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I Am Big Boned

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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 because 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, a slow metabolism, or they're retaining water, or they're bloated from an allergic reaction. It has nothing to do with lack of exercise or the triple cheeseburger, bacon chili fries, and chocolate-covered strawberries that 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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Marechiyo Omaeda always says he's plump or full-figured whenever someone calls him fat.
  • Digimon Adventure: Whalemon claims he's this in the dub.
  • 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.
  • Glitter Force: In episode 25, Brute says this nearly word-for-word when Rascal comments on how loud he walks.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: 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.
  • Naruto: Choji Akimichi, for whom being called fat is a Berserk Button. 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.
  • One Piece: While dancing, Queen of the Animal Kingdom Pirates claims that his round body is all muscle, not fat.

    Comic Books 

  • Evas XLR: Inverted when Shinji Ikari calls his cousin Coop big-boned. Coop doesn't like it.
    "Stop insulting me! I'm fat, not big-boned!"
  • 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.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Justified version during the final battle in the first fic. While Wind Breaker (a griffon) is trying to support Vix-Lei (a minotaur) as she gets back on her feet, he comments on how heavy she is. She tells him, truthfully, that she weighs more because of how dense her species' bones and muscles are.

    Films — Animated 
  • Ice Age: Manny the Mammoth regularly insists that he's not fat and that he just looks overweight thanks to his fur.
    Manny: I'm not fat, it's all this fur. It makes me look poofy!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Barbershop:
    Dinka: I'm big-boned, Rick!
  • Fatso: While answering Lydia's question about not eating cookies, Dom describes himself as "stocky," "large," and "big."
  • Hairspray (1988): Mr. Pinky, owner of the plus-size boutique, uses all sorts of euphemisms. He also inverts the trope, using "Fatty fatty, two by four, can't fit through the dressing room door?" in his advertising.
  • The Monster Squad: Horace, known as "Fat Kid", makes this claim to two bullies:
    Horace: Look, I have a glandular problem, OK? At least I don't have a stupidity problem!
  • The Wrath of God:
    Jennings: My size is due to a glandular condition, Mr. Keogh.

  • Harry Potter:
    • The Dursleys make excuse after excuse for their overweight 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • One Fat Summer: Bobby Marks never denies being overweight. He did do the research, however, and has found that it's his low basal metabolism that is to blame for him tipping the scales at 200+ pounds, not the binge snacking and laying around the house. He actually uses it as a decoration of time, translating his watch to LBM as others would AM or PM.
  • Shark Wars: Gray, the Megalodon protagonist, 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."
  • Stephanie Plum: Lula. Do not tell her otherwise, or there will be painful (if humorous) consequences.
  • 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.
  • The Three Investigators: Jupiter Jones is a stocky, round-faced kid who runs to pudge. It's something of a sore spot. In the Crimebuster series, he preferred the term "husky" as it seemed more dignified.
  • You Are Dead (Sign Here Please): One of the things Fulcher threatens Nathan with if he won't sign the form acknowledging he's dead is to reincarnate him as the only fat man in history who genuinely has a gland disorder and is big-boned, condemning him to a life of protestations that no one will believe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Barney & Friends: Barney gets stuck in the swing set. After the kids help him out, he says, "I'm not fat, I just have big bones." Being a dinosaur, however, that could very well be the case.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy: Deconstructed 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 that way, but goes along with it for Hoss's sake, commenting that some people are very sensitive about their weight.
  • Boy Meets World: Discussed.
    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.
  • 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.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: "Big-Boneded" was occasionally used to describe someone who was overweight.
  • Gilligan's Island:
    Skipper: I'm not fat! I just have big bones!
    Gilligan: Yeah, and they're covered with big meat!
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In the seventh season, when Mac put on 50 lbs., he kept insisting that it was all muscle, even after he had become diabetic from it.
  • Mike & Molly: Molly's mom claims this for Molly. Molly isn't buying it.
    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, she's retaining Skittles.
  • My Name Is Earl features the episode "Sweet Johnny", where Johnny was shocked about how fat Sheila's butt has gotten, for her to say that she has a lazy thyroid.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: In The Teaser of "Inna Gadda Sabrina", Salem has been putting on weight but is in denial, claiming he doesn't need to diet because "I am not fat, I am big-boned." Then he proceeds to get stuck in the cat door.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Candorville: Lemont claims this is the case for him. Clyde is not convinced.
    Clyde: Bones don't jiggle, Big L.
  • Garfield: The title character does it sometimes, a few with the trope name (the page image is the response from his sarcastic bathroom scale).
  • 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!

    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.
  • 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:
    "I'm big boned."
    Yeah, your arse bone is a helluva size and your belly bone — bloody hell!
    She said "I'm retaining water!"
    No, you're retaining pizza!
    "I have a slow metabolism..."
    ...And a fucking fast appetite!
  • 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 and 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!
  • Larry the Cable Guy has a bit about how his overweight sister claims to have a "thyroid" problem.
    Then you go to her house and it looks like a graveyard for Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies. "Thyroid got a 7-11 problem."

    Video Games 
  • Banjo-Tooie: Gruntilda. Even being down to bones, she still has the same wide load as when she was alive.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island: Subverted 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!
  • 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!
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: This happens if CJ is too fat to start the mission "Green Goo".
    The Truth: Look, I want you to use that gizmo you acquired, but you gotta lose some of that ballast first, fat ass.
    CJ: The hell with you! Man, I'm just big-boned, that's all...
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: Captain Gantu shouts this in response to some of Experiment 626/Stitch's incoherent gibberish taunting.
    Stitch: *Gibberish*
    Gantu: I'm just big-boned!

  • Bruno the Bandit: The Arch-Bishop claims to be big-boned. Fiona is not convinced.
    Fiona: Wow! I've never seen a fat skeleton before...
  • Princess Princess: Sadie claims this, but one insult which digs deep is calling her fat, showing that she's not secure in her own big-boned claim.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In the Distant Prologue, Michael, who happens to be somewhat on 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs: In the episode "Nighty-Night Toon", the narrator describes the Hip Hippos as being incredibly fat. Marita takes offense to this, but Flavio assures her that they are "simply bigger than life itself". In a later scene, Marita tells the narrator that she and Flavio are big-boned, not fat.
  • The Cleveland Show: Inverted in one episode.
    Donna: I suppose you brought your hobbit friend too.
    Colt: That's offensive. I'm small-boned. Except for one. This chick gets it.
  • Doug: The title character 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. This comes up when he talks to some friends who are also Hollywood Pudgy.
    Connie: I'm not fat, Doug. I'm big-boned.
    Larry: And I'm stout.
    Doug: Then what am I?
    Connie and Larry: Husky.
  • The Flintstones: In one episode, Fred Flintstone claims he 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.
  • Futurama:
    • When Amy's parents call Kif scrawny, Amy says he's just "small-boned". Kif notes that he actually has no bones.
    • 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.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: A variation. Grim isn't thin. He's "delicately boned".
  • Gummi Bears: Tummi uses this excuse that he has "big bones," to which Gruffi snaps, "Yeah, and they're getting bigger."
  • Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats: In one episode, Sonja teases Heathcliff over how fat he's gotten lately. He tries to say it's only muscle. She's not convinced.
  • Hey Arnold!: In the episode "24 Hours To Live", Helga calls Harold "Blimpo", only for Harold to answer; "Hey, don't call me "Blimpo"! I have a gland problem."
  • Ice Age: Manfred the mammoth claims that "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.
  • Johnny Test: In one episode, Johnny made fun of a video game vendor for being fat. He claimed it was a "glandular problem". The episode was based on 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.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: Maurice is a little sensitive about his weight.
    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.
    Scotsman's wife: Fat? FAT? I'M NOT FAT, I'M STOUT!!
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson:
    • In "Realty Bites":
      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 in "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo". He immediately thereafter steals Homer's pretzel.
    • Homer also averted this in "Brush With Greatness" when he told Marge, "No-one gains 30 pounds of bone!" after weighing himself and Marge tried to make him feel better by invoking this trope.
    • 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."
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Timon & Pumbaa: In the episode "Gabon With The Wind", Pumbaa takes offence to Timon calling him plump to the Cheetah Brothers; "Plump?! I'm just big-boned."
  • The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: When the McDonaldland gang find their way into the middle ages in "Have Time, Will Travel", the royal chef wants to bake Birdie into a pie after King Murray's knights bring her to the kitchen and point out how good and plump Birdie is. Birdie objects that he's only pointing at her problem area.
  • 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."

    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.
    • Jon Brower Minnoch, the fattest human (and indeed primate) of all times, suffered from this: out of his peak weight of 1400 lbs (640 kg), over 900 lbs (408 kg) was retained fluid.
  • 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 The 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.


Video Example(s):


Birdie's Problem Area

After Birdie is brought to the royal chef by King Murray's knights during the McDonaldland gang's trip in the middle ages, the chef points out how good and plump she is.

Birdie takes exception to the remark and insists that the chef is just focusing on her problem area.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / IAmBigBoned

Media sources: