Formerly Fat

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/amy_formerly_fat.jpg

"I owe it to my high school self. I never let her eat."
Monica, Friends

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 have a past they aren't proud of and that they care 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 self-discipline and motivation.

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 positive and negative attitudes are not mutually exclusive either, leading to many Formerly Fat individuals to have complicated self-images.

Whenever a celebrity loses weight, expect an Internet Backdraft over whether they looked better before or after, with plenty of size-shaming getting tossed in both directions.

For the inverse of this trope, see Formerly Fit.


Examples:

    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.
  • Mizuki Himeji from Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu.
  • Haruka Nishiharu from Girls Saurus.
  • Hinata Shintani from Maid-Sama! was really fat 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 Ōkami-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.
  • Miku Sanada from Judge used to be fat, but eventually got liposuction and other cosmetic surgery, to make herself thin. The money for it came from the bribe her grandfather took from the judge overseeing Atsuya's trial, which is why she is being targeted by the mastermind behind the titular game.
  • The male protagonist of Masamune-kun no Revenge was once mocked and nicknamed "Piggy" for his weight by the girl he confessed to. Out of revenge, he eventually got himself thinner, a new surname and, taking advantage of the fact she doesn't recognize him, tried to get her to fall in love with him just to dump her.
  • Takefumi Tonami from Kare Kano was this as a child and was heavily bullied, and was somehow protected by Tsubaki, who in turn would bully him, and he gets VERY annoyed at her because she was asked to by the teachers, as he thought she did it willingly. Years later, he comes back as a slimmer, more handsome boy to use his charms against her, but she doesn't recognize it at first. They fall for real later in the series.
  • In Les MisÚrables: Shōjo Cosette, Madame Thénardier is shown to have lost a lot of weight by the time she was in prison.
  • Sakiko Takashima from Sket Dance, who used to be overweight in middle school. She gets blackmailed into smashing a number of classroom windows by a girl, Saori Yasuda, who holds a grudge on her due to an occurrence in middle school. She complies, as Saori threatens to expose her old pictures of her chubbier self, which would potentially harm her popularity.
  • As a middle schooler Mizuki from Tribe Cool Crew was a shy, glasses wearing girl who dressed in lolita and carried around a teddy bear. As an adult she's considerably more confident, more thinner, dresses in an "urban" fashion, and ditched the glasses. It's possible street dancing caused her to lose weight.
  • Surprisingly enough, Minako Aino of Sailor Moon was revealed to be this in Codename: Sailor V: one of the plots of the Dark Agency involved getting people fat to lure them into energy draining pods with the excuse of making them slim down, and Minako was one of those who fell for it. Thankfully, Artemis noticed before it got out of control and got her to exercise... Also taking advantage of the situation and her Hot-Blooded personality to make her put up some muscles without her noticing.
  • Yuta of Kiznaiver is popular with girls and otherwise charming, but his biggest secret is that he was overweight as a middle schooler until he went on a diet.

    Comic Books 
  • Jughead in Archie Comics (2015) was chubby as a ten year old. After his family lost a lot of money, he became thinner but kept his Big Eater habits.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Matilda from Zoolander has a grudge against models because her obsession with body image made her bulimic, and A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read.
  • The Eddie Murphy version of The Nutty Professor turns into a thin Buddy Love.
  • At the end of Austin Powers in Goldmember, Fat Bastard isn't fat anymore, because he went on the Subway diet. However he doesn't look that much better since he now has a lot of loose hanging skin.
  • Ryan Reynolds' character in the film Just Friends was really obese in high school.
  • Debbie Salt in Scream 2 used to weigh 60 more pounds. Back when she was Mrs. Loomis. That's how Gale didn't recognize her.
  • Joan Cusack's character in In & Out is stated to have lost a ton of weight before the movie started.
  • Alyson Hannigan in Date Movie.
  • 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. He reverts back at the end of the movie.
  • Matt in 13 Going on 30. We meet the chubby version first in A Minor Kidroduction. It's lampshaded when he's reunited with the high school Alpha Bitch, "wow, you lost all that baby fat".
  • Alluded to in 2012. Adrian says that every time he finished a book, his father would give him an ice cream cone. Then adds "I was a fat kid".

    Literature 
  • Anita from Anita Blake Vampire Hunter mentions having been fat in middle school.
  • 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 only fat for just long enough to acquire the nickname. It stuck. According to himself, he wasn't particularly fat either, he just had a few years where he ate a bit too much and didn't get quite enough exercise.
  • 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.
  • Martha Abbott in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling begins as "a little fat for a seven-year-old" and is labeled "the quiet fat one" by her classmates. By the time she enters high school, she's slimmed down and turned into Everyone Loves Blondes (intelligent edition) and is referred to as "the cool blonde who's in all the school plays."
  • In The Inheritance Cycle, near the end of the book, Eragon sees Sloan once again and for the last time. The book says that Eragon for a moment, mistook him for an elf and considering that he was under the care of the elves of Ellesméra, this was probably the case.
  • Augustus Gloop at the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after being squeezed through a pipe.
  • Jacqueline Carey's The Sundering has secondary characters Dani The Chosen One and his uncle Thulu The Fat. As they travel through deserts, jungles, mountaintops, and a Mordor-expy, all on berries and supplies while on the constant run from enemy forces, Thulu's title in the book goes from The Fat to The Lean to The Slim.
  • Dudley Dursley from Harry Potter started out very fat, but diet and exercise programs imposed by his school nurse eventually made him impressively muscular and athletic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On an episode of The Big Bang Theory, 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."
    • Raj once claimed to have been fat as a child to garner sympathy from the others. When Leonard says that he's seen old photos of Raj, he confesses that he was actually "svelte like a gazelle."
  • The reality series The Biggest Loser attempts to invoke this trope in their competitors.
  • 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.
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Sgt. Terry Jeffords is this, having gone from being fat to being muscular. He is still incredibly sensitive to being called fat, however.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The main antagonist from the 5th season of Dexter was overweight as a child.
  • Drake & Josh: Josh has noticeably lost weight by the third season and became slightly skinnier by the fourth season.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
  • The Elementary version of Mycroft was fat when he was younger, resulting in the nickname "Fatty" from Sherlock. However, his weight loss was due to illness and he chose to keep the weight off after getting healthier.
  • Friends:
    • Monica was famously very fat in her younger days and many jokes on the show revolve around this. Her "Fat Monica" version is often seen in flashback episodes.
    • 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.
  • 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 Heroes, illusionist Candice Wilmer's real appearance is a lumpy mess named Betty.
  • An episode of House has patient 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.
  • jPod 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.
  • 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.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: One episode featured the boys getting a beautiful girl as their baby-sitter who had been a classmate of Francis before he was sent away to military school. Due to her weight when they had gone to school together he had been the only person to be kind to her and defend her from bullying, so she had developed a crush on him. When she phoned him trying to score a date, he rejected her, thinking she still was fat.
  • 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.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather", Sharona has sort of a thing with a mobster called Fat Tony, who's anything but. He was, however, very fat not too long ago, and his nickname of many years has stuck with him. Monk is naturally bothered by this.
  • Schmidt from New Girl having been a fat kid in college is basically the driving mechanism behind his personality. The series's lead character Jess was also shown to be fairly chubby as a kid.
  • Rachel Gatina from One Tree Hill was originally obese before undergoing plastic surgery treatments to alter her appearance.
  • The Palace had the attractive and thin Alice Templeton, better known to her childhood friends as "Fatty".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Taxi, Alex was meeting up with Angela, an overweight phone operator that went on a Blind Date with in the second episode, but has since lost touch, and is surprised to find that she has lost a large amount of weight, and gained some self-confidence as a result, much to Louie's disappointment who had a string of fat jokes prepared for the occasion.
  • 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.
  • In the made-for-TV movie To Be Fat Like Me, the main character's mother gained weight due to health problems, leading to a complicated relationship with her daughter (played by Kaley Cuoco).

    Music 
  • This happens to the male supporting actors during the course of the music video for Olivia Newton-John's "Physical".

    Comic Strips 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Late in ECW's lifespan, Brian Heffron, better known as The Blue Meanie, lost over 100 lbs and obtained porn star Jasmine St. Claire as a valet. Of course, he also became a heel who looked down on the audience for staying fat instead of losing weight and hooking up with a porn star like he did.
  • During her days as a wrestler, Bull Nakano followed the same diet that sumo wrestlers do and sported a very stout physique. Around the turn of the century she retired, switched over to golf, lost a lot of weight and turned out to be very pretty underneath Bull Nakano's punk-inspired outfit and hairstyle.
  • If pressed on the issue, Jessie Kaye will tell you this is one of the reasons she hates girly girls and divas. She still resents everything "they" got that she did not when she was fat.
  • Betsy Ruth from the Team 3D Academy debuted in TNA as Big Beautiful Woman Rosie Lotta Love but was quickly released. In 2014 she revealed her massive weight loss as a result of the training she underwent after taking on Kyoko Inoue in the Diana promotion of Japan.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
    • Done across games - Miyabi Hanakouji appears fat in Innocent Sin but is thin in Eternal Punishment. It's not a straight example of this trope though - Miyabi gained the weight before Innocent began due to eating Comfort Food for the incident which inspired Eikichi to lose his weight but remained slim throughout the time of Punishment.
  • Eva from Grim Fandango. She refers to her life in the land of the living as "the fat days".
  • Duncan from Shadowrun Hong Kong was always the muscle of your outfit, but in his teens he was decidedly pudgy (to the point that people referred to him as Duncan Donut). That quickly vanished when he joined Lone Star.
  • Prompto from Final Fantasy XV is revealed in prequel/tie-in anime, Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV to have been formerly fat, becoming motivated to lose weight to work up the confidence to make friends with Prince Noctis. This is slightly touched upon throughout the game in side-conversations and personal quests.
  • The Batman: Arkham Series version of Amanda Waller fluctuated a great deal, as Origins and Blackgate used a design inspired by the New 52 version, Batman: Assault on Arkham used a more traditional design for her and thus Waller was obese—and Underworld has DLC that took place after and yet reused the Origins design, so Waller lost the weight she'd gained.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
  • Ritz of Boxer Hockey.
  • The demigod Jagganoth of Kill Six Billion Demons used to be a tubby guy in an elephant mask. Now he is described as "his own fortress of blood and horn [...] the greatest warrior creation has ever known, a brutal tyrant-king, unconquerable and unassailable." The guy is a thirty foot tall monolith of muscle.
  • Emil from Stand Still, Stay Silent, before joining the military.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Chick was once a fat, wangsty Emo Teen who listened to The Phantom of the Opera because he knew her pain.
  • Now Lean and Mean, Ask That Guy with the Glasses used to be the size of a bulldozer and felt dead inside.
  • 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.
  • Danny from Bravest Warriors. It was a very, very large contributing factor to his extremely terrible (and hilarious) childhood.
  • Discussed and deconstructed mercilessly in the We Hate Movies review of Madhouse, where the hosts all denounce the cruelty of casting a fat child actor just to be a subject of mockery in a flashback sequence.
    Andrew Jupin: "Oh, great! What am I doing?" "You're being made fun of by an entire neighborhood of children for being overweight." "...What?"
    Chris Cabin: "We're going to pretend that you're a float. In a parade."
    Eric Szyszka: "And you, uh... you get paid in food, right?"
    Chris Cabin: Cake. Paid in cake.
    Andrew Jupin: "Patrick, you're okay with getting paid in cake, right, honey?"
    Eric Szyszka: "Don't worry, Patrick - 3 slices of cake, SAG minimum."
    Andrew Jupin: "Patrick, we're going to need you to take off that baggy button-down shirt and put on this skin-tight polo."
    Eric Szyszka: With horizontal stripes?
    Andrew Jupin: He—he looks like Jerry O'Connell in Stand by Me.
    Chris Cabin: "The bottom of your stomach has to be in 85% of this footage."
    Andrew Jupin: [laughing] That poor fucking kid!
  • Whateley Universe: Solange, because of her mutation, as said in The Bear, The Bitch, and Everything (Part 2):
    She remembered waking up and stepping on the scale in her bathroom to find that, overnight, 15 pounds had vanished. She looked in the mirror and saw herself noticeably thinner, taller, and frankly prettier. She was much less the fat little girl she always had been and was obviously on her way to becoming a delicate young woman who was merely growing out of baby fat.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
    Amy: Dad, if you're gonna make fat jokes 'till I get cute again, I'm just gonna stay in my room!
    Leo: Stay in room? You so fat, you gonna stay all around room!
  • Word of God claims that Heather from Total Drama Island was fat and unpopular up until she started high school (and got bullied a lot as a result), but now she "overcompensates for it with a mean veneer and lots of makeup." It's very likely that Heather's experiences with being bullied were a factor in hers turnout as a mean person.
  • Connie Benge on Doug used to be chubby, but in later seasons it's revealed she lost a lot of weight at summer camp. Unusually, the character started out chubby, but was retooled to have lost it in the Disney spin-off.
  • Nazz from Ed, Edd n Eddy, who's the resident hottie, was revealed to be quite heavy when she was younger.
  • In Producing Parker, various Flashbacks and Embarrassing Old Photos show Parker as fat from infancy to her teens.
  • In Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Jax reveals to Sonya that he used to be the fattest kid in his school.
  • Marsh Merriweather from High School USA!.
  • On The Cleveland Show, Cleveland feels unappreciated by Donna, and winds up reconnecting to an old high school friend who used to have a crush on him. Donna is more amused than threatened, until she meets old "Fatty Patty" and realizes she now looks like a supermodel. Unfortunately for Cleveland, though, Patty turns out to be a Stalker with a Test Tube; Donna eventually gets Patty to relent by convincing her to "stop thinking like a fat girl" and realize she could get a better man for real. (Yeah, Donna isn't very nice in this episode.)
  • Minnie Mouse, of all people, is revealed to be formerly overweight in the Paul Rudish Mickey Mouse (2013) short "Doggone Biscuits", when she attempts to slim down an accidentally fattened Pluto by locking him in the steam room, stating that it worked for her while the camera pans out to show a picture of Minnie being morbidly obese.
  • The Legend of Korra: In season 4 Bumi has lost a lot of weight going back to his appearance in season 1.
  • It's shown in Codename: Kids Next Door that Numbuh Two will lose a lot of weight as a teenager and become lanky. He'll gain it back somewhere in his adult years.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Chocolate with Nuts", SpongeBob and Patrick try to sell chocolate bars to a fish who refuses the candy, and he shows them a photo of himself obese at 13. Patrick proceeds to buy 10 copies of the photo.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FormerlyFat