So over the weekend, I was looking for a new book to read and stumbled over a title called “The Duff” by Kody Keplinger. DUFF stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend…. and this struck a chord with me.
Even though this was a YA novel that wouldn’t normally appeal to me at all, I wanted to read it based on the anagram alone.
You see, I was the DUFF. Of course, I didn’t know that phrase, so I used to just call myself “the hot chick’s friend”. You know, the one the guys would talk to in an attempt to get closer to the hot girls.
See, we had a group( I wouldn’t say clique because we had friends outside the group) but we were a group of four with different interests, different taste in boys and different backgrounds at home. What held us together? I could never pinpoint what it was that made us want to hang out and be bored together.
So the group had a girl who resembled Salma Hayek in her “Fools Rush In” days, a blonde version of Sandra Bullock and a pretty girl from PR who ended up on prom court. (See Lela, I corrected, not homecoming court) One was athletic and smart, one was so wholesome she could sell granola bars and the other one had even teachers tripping over her.
So where did this leave me? I had unruly hair that couldn’t be tamed, could never stop biting my nails, and a penchant for wearing boys clothing. I can count the number of boyfriends I had on one hand and the only one who didn’t cheat, was too old for me. We broke up amicably with no regrets but other than him… well boys were just one more thing I didn’t understand. I had plenty crushes and lots of guy friends but never got the guy, or any really. I was destined to be in the friend zone; I was the one they spilled their relationship secrets to, the one girl they didn’t have to watch their words in front of.
So then I got older and didn’t want to be invisible all the time. I learned to pluck my eyebrows correctly, manage the mop on my head, lose a little weight and buy clothing that fit me. …
and then what? My confidence still never extended outside my bedroom door.
It became obvious right away, I knew how to change my look but still didn’t know how to act. If I got asked on a date, I would say yes even if I didn’t like the guy, just because I had never been asked. It would be awkward because I wouldn’t be able to relax, I have never mastered the art of small talk. So instead, I learned to make the first move but only after guys that I was lukewarm about. I still couldn’t go after the ones I would like so much that it would crush me if they turned me down, I’d had enough of that. And I still got turned down, a lot. Even when our group of four moved to different parts of the country, I still managed to make friends with the hot girls. No matter where I went, I was the DUFF.
Don’t get me wrong, I did eventually get asked out by a very nice boy and we had a charming if nonconventional date that ended with eating ice cream in a Walgreens parking lot and a lot of laughing. Although he was younger than me and it was probably the best date I ever had, we never did go on another one. Destined to be friends I guess.
So now I’m older and wiser and still have seriously hot friends and these kinds of things don’t bother me anymore. I still go out in jeans and flannels, I just learned to have them fit better. I did manage one night to have a guy approach me and tell me he would like to buy me a drink. The bartender was already pouring me one and I told him thanks but I already had one. He leaned over and told me I was beautiful and he didn’t come across skeevy about it. He was good looking in a normal way, maybe a little overweight but with a friendly smile that showed off his dimples nicely. If I wasn’t with a completely awesome person, I think I would have kissed him. I know I was beaming when I thanked him. Having him tell me I was beautiful without trying to come on to me made my night. One, it never happens and two, it’s not the same as someone calling you hot and attempting to kiss you. It didn’t matter to me that the guy wasn’t “Romance novel” hot. He may have even been the “DUFF” of his group, but he did seem kind and decent and respectful and that mattered more than anything.
I can just say, I think most females, no matter who they or how they look has probably felt this way before. I know I looked at my friends and couldn’t stop comparing myself. It’s easy to seem flippant now because I have someone remarkable, but I don’t know if I could get back into the dating scene without a minor panic attack. I admire the courage it takes to put yourself out there and unfortunately, it doesn’t get easier with age.
The thing that does come with maturity (I was going to say age, but those words are not interchangeable) are people putting more emphasis on conversation, personality and growth. There is wonderful scene in a Doctor Who episode called “The Girl Who Waited” where Amy says:
“You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful and then you actually talk to them and five minutes later they’re as dull as a brick? Then there’s other people, when you meet them you think, “Not bad. They’re okay.” And then you get to know them and… and their face just sort of becomes them. Like their personality’s written all over it. And they just turn into something so beautiful.”
This definitely happens.
So screw being the DUFF. THIS HAPPENS. People are not beautiful for how they look, its all just siding…. I’m sure anyone who ever thought themselves the DUFF overlooks the flaws in others without a second thought, I know I did. I just wish I had done that for myself a long time ago.
Kody Keplingers book can be found here:
P.S. I can’t help it, everytime I type DUFF I think of this:
Duff, the beer that helps people sleep with the DUFFS.