Created By: TyeDyeWildebeest on June 16, 2013 Last Edited By: TyeDyeWildebeest on June 24, 2013
Troped

Chubby Mama, Skinny Papa

A couple that consists of a slender man and a well fed lady.

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Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean,
And so between the two of them, they licked the platter clean.
- "Jack Sprat", an English nursery rhyme

Frequently, when a couple is introduced, you'll notice a considerable difference in their figures. The man will often be slender or trim; scrawny, even; while the woman is more likely to, well, have a little more to love.

This trope can be implemented for a variety of different reasons. In some cases, it could be to allow the wife to have a more imposing presence, while making her husband appear more demure and submissive in comparison. By the same token, an artist may purposely draw the wife with soft, rounded features in order to convey warmth and hospitality, rather than dominance (the husband, by contrast, will have sharper, more angular features). Note that the couples who fit this trope do not necessarily have to be parents, but the wives and husbands who do will typically have traditional maternal and paternal traits, respectively.

While most inversions of this trope fall under Ugly Guy, Hot Wife (since we tend to see fatness as unattractive), the trope itself is not generally used to make the wife look ugly.

May overlap with Tiny Guy, Huge Girl (though that usually refers to a different kind of 'hugeness').


Examples

Advertising
  • This Slim Quick weight loss product commercial shows an animation of how an equally-overweight couple went on some weight-loss program, with the woman dropping one size while the man dropped six sizes (and his pants). The Slim Quick product is billed as "weight loss for women" (apparently accounting for common differences in metabolism between the sexes).

Film
  • The Master of Disguise has Pistachio's parents, Fabbrizio and Mama Canoli. In this case, Mama Canoli's girth is used to convey motherly love, particularly a fixation with feeding her son. In fact, just before she gets kidnapped, we see her making a canoli for Pistachio.
  • Old Man Nebbercracker, who lives in the Monster House, is lean and wrinkly, befitting a man his age. His wife, Constance, however, was so corpulent that she used to be kept in a cage on display as a circus freak.The ongoing torment and ridicule by the circus patrons has made Constance viciously antisocial. Nebbercracker's cantankerousness is his way of shielding the neighborhood children from his wife's murderous malevolence.
  • Norbit provides a rather extreme example, though the difference in girth between the titular protagonist and his wife, Rasputia, is mostly Played for Laughs.

Literature
  • Lady Sybil Vimes from Discworld is described as being much larger than her husband, Sam. While the other characters tend to be intimidated by her imposing presence, the book describes her as kind hearted and compassionate. She also abides by most traditional maternal roles, though she does so out of duty and obligation, rather than necessity.
  • Molly was frequently described as a short, plump, kindly-looking woman, whom Harry Potter was shocked to see that she could so easily look "like a sabre-tooth tiger" when she was angry with her sons. She was also described as "porky," by Draco Malfoy, in the course of his typical taunts about the Weasley family, and "dumpy" by Vernon Dursley, despite the fact that he and his son were much larger than the slightly plump Molly. Her husband Arthur Weasley possessed the tall, thin build inherited by his sons Ron and Bill. Arthur was less strict than his wife, and his children thought he was funny.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire provides a rare example of this trope being invoked. When Lord Roose Bolton was given his pick of women to marry from the House Frey, he was offered his bride's weight in silver for her dowry. Upon hearing this, Roose purposely chose Walda, the fattest one.

Live Action TV
  • This phenomenon is referenced in Andy Richter Controls The Universe as part of the reason Byron gives for hating racists: all their women are fat and their men are all skinny.
  • The That 70s Show episode "The Crunge" had a flash-forward of Hyde and Jackie in married life, where Hyde has a bit of a beer paunch (but isn't that big relatively speaking) but former cheerleader Jackie has really let herself go and is quite a bit bigger than Hyde. You Tube clip here.

Musical Theater
  • In most productions of Hairspray (as well as in the original John Waters film), Tracy's parents, Edna and Wilbur Turnblad, are cast to fit this trope. This is partially done to visually establish a bond between Edna and Tracy. Part of the reason why Edna is initially reluctant to let Tracy audition for Corny Collins is her fear that Tracy will be ostracized because of her weight (and she, as a plus- sized woman herself, should know exactly what it's like). Wilbur, on the other hand, plays a relatively minimal role in the plot, so directors usually have no problem casting him as a smaller, more slender man.

Newspaper Comics
  • Snuffy Smith is a lean and mean li'l runt, while his wife Loweezy has let her girlish figure go south. Loweezy does almost all the work around the homestead, thus she has the build of a bull ox. Snuffy spends most of his waking hours brewing moonshine, stealing chickens, and cheating at cards. His lean figure is partly due to meager jailhouse grub.

Video Games
  • Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has Luv and Bertie, the couple that runs the potion shop. From their dialogue, it is evident that Luv is the dominant one in the relationship, while Bertie is a shy, ineffectual Henpecked Husband. He also seems to be primarily responsible for looking after their infant child.

Western Animation
  • The Cleveland Show has Lester and Kendra Krinklesac. While Lester has a rather weedy physique, Kendra's years of compulsive eating have rendered her so morbidly obese that she needs a Rascal scooter to get around. Due to her debilitating obesity, Lester has to take up the responsibility of being the primary breadwinner and caretaker of the household.
  • Muriel and Eustace from Courage the Cowardly Dog fall into this. In this case, the contrast is definitely used to convey softness and roughness, respectively; the plump- figured Muriel is defined by her warmth and motherly instinct, while the stick- like Eustace is a hot tempered curmudgeon who only smiles when he wants to laugh at someone else's pain.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the couple that runs Sugarcube Corner, Mr. and Mrs. Cake. Mrs. Cake isn't exactly large, but she's considerably more pudgy than her husband. From their few appearances in the show, we can tell that both of the Cakes tend to be even tempered and sweet, but Mrs. Cake in particular is defined by her affectionate nature, addressing nearly everyone she knows as 'Dearie'.
  • In South Park, Kyle's parents, Gerald and Sheila Broflovski, definitely qualify as this. In earlier seasons, Sheila's size was used to convey dominance and aggression (earning her the 'Big Fat Bitch' moniker), but as the series went on, that aspect of her character seemed to fade away. She's still quite protective of Kyle, but her Mama Bear tendencies have been downplayed considerably. After The Movie, the writers made a special effort to show her warmer, more affectionate side. Gerald, on the other hand, has consistently been portrayed as a bit of a Jerk Ass (though no more so than most of the other South Park residents.
  • The 1936 Van Beuren Studios cartoon "Toonerville Trolley" has the lean and wily old goat The Skipper operate the trolley, while his hefty emigre wife keeps house. However, whenever some hazard impedes the trolley's progress, either The Skipper's ingenuity or his wife's magnificent muscles remedies the situation. This cartoon typifies an Acceptable Ethnic Target of the time that women from East Europe / White Russia were fat, ugly and manly strong.


Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • June 16, 2013
    Tallens
  • June 16, 2013
    surgoshan
    Nursery Rhyme
    • Jack Sprat could eat no fat/ his wife could eat no lean/ and so between the two of them/ they licked the whole plate clean.
  • June 16, 2013
    JonnyB
    Muriel and Eustace of Courage The Cowardly Dog.
  • June 16, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Newspaper Comics
    • Snuffy Smith is a lean and mean li'l runt, while his wife Loweezy has let her girlish figure go south.
  • June 16, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Old Man Nebbercracker, who lives in the Monster House, is lean and wrinkly, befitting a man his age. His wife, Constance, however, is so corpulent that she used to be kept in a cage on display as a circus freak.
  • June 17, 2013
    Halen
    So what makes a couple count? Does the woman have to be overweight, or can she be a woman with Hartman Hips yet otherwise not be that large?
  • June 17, 2013
    JonnyB
    Not always "parents"; description needs a bit of work.
  • June 17, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    ^^ Contrast is really what's important here. There has to be a conspicuous difference in girth/ figure between the husband and the wife. That being said, I don't think women with Hartman Hips or Curves In All The Right Places would qualify; she has to have some physical traits that are indicative of her being... well fed (chubby cheeks, pronounced bellies, etc). Not necessarily obese, but noticeably plump.

    ^ Noted. Any other tips/ suggested edits would be appreciated.
  • June 18, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • June 19, 2013
    lexicon
    It looks like every example is a Zero Context Example. Each one needs some context to say how it applies before this is launchable.
  • June 19, 2013
    JonnyB
    ^ In this case, I don't think that's really necessary. Since the trope is about large women and skinny men, in mentioning a man and woman pair together and saying they fit the trope one would naturally assume the man is skinny and the woman fat. I don't really think anyone needs to put "because she is fat and he is skinny" on every single example; that would just be a Captain Obvious-level of silly, not to mention ridiculously redundant.
  • June 20, 2013
    lexicon
    As the "Projects: Long Term/Perpetual: Fixing zero context examples" page says, Zero Context Example entries are not allowed on wiki pages. In this case the description makes it clear that it's more than physical so the question is, what is being conveyed? For example:

    • Molly was frequently described as a short, plump, kindly-looking woman, whom Harry Potter was shocked to see that she could so easily look "like a sabre-tooth tiger" when she was angry with her sons. She was also described as "porky," by Draco Malfoy, in the course of his typical taunts about the Weasley family, and "dumpy" by Vernon Dursley, despite the fact that he and his son were much larger than the slightly plump Molly. Her husband Arthur Weasley possessed the tall, thin build inherited by his sons Ron and Bill. Arthur was less strict than his wife, and his children thought he was funny.
  • June 20, 2013
    peccantis
    For the record, Mrs. Cake is easily plumpier than any other pony in the series as far as I've seen (I'm somewhere in the middle of season 2 though).
  • June 20, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    ^^^ Yeah, that's what I thought too.

    ^^ Understood. That's actually a fantastic example; I hope you don't mind if I use it.

    I'll have to apologize, as I've been absent from TV Tropes for a while so I guess I didn't get the memo on Zero Context Examples being banned. Still, the examples I should have included more detail in most of my examples anyway, so I'll get to work on that right away.
  • June 20, 2013
    kiukiuclk
    This seems to be inverted alot also( fat man, skinny wife: Frex: Homer and Marge Simpson ). It might make sense to just generalize to something like Mismatched Couple, for when there is a significant(and usually comedic) difference in a pairing.
  • June 20, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    ^ But then, wouldn't most of the inverted examples fall under Ugly Guy Hot Wife (since our society sees fatness as unattractive)?
  • June 20, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Picky, picky, picky. Fine, I'll expound upon my examples.

    Newspaper Comics
    • Snuffy Smith is a lean and mean li'l runt, while his wife Loweezy has let her girlish figure go south. Loweezy does almost all the work around the homestead, thus she has the build of a bull ox. Snuffy spends most of his waking hours brewing moonshine, stealing chickens, and cheating at cards. His lean figure is partly due to meager jailhouse grub.

    Western Animation
    • Old Man Nebbercracker, who lives in the Monster House, is lean and wrinkly, befitting a man his age. His wife, Constance, however, is so corpulent that she used to be kept in a cage on display as a circus freak. The ongoing torment and ridicule by the circus patrons has made Constance viciously antisocial. Nebbercracker's cantankerousness is his way of shielding the neighborhood children from his wife's murderous malevolence.

    And, adding another one:

    Western Animation
    • The 1936 Van Beuren Studios cartoon "Toonerville Trolley" has the lean and wily old goat The Skipper operate the trolley, while his hefty emigre wife keeps house. However, whenever some hazard impedes the trolley's progress, either The Skipper's ingenuity or his wife's magnificent muscles remedies the situation. This cartoon typifies an Acceptable Ethnic Target of the time that women from East Europe / White Russia were fat, ugly and manly strong.
  • June 20, 2013
    jatay3
    Gregor and Laisa in Vorkosigan Saga.
  • June 20, 2013
    lexicon
    The Harry Potter link was lost when it was added.

    I would say in the description that the inversion, fat man and skinny wife, generally makes it Ugly Guy Hot Wife, but when the wife is chubby it's generally not used to make her ugly.
  • June 21, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    ^ Fixed, and done.

    Is there anything else you would add? You've been really helpful so far.
  • June 21, 2013
    lexicon
    I'm not sure about the title. It makes it sound like these are only parents, not any married couple, but using the word 'mama' does make her sounds maternal and that's ofter what is being conveyed. Maybe there should be a note saying that they don't have to be parents but this is often done to make them look parental.
  • June 21, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    Aaand done.

    @jatay3:I'm not familiar with that work. Would you mind giving a bit more detail about how Gregor and Laisa are portrayed?
  • June 21, 2013
    Chabal2
    The couple who run the potion shop in Skyward Sword.
  • June 22, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    ^ Again, I can't accept Zero Context Examples. Please include a little more detail.

    EDIT: Never mind... I looked them up and got a pretty clear picture of what their relationship was like.
  • June 22, 2013
    Alega5
    • The Cleveland Show own Lester and Kendra Krinklesac. With Kendra being so large she needs a scooter to move around.
  • June 23, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    Might count:

    Live-Action TV

    The That 70s Show episode "The Crunge" had a flash-forward of Hyde and Jackie in married life, where Hyde has a bit of a beer paunch (but isn't that big relatively speaking) but former cheerleader Jackie has really let herself go and is quite a bit bigger than Hyde. You Tube clip here.
  • June 23, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    Advertising

    This Slim Quick weight loss product commercial shows an animation of how an equally-overweight couple went on some weight-loss program, with the woman dropping one size while the man dropped six sizes (and his pants). The Slim Quick product is billed as "weight loss for women" (apparently accounting for common differences in metabolism between the sexes).
  • June 23, 2013
    HiddenFacedMatt
    Current title implies that they have children. I don't think this needs to be limited to married couples or to couples with children.
  • June 23, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    ^ So would you say that Skinny Guy Chubby Girl would be a more fitting title?
  • June 23, 2013
    lexicon
    The title should imply that there's a relationship between them. Skinny Guy Chubby Girl does not. Are any of the examples not parents or married? The description sounds like she's likely a Mama Bear or domestic, both of which are maternal. This shouldn't lose it's meaning and become People Sit On Chairs.
  • June 23, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    Would you suggest reverting back to the old title, or is there a new one that you'd suggest?
  • June 23, 2013
    lexicon
    Your original title, Chubby Mama Skinny Papa, sounds good to me.
  • June 24, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    Cool.

    Before I try to launch this page, is there anything else that anyone would add/ change?
  • June 24, 2013
    Buraindo
    I think you're good to go. Added a hat.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xts1ppimhr0h87fhtglptp8p&trope=ChubbyMamaSkinnyPapa