The Duff is a film that follows the school’s outcast (well, sort of) as she grows and becomes comfortable in her own skin, thus gaining the respect she’s always wanted, an unexpected love and fixes her friendships. Sound familiar? I know, I know what you’re thinking, am I just describing every teen movie that’s come out in the past ten or so years?
Sounds like it, but really, I’m not.
While yes, this film does follow the similar trope of society’s ‘ugly duckling’ amongst all the pretty ducks, the difference is at the end, she doesn’t conform to become what everyone else wants. No, she accepts herself and flaunts it, she is comfortable in her skin and instead of impressing other people, or at least trying to, she plays on her strangeness and owns it – she doesn’t need labels or anyone else’s approval.
She has her own. And that’s what matters.
If I’m honest, Bella Thorne as the film’s mean girl was a little odd. I’m so used to seeing her in the programs my little brother used to watched on Disney Channel, but she managed to pull off the whole ‘popular, mean’ girl thing quite well. At school, I knew quite a few mean girls but I never took much notice of them. Popularity and fitting in was never something I worried about – I was more focused on getting to school on time with somewhat presentable hair, with half a piece of toast scoffed down for breakfast and on top of most of my work.
I knew girls who would wake up three hours earlier to do their makeup. I used to laugh and say that I just about got ready in time – all I had time for was brushing my teeth, showering and changing my clothes. I just about had breakfast, dabbed on some perfume or deodorant, whatever was near at hand and brushed my unruly hair. If anything, I spent most of my morning time reading.
I had my friends (some of whom, I’m still super close to) and that’s what mattered to me. That and good grades, studying was always stressful no matter how old I was. I probably actually cared about the things you’re supposed to at school, more so than the girls or guys who everyone fawned over.
Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell play the leading characters, two friends that were once close, now friend-enemies, team together to help one another out. She helps him study and he helps her become less of a ‘duff’ – apparently a term that means designated, ugly, fat friend. At first, she tries to change herself, to become something she’s not, to gain the attention of the guy she likes, of course that’s useless and she decides that it’s pointless.
If the person she was crushing over couldn’t accept her how she was, then he wasn’t the guy for her.
In a somewhat cliché but nice way, it turns out that Robbie Amell’s character, Wesley is that guy – he may help her change but in the end, she sees and so does he, that being her weird, eccentric, awkward self was better.
And honestly, feeling comfortable in your own skin is far more attractive than changing yourself to fit in. You don’t need anyone’s approval.
You only need your own.