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I Am Big Boned
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.
Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner

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.

This would be Truth in Television, definitely. Incidentally, in Real Life, many of these "excuses" are accurate in at least some cases, such as hypothyroidism. Not all real fat people live up to the Big Eater cartoon.

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.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    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.

    Comicbooks 
  • 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.

    Fan Fiction 
  • 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!
  • Barbershop
    Dinka: I'm big-boned, Rick!
  • The Wrath Of God
    Jennings: My size is due to a glandular condition, Mr. Keogh.

    Literature 
  • 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.
    • 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:
    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 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 And 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.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield does it sometimes, a few with the trope name (the page image is the response of his sarcastic bathroom scale).

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Comedian Mikey Robins once explained that his size was indeed a result of a gland problem: He'd eaten too many glands.
  • Comedian Gabriel Iglesias often quips that according to his mother he's not fat, he's "fluffy". He goes on to describe the five levels of fatness: Big, Healthy, Husky, Fluffy, and DAAAAMN!
    • He recently discovered a sixth level: AWW, HELL NO!'' (think about how Will Smith says it, and you've got the picture)
  • 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 in Lock 'n Load:
    You're big assed! Dinosaurs are big boned! Put the fork down!

    Videogames 
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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]
  • 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.
  • Manfred in Ice Age: "I'm not fat. It's all this hair. It makes me look poofy."
  • 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...
    • Which is funny, considering Maurice and Gantu have the same voice actor, and this occurs in Aqua's Deep Space:
      Stitch: *Gibberish*
      Gantu': I'm just big boned!
  • The Scotsmans 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.

    Real Life 
  • 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 has fat but "resting muscles", or at least so he did in an interview.


Heavy VoiceHigh Fat IndexNutritional Nightmare
Hurricane of ExcusesExcuse of an IndexI Did What I Had to Do
House of Broken MirrorsBody Image TropesRage Against the Reflection
Free WheelImageSource/Newspaper ComicsIllogical Safe

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