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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ode 2 The DUFF

I’m just gonna say it. I, Jaime A.C. Reed, (yes, I have two middle names) am going to marry Kody Keplinger. True, she’s about ten years younger than me. Okay, we live in completely different states and we only talk online. Fine, whatever, she’s a girl and we’re both straight. But I refuse to let the pipe dream die. As I told her before— during one of my many stalking adventures—that I must first procure a proper dowry before asking for her hand.


Why would I do such a thing, you ask? Because the girl is freaking AWESOME! Oh, and she wrote this book called The DUFF. (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) I’m not gonna go into the plot; I think the title pretty much sums it up. Although, I will say it’s a breath of fresh air for the literary asthmatic.

It’s not about the nerdy girl who gets a make-over and becomes prom queen. It’s not about the average chick who doesn’t think she’s pretty despite every boy in school wanting to sex her up. And it’s not about a spoiled rich girl turned emo. It’s right there in black and white: I’m ugly as sin AND I’m the star of the show.

I love it because girls like Bianca are always the BFF in the story, the shoulder to cry on, the slutty comic relief who secretly envies the main character. For most YA books, internalization never goes any further than that, and the reader never discovers why the girl behaves that way.

This should be an example to other writers. If you’re going to portray an average main character, then make her AVERAGE, or even coyote ugly. Give her REAL flaws that her peers can agree on, or make her appearance irrelevant to the point where she is completely invisible. That means that you might have to roll up your sleeves and apply personality to the character, which would make them attractive or at least endearing. Jane Eyre was a dawg, but her strong morals and personality made her lovable.

The reason I have a love hate relationship with YA is due to how un-relatable most female protagonists are. Seriously, how can I connect with a girl who thinks she’s ugly yet practically slips on the puddles of drool left by her male classmates? That’s just a neurotic attention whore fishing for compliments, if you ask me. Girls like that were cut in my high school or had acid thrown in their faces for less, so the coquettish act only makes you a moving target in the real world.

On a personal note, I, too was a DUFF back in school—well, a DFF. Guys said I had a pretty face, but everything from the neck-down was subject for debate. Plus, I was too damn tall. People only knew me as the friend of someone who was popular. Awkwardness ensued. The end.

Everyone had their underdog moments in high school, which is why this book offers truth to many. Some of that truth is painful, some of it is beautiful, some you don’t want to remember, and some you can’t forget.

So if you excuse me, I have to finish the last three chapters and buy a large engagement ring.

6 comments:

  1. "Jane Eyre was a dawg, but her strong morals and personality made her lovable."

    Am I allowed to say how much I heart you for this line??

    Thanks, Jaime!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really need to read an excerpt for this book before buying it. Everyone's saying it's great, but I've been burned too many times to just up and buy books based on "everyone's" assessment.

    However, there's no excerpt online.

    ReplyDelete
  3. But... but, if she's so ugly then why does the cover show a picture of such a cute girl? It makes me think the character isn't really ugly at all, but only insecure that she isn't drop dead gorgeous.

    I dunno.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @ Anonymous, yeah i was thinking the same thing. And when the movie comes out (I heard there's one in the works) we're probably going to see a really sexy, curvy, slightly fat, actress playing the book's protag lol so I'm not entirely buying the whole "omg! this is a book with an ugly girl getting a sexy guy and it hardly ever happens, thank god for duffy!" haha!

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Glen Akin and Anonymous,
    You both have a good point, but that has more to do with marketing than the content of the story. The masses cater to attractive people and that is what sells. Sad but true. Luckly, writing as a whole is not a visual media, physical appearance is open to interpretation by what is discribed and other characters reactions. The cover (as it should)is what grabs the attention, the story is what keeps it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I haven’t read it yet but hear nothing but good things about it. I can’t wait to read it.

    ReplyDelete

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