Confessions of a Real Life DUFF


WORDS BY EMILY ZHENG / @XMILYZ

Image found here
DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. The girl who exists to make her friends look better by comparison. The approachable one. The person guys go to when trying to date her friends.

Yep, that's me.

Ever since the inception of the film The DUFF, about high-school senior and DUFF Bianca who seeks to reinvent herself, I have been painfully aware of my position on the social ladder. For the most part, I am comfortable with who I am. I may be dateless, but I've got a group of the best friends a girl could ever ask for. After a series of DUFF encounters over the past few months, though, I cracked.
      I'm out in public and a guy will tell my friend that she "has the most beautiful smile" he's ever seen. I'm getting a smoothie bowl and the employee will hit on my friend. I watch boys crush on my friends, as they merely tolerate my existence.

I was at a party yesterday with one of my friends Kate. She is a solid ten; she’s got that effortless bed-head look, with sultry eyes and a seemingly perfect complexion. She had to leave early, so I started talking to one of the guys there.
      Before tonight, he had been disengaged at best. He never seemed to care for what I had to say, except suddenly he took interest. When I brought up how I want to start a gang of girls who ask out guys, he agreed enthusiastically. When I talked about my love for getting to know people personally, he said, "I'm the same way too." When I ranted about how most high school guys are jerks, he commented, "Yeah, I agree. That's why I try to be respectful to girls."
      The entire night he was kissing his own ass, when he suddenly asked me for a favor that "revolves someone I know" and he "would prefer to talk to me about it later." I furrowed my eyebrows, lost as to what should have been completely transparent. Five minutes later, the girl next to me texted me, "The favor is probably about Kate."
      Everything clicked into place. Oh my god. She's so right, and I'm so naive.
      I practically dragged the guy out; I was seconds away from exploding. I demanded, "I know exactly what the favor is, and I'm going to be so mad when you tell me, but I need to hear it out of your mouth anyways." With a sly smile, he started, "Well, Kate’s really pretty…"
      This was the precise moment when I lost all sanity.
"I fucking knew it. I can't even believe you. Fuck you. Fuck you for making people feel like they’re the DUFF, like they’re disposable."
      I stormed to my car, and everything hit me all at once: I am nothing. I make it seem like people can tell me anything, and they think that it's some excuse to take advantage of me. I'll always be crass and sloppy and vulgar, and because of that, I make myself the DUFF. All I wanted was to believe for a second that someone would want to know me for who I am, and I cannot even be allowed that. This is the constant cycle: I get to know guys for who they actually are because I'm undateable and thus not worth impressing or I get to be the disposable DUFF.
      I felt so stupid. Here I am, honest about my feelings to just about everyone, but I will always be the crazy best friend, whose five minutes of fame are simply because she has no filter. Before this, I more-so joked about being the DUFF. I never took anything personally. But the moment I heard, "Kate's really pretty," it all came into focus: I am dispensable.
      I'm a fairly confident person. My bitter outbreak was the culmination of always being on the sidelines, of trying so hard to be my own distinct being but getting overshadowed. I may label myself an adventurous badass who chases her dreams like there's no tomorrow, but even I have my petty moments of insecurity.
      The silver lining to this story was the girl-love I received as a result. When I left the party, a girl followed me to see if I were okay. We hugged and she admitted how she totally understood my frustration.
      While I felt like the biggest loser ever, she confessed to me her similar feelings. "My friends tell me that I should start dressing differently or be more outgoing to get guys."
"Never," I replied. "You are so, so perfect as who you are right now."
      In that moment, I believed my very words. Yes, I may be the 'crazy' one who curses at inappropriate situations and wears heels to school, but that is exactly how I like myself. Yes, she may be more demure, with her soft voice and reserved composure, but that is exactly how I like her. Yes, we are "so, so perfect as who [we] are right now."
      When I called my friends, they empowered me to believe in myself once again. I spent midnight at In-N-Out exchanging stories about boys, loss, and friendship. I told Kate what happened and her support alone made being the DUFF almost worth it.
      Like Bianca said in the movie, "In the end, it isn't about popularity or even getting the guy. It's about understanding that no matter what label is thrown your way, only you can define yourself." I now understand exactly what she meant. I was the DUFF because I labeled myself as one. Most of the time, I call myself brave and worldly and capable, and I am all those things. I have the confidence to put my heart on the line over and over again, despite rejection. I am the president, secretary, treasurer, publicist, and only member of the gang of girl(s) I know who ask out guys. I am unafraid of judgment and I am worth way more than what a few people think of me.
      I am proud of who I am. I may not be a dime, but I love myself regardless.
      If you're reading this thinking, "I totally am the DUFF," I hope you ignore anyone who says you are worse than your friends. I hope you see past this trivial social construct created simply to make you feel lesser than who you are.
      My fellow DUFFs, give them hell.

Name changed for privacy reasons.

Disclaimer: I totally recognize that the guy didn't have negative intentions; before I left the party, I told him, "Just letting you know but I'm not personally mad at you  I know you weren't trying to be an asshole."

4 comments:

  1. Love it!! My whole high school experience was just like this. I totally relate.
    xx Alyssa

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  2. Thank you so much Alyssa! Your kind words are definitely appreciated.

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  3. i really love your writing style and enjoyed reading the article. ;)

    ReplyDelete