When I was a kid, religions other than Methodist were esoteric. Yeah, we knew plenty of Baptists and a few Catholics, even some Presbyterians, but past that? I ran with some guys who were Jewish, but there wasn't a temple in our part of the world. No Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, none of that.
This was back in the day when Jesus was a blue-eyed blond guy who looked like a beatnik.
My father brought a small statue back from the war and offered that it was Buddha. A little, bald, laughing fat man, that image, and for years that's what I thought of when I thought of Buddha.
Of course, it was a carving of a ho tai, which is kinda-sorta a buddha; because the term means "awakened one," and in a broad sense, any of us could become buddha.
As far as I can tell, the historical personage we refer to when we speak of the Buddha, aka Siddhartha Gautama, was never portly. He went through a phase studying with ascetics, and was certanly rail-thin, and there's no evidence that the Middle Way ever packed a lot of pounds on him. When you look at most of the statues, he still looks fairly thin. With big ears ...