Strong Bad: Good grief, Bubs, you've really let yourself go.
Bubs: Hey, man, I've got a glandular problem!
Strong Bad: More like a gravy boat problem.Overweight people can be very self conscious. It's understandable. We tend to associate many negative traits and behaviors with obesity. Thus, overweight people tend to come up with any excuse they can to avoid the stigma of being labeled as such. It isn't that they are fat, they are just big-boned. Or maybe it's just baby fat. Maybe they have a gland disorder or a slow metabolism. It has nothing to do with lack of exercise, or the triple cheeseburger, chili fries and chocolate-covered strawberries they just ate. In Real Life, many of these excuses are accurate in at least some cases, such as hypothyroidism. A form of Insistent Terminology. See also Does This Make Me Look Fat?, Hollywood Pudgy, and Fat and Proud. Not to be confused with another kind of bone.
— Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner
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Anime & Manga
- Choji Akimichi from Naruto. Oddly enough, it appears to actually be true, since by the time of the timeskip he's certainly not svelte, but looks more like a linebacker, suggesting that he grew into his body.
- In Digimon Adventure, Whalemon said this. In the dub.
- Axis Powers Hetalia — A fan asked Word of God if Russia was fat, and they received an in-character answer from Russia saying exactly this. He was later shown in a shirt that said "Big Boned" and appeared to be struggling to fit it. The few instances we've seen him without his coats, he appears to be rather muscular.
- Fist of the Blue Sky: Zhang Lie-Shan, boss of the Hong Hua-Hui Triads a man gifted with "exceptional stature"... as in "literally the height of a three stories tall building" exceptional stature. However, he is incredibly sensitive about being out of the ordinary, and gets very unhappy about being called "too big"... as in "smother his tree sized cigar into your face and drown you with his car-sized shot glass of whisky" unhappy.
- In the Scare Tactics comic, Grossout's mother kept insisting that he was just "big for his age".
- Obelix from the Astérix comics. ("I'm not fat. I'm just... well wrapped.") Calling him fat is almost a Berserk Button with him. Since most people call him by his weight and his reactions range from pouting to a brutal beating, it is usually Played for Laughs.
- A joke in the screenshots and fanfics on Raquaza Master's Pokétown Pokémon board featured a character calling Ash fat, and he would reply that he was big-boned. It's even funnier when you notice that he isn't fat at all.
- Inverted in Evas XLR. Shinji Ikari calls his cousin Coop big-boned. Coop doesn't like it.
"Stop insulting me! I'm fat, not big-boned!"
Films — Live-Action
- Horace, known as "Fat Kid" of The Monster Squad, to two bullies:
Horace: Look, I have a glandular problem, OK? At least I don't have a stupidity problem!
Dinka: I'm big-boned, Rick!
- The Wrath Of God
Jennings: My size is due to a glandular condition, Mr. Keogh.
- In Fatso, while answering Lydia's question about not eating cookies, Dom describes himself as "stocky," "large," and "big."
- In Harry Potter, the Dursleys make excuse after excuse for their son Dudley, saying that he still has baby fat/is big-boned/is a growing boy right up until his school sends a letter saying they no longer have uniforms that fit him.
Harry: I don't know what Madame Maxime thinks she's playing at. "Big bones", the only thing with bigger bones than her is a dinosaur.
- In the same book, Hagrid, who is described as being twice as tall as a normal man and five times as broad, admits to being a half-giant and asks the similarly-built Madame Maxime about her own ancestry. Madame Maxime is very offended, and claims to just have big bones. Harry and Ron don't buy it for a second:
- In Supergran by Forrest Wilson, one of Supergran's sidekicks is on the large side, but tells anybody who brings it up that "It's not fat, it's muscle". The disclaimer is so firmly ingrained that when, at the end of the book, somebody remarks on his muscular physique, his mouth says "It's not muscle, it's fat" before his brain catches up.
- In Robert Kimmel Smith's Jelly Belly, Nathaniel's grandmother insists that her darling grandson isn't overweight; he's just big-boned like her. Even after Nathaniel himself tries to get her to acknowledge that he really does need to lose weight and that she could help by not cooking so much food for him.
- Lula. Do not tell her otherwise, or there will be painful (if humorous) consequences.
- Jupiter Jones of The Three Investigators is a stocky, round-faced kid who runs to pudge. It's something of a sore spot.
- In Stephen King's It, the back story of Ben's weight loss as an adult includes his confrontation with his mother. Keeping her son well-fed was a comfort for her, so she made the excuse that he just had big bones.
- Gray, the Megalodon protagonist of Shark Wars, is often told by his best friend Barkley (a dogfish) to go on a diet. In response, he'll respond with "I'm not fat. I'm big-cartilaged."
- Gilligan's Island:
Skipper: I'm not fat! I just have big bones!Gilligan: Yeah, and they're covered with big meat!
- Boy Meets World
Eric: You know, at first I blamed it on myself. I thought maybe glands, and then I thought maybe metabolism, but then I thought to myself I'm no racist, so it all goes back to you guys.Alan Matthews: Listen, Porky, we're in the middle of a serious family discussion here.
- In Curb Your Enthusiasm, Susie is offended when Larry says that her dog, Oscar is getting fat.
Larry: You go around calling Jeff [her husband] a fat fuck.Susie: Jeff is a fat fuck, Oscar's just big-boned.
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air "Big-Boneded" was occasionally used to describe someone who was overweight.
- Mike & Molly
Molly's Mom: You're not fat, dear, you're just big boned.Molly: Bones don't jiggle, ma.
- Married... with Children: Al Bundy's mother-in-law isn't fat. She's "retaining water". Al replied the Hoover Dam was retaining water.
- Deconstructed in Bill Nye the Science Guy when the show did an episode about bones and muscle. One of the sketches features a Bonanza parody where Hoss tries to tell Little Joe that he's only big-boned, not fat. Little Joe comments to the audience that it doesn't actually work like that way, but goes along with it for Hoss's sake, commenting that some people are very sensitive about their weight.
- Garfield does it sometimes, a few with the trope name (the page image is the response of his sarcastic bathroom scale).
- In January 29th, 1979, Garfield literally claimed to be big boned. Jon called Garfield "disgustingly, slovenly, sloppy fat" and Garfield said Jon obviously had "disgustingly, slovenly, sloppy fat" confused with "big boned".
- In September 21st, 1979, Garfield stated people under 6'4" aren't overweight. They're "undertall".
- In November 16th, 2002, a mouse used that excuse to have a hole the size of the dining table.
- As Garfield said about the scale in January 19th, 2008, "he can dish it out, but he sure can't take it".
- Peanuts: Inverted and played straight in a 1994 strip where Snoopy is visited by his brothers in the hospital.
Andy: If we're all brothers, how come I'm so fuzzy, you're so skinny and Olaf is so fat?
Spike: I'm not skinny, I'm trim!
Olaf: And I'm not fat!
Andy: You're not fat?
Olaf: I'm roly-poly!
- Lemont in Candorville claims this is the case for him. Clyde is not convinced.
Clyde: Bones don't jiggle, Big L.
- Comedian Mikey Robins once explained that his size was indeed a result of a gland problem: He'd eaten too many glands.
- Gabriel Iglesias' Running Gag is that he isn't fat, he's fluffy. Since then, he's been known as "Fluffy" or "Fluffy Guy", and the gag even lent the title to his second DVD special, I'm Not Fat... I'm Fluffy. He's even devised his own scale of "fatness", which currently is divided into six levels (five before the aforementioned special): Big, Healthy, Husky, Fluffy, DAMN!, and "OH, HELL NO!".
- Ricky Gervais. "Yeah, big bones, covered in meat and gravy!!"
- Billy Connolly discussed opera in one of his shows, and made reference to how rotund many singers there tended to be:
She said "I'm retaining water!"No, you're retaining pizza!
- Denis Leary has a small routine in his stand-up special Lock 'n Load about fat people. In particular, he mentions a real-life story about a man who weighed over a thousand pounds who had chest pains that had to have a wall cut out of his house in order to get him to the hospital.
You're big assed! Dinosaurs are big boned! Put the fork down!
- In Dynasty Warriors 5: Xtreme Legends, Meng Huo meeting Xu Zhu on the battlefield of the Legend Mode stage, Struggle for Nan Zhong:
Xu Zhu: Hey! You're big and fat, just like me!
Meng Huo: What?! I'm not fat! This is all muscle!
- Subverted in The Curse of Monkey Island when a fat pirate is turned into an undead skeleton pirate.
Fat Pirate: (looking down at his large ribcage) Hey, whaddya know! I really am big-boned!
- In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Captain Gantu shouts this in response to some of Experiment 626/Stitch's incoherent gibberish taunting.
- The Arch-Bishop in Bruno the Bandit claims to be big-boned. Fiona is not convinced.
Fiona: Wow! I've never seen a fat skeleton before...
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: In the Distant Prologue, Michael, who happens to be somewhat of the chubby side, starts moping after getting fired and his complaints about everything currently wrong in his life include being fat. Signe, who's trying to cheer him up, invokes this trope by telling Michael that he looks "genuinely big boned" to her.
- South Park: Eric Cartman.
Stan: C'mon, fatass!
Ms. Cartman: Now, now, he's not fat, he's big boned!
Kyle: Then he must have a giant bone in his ass!
Ms. Cartman: [hysterical laughter]
- In another episode, when Cartman is sent off to fat camp, he tries to use his mother's defense that he's only big boned. She then replies, "Those were all lies, Hon. You're just fat."
- The Simpsons: Homer Simpson:
Snake: Give me my car, fatty!Homer: What? This is my car! And I'm not fat, it's glandular!
- A sumo wrestler used the same excuse when called fat by Homer. He immediately thereafter steals Homer's pretzel.
- Homer also averted this when he told Marge (paraphrase from memory), "Nobody puts on 20 pounds of bone!"
- Comic Book Guy once had a shirt reading "I'm not fat. I'm enormous."
- Bart tries the "I'm big boned" excuse at fat camp in "The Heartbroke Kid". He gets told there is no such thing and whipped.
- In "Radio Bart", Chief Wiggum is asked why he can't fit in a well. He replies with, "Well, I'm too f-... important."
- Manfred in Ice Age: "I'm not fat. It's all this hair. It makes me look poofy."
- Santa Claus says the same thing, almost word for word (he blames his suit instead of his hair), in the TV special Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas.
- Doug had a crisis when he had gained weight and worked out hard to get back to his normal weight, but realized he was always a little chubby. As he talked with some chunky friends, they each gave some alternate terminology like "big boned" and "stout". When Doug asked what he was, they said, "Husky?"
- In Gummi Bears, Tummi uses this excuse that he has "big bones," to which Gruffi snaps, "Yeah, and they're getting bigger."
- In The Penguins of Madagascar with Maurice...
- Julien: Ah! Thank goodiness you are here to help my chunky monkey to carry me.
Maurice: I'm big boned...
- Samurai Jack: The Scotsman's wife does not like being called fat. She destroyed a Demon-God and his entire horde for being called so.
Scotsmans wife: Fat? FAT? I'M NOT FAT, I'M STOUT!!
- Inverted in The Cleveland Show
Donna: I suppose you brought your hobbit friend too.Colt: That's offensive. I'm small boned. Except for one. This chick gets it.
- There was an episode of Johnny Test where Johnny made fun of a video game vendor for being fat. He claimed it was a "glandular problem". The episode was based off of the concept of karma, so when Johnny ate an experimental candy bar, it messed with his hormones and made him fat as well. In other words, he now had a glandular problem.
- In Futurama, Hermes sees himself through an X-ray. Not only is he not big-boned, but if it wasn't for all that fat, his skeleton is so small that he would effectively be a dwarf.
- When Amy's parents call Kif scrawny, Amy says he's just "small-boned". Kif notes that he actually has no bones.
- Fred Flintstone isn't fat. It's all muscle. He then dared Betty to sock his belly to show it. She answered the dare. Fred felt pain but wouldn't scream until he was sure he was out of her hearing range.
- Tiny Toon Adventures: Sweetie was once adopted by an eagle she called fat. His reply was the same as Fred's. To his dismay, she enlarged her hand.
- In Yin Yang Yo!, a magical mishap reduces Master Yo to an ambulatory skeleton. As the spell is reversed, the ample panda looks himself in the mirror stating "I knew it, I knew I was just big boned." This is played with when his body is returned to normal in layers with the first being his muscular system (and presumably fatty tissue) which promptly sags as he continues "jiggly, jiggly bone."
- In an episode of Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats, Sonja teases Heathcliff over how fat he's gotten lately. He tries to say it's only muscle. She's not convinced.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: A variation. Grim isn't thin. He's "delicately boned".
- Inverted in real life. Having a large bone structure makes you look less fat than you are, not more. A person with a very large frame and 30% body fat will appear slimmer than a person with a very small frame and 30% body fat.
- Mass gain from fat is impossible without overeating relative to your activity level, because it would violate the laws of physics (matter-energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed; thus, the only possible source of fat in your body is from the foods you consume). However...
- Certain medical disorders and medications can cause weight gain in the form of water retention, where excessive amounts of water are stored in the body, despite not consuming more calories than is necessary for the body to function. This usually goes away once the underlying medical disorder is treated, but in some cases requires medical intervention.
- Hypothyroidism and related thyroid problems are often cited as a cause of weight gain. However, in reality, only about 5-10 pounds of weight gain from hypothyroidism is typically caused by the hypothyroidism directly in the form of water retention; fat gain is indeed due to overeating relative to energy use. Many people with hypothyroidism feel constantly fatigued, and as a result become more sedentary, which reduces how many calories they burn, so even if they eat a seemingly normal amount of food, they may still be "overeating" if they aren't burning many calories.
- Congestive heart failure can cause considerable water retention.
- Pregnant women frequently retain water, especially in the feet and legs.
- Some medications and medical disorders also affect appetite by making people "feel hungry" more often. This does not cause weight gain in and of itself, but as a result of increased feelings of hunger, many people suffering from increased appetite end up overeating because they don't monitor their food intake.
- Because of its culture, many Pacific Island natives have bigger bodies. This is because, in their culture, being larger is still seen as a sign of wealth. Because of the drive to be a bigger race, many Islanders have the same body type as described above.
- Polynesians have on average the most muscled bodies of all races on Earth (with the unfortunate effect that their endomorphic physiques gain fat even quicker than other people). In Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, most Orcs (who were supposed to be muscled and have high physical strength) have been played by Maori actors for this reason.
- Mexican actor Edgar Vivar claims he is not obese and says he does not have fat but "resting muscles", or at least so he did in an interview.
- The "Other Wiki" discusses the Thrifty Gene hypothesis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrifty_gene_hypothesis