationship material mostly seriously, in the sense that Alice was a real girl with real feelings, rather than the "silly, stereotypical fat girl who unselfconsciously and comically lusts after Mr Fanservice."
  • April 24, 2012
    Pretty much every fat woman ever shown in Family Guy.
  • April 24, 2012
    Might I suggest that this Needs A Better Title? We have a LOT of "What Measure Is A..." tropes, not quite as many as the "Badass" epidemic, but still. It's not like the phrase is being misused, but it is becoming rather meme-like/snowcloneish. Just suggesting we break things up a little bit and give this trope a cool name of its own like it deserves.
  • April 24, 2012
    on the website there's a topless picture of an actress protesting. Her story: she went to an agent and without looking at her resume or headshot, he told her that she needed to either lose 20 lbs or gain 30. She's too fat for an ingenue character and too thin for a Fat Best Friend.
  • April 25, 2012
    ^^^ you mean Family Guy follows this? Or averts it?

    ^^ Sure, suggestions are welcome. I had trouble communicating the idea in a few words outside the snowclone pattern.
  • April 25, 2012
    Good to see that youre panning on excluding straight examples. But how about making it an exampleless index then?
  • April 25, 2012
    ^Exampleless indexes attract issues with the indexed tropes, I've heard.
  • April 25, 2012
    • Fortunately Played With on Californication with Charlie's second boss. She's pretty masculine, crass, and large--but also a cut-throat agent, and shrewd businesswoman. That, and she's unapologetic about her promiscuity (which is at least as destructive/hilarious as the rest of the cast, which is on par for the show).
  • April 25, 2012
    This trope is Older Than They Think; there's a Jane Austen book, (possibly Persuasion?) where the narrator, with her usual sarcastic bitchiness, says something like the weeping, genuinely distressed fat woman present is difficult to sympathise with because her fatness makes it too comical an image to take seriously.
  • April 25, 2012
    • Ursula from The Little Mermaid is a subversion. She's big and fat and behaves like Grande Dame but with knowing sexuality.
      • and in her song, there's a straight example of a fat mermaid wanting to be thin.
    • Also true of that English woman from Britain's Got Talent. Everybody was shocked when she did the little hipshimmy because she was a fat, middle aged woman of plain looks.
    • There was a woman neighbor, who took care of the Chipettes in The Eighties Alvin And The Chipmunks who was Cosmetic Horror at home, but the Grande Dame sexpot type in public.