A character that used to be fat, but now isn't.
Sometimes, part of a character's personality is driven by the fact that they were once overweight. Having a thin character revealed to have once been fat can tell you plenty about them; it can tell you that they had a past they aren't proud of and cares enough about their health and appearance to do something about it. It also shows that the character has the strength and will power to take control of their life and get what they want, that they have the ability to self-discipline and self-motivate.
Be that as it may, a formerly fat background is not always all sunshine and rainbows. It can also imply a lot of self loathing and damaged self esteem, too. Many times, their slim down can be a symptom of a desperate need to be accepted by society and an unhealthy dependence on what others think of them. The two attitudes are not mutually exclusive either, leading to many Formerly Fat individuals to have complicated self-images.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
Fatman's teenaged little sister in the Ratman manga is conventionally slender now, thanks to years of dieting. She does not like it when her big brother shows people pictures of her as a chubby child. (Fatman is the "jolly" type who doesn't understand why she's so ashamed of her past.)
Overweight Reika from Ginga E Kickoff is accepted in a soccer team mainly because they need one more player to be legal for an upcoming tournament. She eventually becomes more fit.
Shintani Hinata from Maid Sama was this when he was a kid and was bullied because of that. His feelings for Misaki stems from her protecting him from these bullies and he moved to his grandparents' in the country and he slims down by eating their vegetables.
Otohime Ryugu in Ookami-san was called "turtle girl" in her youth due to her chubbiness until Taro encouraged her to slim down.
In Fairy Tail, Reedus Jonah after the time skip (and likely before Makarov expanded his belly to aid in his magic) is quite slender. In contrast, Droy gets much fatter.
Alvida in One Piece. Sometime between losing to Luffy and joining Buggy's crew, she ate the Slip-Slip Fruit and slimmed down considerably.
In Get Smart, during the flight to Russia, Smart proudly shows an old picture of himself to Agent 99, wherein he weighs much, much more than he does at the time. In fact, when speaking to the Chief, earlier we see a Flashback Cut wherein he exercises rigorously so he can have the proper shape to be a CONTROL employee. In return for Smart showing his photo, 99 produces a photo showing her Magic Plastic Surgery.
In Drag Me to Hell, Christine was an overweight, poor country girl in her youth. She's dropped the weight, lost her accent, and is dedicated to climbing the social ladder. Her boyfriend is from an elite, wealthy family that still makes her feel inadequate. This is what motivates her to jockey for a promotion by refusing the gypsy woman's loan extension.
Han Solo Berger (Andy Samberg) in That's My Boy. He still has to take insulin to treat his diabetes though (since his dad let him eat cake and lollipops for breakfast as a kid).
Ira in Funny People has recently dropped a lot of weight. His roommates mention it a few times and say he's less funny and looks weird because of it. This is some Reality Subtext, as Seth Rogen had lost weight to play The Green Hornet.
Ben Stiller's character in Dodgeball:A True Underdog Story.
Ben Hanscom of Stephen King's IT was fat as a kid, but ended up slimming down as an adult by the time that he and the Loser's Club meet up again to battle It.
Robin Wilson of Sweet Valley High, always referred to as "formerly fat Robin" in the livejournal snark community 1bruce1.
Fat Charlie Nancy of Anansi Boys, who was fat for just long enough to acquire the nickname. It stuck.
Marcy Lewis is the protagonist of There's a Bat in Bunk Five, by Paula Danziger. It's the sequel to The Cat Ate My Gymsuit. In the first novel, Marcy is overweight (and hates gym) but she slims down and finds a boyfriend in the second novel.
Monica from Friends was definitely this. In "The One with the Rumor", she invites her old high-school friend, Will for Thanksgiving, who used to be so fat that Monica was his "thin friend". In present day, he's played by Brad Pitt.
Monica's reason for wanting to lose weight was because at one Thanksgiving with her family, Chandler wound up calling her fat to Ross behind her back and she overheard it. This hurt her because she not only had a crush on Chandler, but hearing someone she liked make fun of her weight broke her heart. She decided to start maintaining her diet in order to slim down and make Chandler jealous that he could have had her. It was working until Monica accidentally dropped a knife on Chandler's toe and it couldn't be saved. Cut to present day Chandler now upset that he lost a toe because he called Monica fat.
Actually turns into a heartwarming moment, as years later, having got over the respective insults and toe-cutting, Monica and Chandler are best friends and later Happily Married. When Monica worries that Chandler will leave her if she gets fat again, Chandler says he loves her for who she is and how she looks will never change that.
Chandler: "You're Monica. And I'm in love with Monica. So you can balloon up or shrink down...and I will still love you.
An episode of Law and Order SVU dealt with a girl who was sodomized and beaten. When they found the motive behind the attack, it turned out she herself had attacked and beaten an obese man (her own attackers being relatives of his taking revenge). She took part in victimizing the man because of her own self loathing and anger at herself for having once been like him.
On Maury one of the frequent themes is "I used to be [fat / a geek / etc.] but look at me now!" where they bring in people who used to tease the person in grade school, to show off to them.
A patient on House, who was formerly morbidly obese and had become a highly successful personal trainer. It turned out that she had had gastric bypass surgery, rather than "losing it the old fashioned way." It also turned out that her weight was a result of her self-medicating her genetic disorder with fatty foods. Reversing the surgery and returning to her old lifestyle would have cured her, but she opts for a lifetime of medication instead.
Something similar happened on an episode of Drop Dead Diva. Jane represents a girl whose family are suing a diet guru; the diet consists of a very unhealthy low-calorie plan. Jane exposes the guru as having had gastric bypass surgery, so there was no way she could have lost weight on her own plan.
Surprisingly, Quinn Fabray from Glee. It's part of the reason she's so obsessed with "perfection" - once she entered high school, she changed nearly everything about her appearance and strived to keep it that way.
On Boy Meets World, Jack Hunter is revealed to have been fat in high school, to the point that people called him "Jumbo Jack". He explains that this is why he goes to the gym so much and is obsessed with his looks.
The main antagonist from the 5th season of Dexter was overweight as a child.
The Palace had the attractive and thin Alice Templeton, better known to her childhood friends as "Fatty".
J Pod had Kaitlin Joyce: she even starred in a TV commercial promoting the "miracle diet" that helped her out. It shated more than a few traits with the Subway ads.
Mary from 3rd Rock from the Sun was fat as a kid, and has a lot of issues with her parents about it to boot.
Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock. In this case, it's a Mythology Gag—although the Sherlock incarnation is played by the normally-built Mark Gatiss, Mycroft was morbidly obese in the original stories, and Sherlock frequently pokes fun at him for supposedly "gaining" weight again.
The Sopranos: Vito Spatafore loses 160 lbs between season 5 and 6. This was Real Life Writes the Plot, as actor Joseph R. Gannascoli had lost a similar amount of weight for health reasons.
Hanna, the "It Girl" from Pretty Little Liars who struggles with self-image issues and bulimia. She used to be mocked by Alison (the Alpha Bitch and former "It Girl") for being overweight. Over the summer, after Alison's disappearance, Hanna became gorgeous and skinny.
A killer on an episode of CSI: New York turned out to be a formerly fat young woman who poisoned her male tormenter from when she was fat at a basketball game after arranging for him to be the random fan chosen to make a prize-winning free-throw shot.
Regina and Aisha on The Steve Harvey Show were both fat as kids. Aisha's mom sent her to a fat camp to lose the weight while nothing much is said about how Regina lost hers. It's implied that she lost weight between high school and college.
Prof. Olgevee on The Parkers was fat as a kid and this was shown in a flashback. He was teased by the neighborhood kids. He was embarrassed to reveal this to Nikki and her equally-heavy friends.
Drew's girlfriend Nikki Fifer on The Drew Carey Show. One of the reasons that she broke up with Drew was that being with him was causing her to start putting on weight again.
Woody on Cheers. One episode has a former girlfriend (also Formerly Fat) from home showing up to visit. They begin to binge-eat to repress their sexual attraction to each other, but once they figure it out (and sleep together), they go back to eating normally.
On an episode of TheBigBangTheory, Penny bribes Howard into helping her plan a birthday party for Leonard by promising he can pick up her friends, one of whom is a "former fat girl with low self-esteem."
In Persona 4, Ai Ebihara, the Moon Social Link. Excessive bullying and a sudden upgrade in her family's wealth led her to shed all of it in an effort to abandon her past life.
Persona 2: Innocent Sin reveals this to the be past of Eikichi Mishina, who completely changed his image after frequent bullying culminated in a thug pulling his pants down in front of the girl he liked. He is now extremely attractive and popular and nobody at his current school realizes his past.
Hanae of Red String started with a formerly fat background. As the story has progressed, she's put a lot of the weight back on. She puts a lot of her self worth on being pretty in other people's opinions. Her mother's vision of her as a girlie princess takes a huge toll on her.
Raven of Questionable Content was mentioned to have been a bit on the heavy side before the comic started. She's a bit sensitive about it, so no one brings it up.
Sharon of General Protection Fault used to be much heavier than she is. Some harsh comments made to the obese Dexter regarding his weight cause him to nearly turn down a full-time position at GPF, but Sharon was motivated by concern for him and apologizes.
One of the 4-koma comics on Gaia Online has Liam blackmailing athletic Valley Girl Sasha with high-school yearbook photos of her as an obese, terribly-dressed teenager.
Amy Wong from Futurama was very fat as a child; even her parents tease her mercilessly about it. In one episode, the main characters all revert to their childhood forms, and Amy, again overweight, becomes the butt of all her parents' childish jokes.
Carnie Wilson underwent lap-band surgery, broadcast online. (Although as of 2011 she'd gained back quite a bit due to stress and pregnancy).
Rolan Ajo is a Taiwanese girl who wanted to be a cosplayer, but was discouraged by her heavy frame. Ten years later, she's lost 44 lbs and is hailed as "Taiwan's cutest cosplayer" and a minor celebrity in her home country.