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Chubby Mama, Skinny Papa

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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.

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"). Sort of the parental version of Fat and Skinny.


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  • 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).

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kurikinton and Mame Soramame from Doctor Slump. They also count as Hot Guy, Ugly Wife, as Kurikinton is tall, fit, and has a cool appearance (for his age), while Mame is a chubby, short woman.
  • Dorothy and Leona's parents are this in Pripara. They both work on a restaurant, but it's their mom the one who cooks.
  • The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz depicts Uncle Henry as a lanky older man and Auntie Em as his larger wife.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice: Hiroko and Toshiya Katsuki, the protagonist's parents.

    Comic Books 
  • The town doctor Maximillian Hopper and his wife Nurse Beatrice Hopper in Sunnyville Stories. Max is quite skinny and Beatrice is fat.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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.


    Films — 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.
  • Corpse Bride: Victor's father is skinny while Victor's mother is wide enough to have trouble fitting into the carriage.
  • Alcmene and Amphitryon, the adoptive parents of Hercules.
  • In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Mrs. Claus is chubby while Santa Claus apparently loses most of his weight during the year. She's pretty aggressive, mostly in trying to get him to fatten up. ("Whoever heard of a skinny Santa?! Eat! Eat!")
  • The tall and lean King and the short, obese Queen in Muzzy in Gondoland.
  • Freddie's mom and dad in Scooby Doo! Pirates Ahoy! Fred's dad is lean and tall while Fred's mom is a little chubby.
  • The Wizard of Oz: Aunt Em is a large and somewhat short woman, while her husband Uncle Henry is tall and lanky.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cold Turkey: Dr. Proctor is short and thin, while his wife is tall and big-boned.
  • Ma and Pa Kettle, from the film series starting with The Egg and I. Pa Kettle is a thin man, while Ma Kettle has a "potato sack" figure. Having fifteen children will do that to a woman!
  • 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.
  • Norbit provides a rather extreme example, though the difference in girth between the titular protagonist and his wife, Rasputia, is mostly Played for Laughs.
  • Mishima and Lucrèce in The Suicide Shop. This is used to convey warmth by showing her as the more understanding of the two. More like an Invoked Trope, since it's show that both of them have the same views about suicide and their clients.
  • Dawn and Nobby in Grimsby
  • Farmer Hoggett, played by the 6'7" and rail-thin James Cromwell, and his wife Mrs Hoggett, played by the 5'2" and much fuller-figured Magda Szubanski, from Babe.

  • Discworld:
    • Sam Vimes is described as being kind of wiry and somewhere about average height at most due to growing up poor and undernourished. His wife, Lady Sybil, is a woman whose motions are usually described using tectonic metaphors, and is more than once compared to a valkyrie of the Wagnerian variety. While the other characters tend to be intimidated by her imposing presence, the book describes her as kindhearted and compassionate. She also abides by most traditional maternal roles, though she does so out of duty and obligation, rather than necessity.
    • Unseen Academicals gives us Glenda and Nutt. Nutt appears very skinny (but he's an orc and stronger than he looks) while Glenda is plump and matronly. Unlike Sybil, Glenda is also quite short, though.
  • In Harry Potter Molly was frequently described as a short, plump, kindly-looking woman, whom Harry 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, Percy, and Bill. Arthur was less strict than his wife, and his children usually thought he was funny - though when he did get angry it was noted as being all the more startling for being unexpected. (Applies less so in the movies, though, as the movies' Arthur Weasley is still taller than Molly but is fairly pudgy himself.)
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • It features a younger version of this. Lord Roose Bolton is a bit of a Medieval health nut, leeching himself constantly and drinking hippocras rather than wine. When he 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 (called Fat Walda to distinguish her from all the other Waldas in the family), the fattest one. By the fifth book, she's pregnant with his child.
    • Played straight with Genna Lannister and Emmon Frey, Tywin Lannister's sister and brother-in-law. This fits with her domineering nature compared to her thin, weak-willed husband.
  • In Journey to the River Sea Mr. and Mrs. Carter, who are the protagonist's Jerkass guardians.
  • The Wormwoods are this in Roald Dahl's Matilda, but only in the book.
  • Jack Sprat and his wife. Other depictions often have him shorter as well, emphasizing the Tiny Guy, Huge Girl even more. In Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime books, Jack Sprat is the one from the rhyme (as well as the one from Jack and the Beanstalk, which he says is just a matter of economy), making him a "Person of Dubious Reality," like many of the characters he represents which makes him very good at his job. His first wife was the one from the story, and she died before the events of the first book due to her, well, eating nothing but fat. He keeps this secret, vigorously denying it when people comment on his diet and his history of killing giants. ("Only one was a giant; the others were just tall!") He eventually comes clean at the advice of Punch and Judy.
  • The Thénardiers in Les Misérables: Madame is described as enormous and imposing, while Monsieur is small and weedy.
  • Prin and Christie in The Diviners (1974). The adopted parents of Morag Gunn, Prin is morbidly obese due to varicose veins (making it painful for her to walk or get any exercise) and Christie is small and twitchy.
  • The Pretenders:
    • Many married couples in the Filipino aristocracy fit this—for instance, lean Don Manuel Villa and fat Mrs Villa, or tall Ben de Jesus and his pudgy wife Nena. Usually this results from having several children all in succession.
    • Explicitly inverted with Tony Samson's sister Betty, who remains lean but muscular despite three kids, and whose husband Bert is more heavily built.
    • Also tragically averted with Tony Samson and Carmen Villa, the latter who wastes away after he dies by suicide.
  • The White Company: Sir Nigel Loring is (to the surprise of many who know his fearsome reputation) a small, frail-looking and balding man, and his wife, Lady Maude, is a large, stocky and forbidding woman. Under no circumstances should anyone comment on the disparity, Sir Nigel can and will see it as a insult to her and demand reparation.

    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.
  • Dr Harold Abbott and his wife Rose from Everwood visually fit as Harold is tall and lanky, while Rose is chubby. However, she's fairly tall and in no way fat. They also have a healthy family dynamic and consider themselves Happily Married.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Epiphany and White Kryptonite Eddie Diamond in Ohio Valley Wrestling, after the former's Heel–Face Turn anyway. She'd switch between nurturing and dominating depending on how well Diamond behaved himself.

  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy XIV has them more as a Parental Substitute, but in Shadowbringers, Alphinaud makes the acquaintance of the Chais, with Chai-Nuzz as the Skinny Papa and Dulia-Chai as the Chubby Mama while he and the Warrior of Darkness infiltrate Eulmore.
  • The 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.
  • The WarioWare series has Jimmy T.'s parents to a, well... T. Mama T. is short and chubby, while Papa T. is tall and skinny akin to Waluigi.

  • Cirque Royale: The Klownikov parents are chubby mother Quinn and skinny father Kingston.

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Flamingo features Milo Powell's parents, David, who is skinny and tall, and Margerie, who is short and fat.
  • The Cleveland Show Inverted with Cleveland and Donna Brown. Played straight with 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. 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. Considering the way Eustace's mother treated him, his behavior isn't all that surprising.
  • 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 (and slightly chubbier than the standard female pony mold). 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. 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 Jerkass (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 old stereotype of the time that women from East Europe / White Russia were fat, ugly and manly strong.