Lessons On Life And Love I Learned From ‘The DUFF’

Arguably the best rom com of 2015, The DUFF is still teaching lessons almost a decade later.

We all love a good teen romantic comedy, right? Even when you’re well past your teen years, there’s something so sweet about the first loves that happen on the big (or little) screen. One of my all-time favorites is the sweet and silly The DUFF. Starring Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell, it follows teen Bianca Piper as she learns that she’s the “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” of her friend group. She asks friend and lifelong next door neighbor Wesley Rush to help her become not so much of a disaster–and the result still leaves me with a big dumb smile on my face as the final credits roll. But just because it’s a teen rom-com doesn’t mean I can’t still get a lot out of The DUFF as an adult. There are some life lessons that are just universal like that.

People can be terrible.

It’s wild that there’s even an acronym for a DUFF. “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” is ridiculous, and is just the kind of mean girl stuff a bunch of teens would come up with. While The DUFF ultimately has the moral that everyone’s a DUFF, maybe the better idea is that no one is? Rather than being dicks to each other, lets just mind our own business. This is also proof that there’s always going to be someone out there who doesn’t like you. Why would you want to pay mental energy to someone with such bad taste?

You aren’t defined by the way you look.

One of the main ways that Bianca Piper is a supposed DUFF is not because she’s actually fat–it’s said right in the movie that she isn’t. Instead, it’s that she’s the frumpy, poorly dressed one and her two best friends are basically walking supermodels. As you grow up and get older, you realize that what you wear doesn’t matter nearly as much as you thought. When you go out, whether it’s to the grocery store or a club, people are way more interested in what they look like than what you look like. It’s more about the content of your character, which is a lesson Bianca and Wes learn in the end.

Nothing’s better than a core group of amazing friends.

It takes nearly the entire movie for Bianca to stop blaming her friends Jess and Casey for the whole DUFF moniker. They didn’t call her that, and they love her just the way she is. When you have friends like that–the ones who stick with you in hard times as well as good, who stop by with a pizza and a listening ear when you don’t want to go out–are the real MVPs. Cherish those friendships, because they’re amazing and rare.

Find the people who like you for who you are.

We already know friends Jess and Casey love Bianca as she is. Great! But the big climax of the movie is when Bianca realizes that she needs to be herself and that Wesley loves her that way anyway. He likes her monster voice, her love of B-horror, and her alternative fashion sense. I know it can be easy to think that if you just change a few things about yourself, you’ll find the one. Stop! Wait for the people who will like all of those weird quirks that make you you.

You can always become a better version of yourself.


Although the movie shows that being yourself is the best choice, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve. Working to better yourself is a great way to feel better about who you are. In the end, Bianca is more confident and is taking better care of herself. What more could your really want?

What happens in high school doesn’t matter in the end.

Although Bella Thorne’s character, Madison, puts a lot of stock in the high school experience, Bianca’s final speech at the school dance is all about how high school stuff really doesn’t matter. It seems so huge when you’re in it. Everything is the end of the world, the biggest deal. Then you become an adult and forget all about the bullshit you went through when you were 16. And that’s a good thing. High school doesn’t matter, so don’t worry about it.

You may have already met your Wesley Rush.


There’s a lot to like about The DUFF, but my heart ultimately melts for the love between Bianca and Wes. He loves her for who she is, and goes for it in the end when it matters the most. She had him all along and just didn’t know it. Maybe you have a Wesley Rush of your own. Here’s your wakeup call. Now go for it!

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