The DUFF's "Designated Ugly Fat Friend" Speaks Out

In the upcoming movie The Duff, Mae Whitman stars as Bianca, a girl who discovers that she's been branded the DUFF, or "Designated Ugly Fat Friend," by her peers. Mae is passionate about anti-bullying and the movie's collaboration with Mean Stinks, and we asked her to share her experiences with us in a recent interview.

Mae Whitman as Bianca opposite  Robbie Amell in The DUFF

On The Duff'script…

I was drawn to this role because I was bullied in high school, and because I've always sort of been seen as the "quirky" or "offbeat" best friend character type- and I think there is such a tendency to compare and judge ourselves and others, that I thought it would be great to celebrate the folks who've felt like misfits as I have- they are the most fabulous! 

I also wanted to communicate to kids that you are not alone if you are being bullied. The coolest, prettiest, smartest, funniest, most interesting people I know were all bullied or made to feel like less than at one point of another, so it was important for me to connect with people who have felt this way and maybe have them feel my support. 

On Mean Stinks…

I'm really excited about our partnership with Mean Stinks and hope that it shows everyone – even the people who feel like they have to be bullies – that they're better than that. I think that's the whole message of this thing…you don't need this mask of being a bully in order to be the wonderful person that you are under there. Trust yourself. Allow yourself to be who you are and put that out there. You're never going to be happy if you're constantly trying to be something that you're not because then you'll always end up in a place that doesn't feel natural to you.

To help communicate these messages, we're going to be streamed in to 1,000 schools across the country during Mean Stinks Biggest. Assembly. Ever. on Feb. 4th – which is incredible. The coolest thing about being part of the Mean Stinks assembly is that I get to tell kids that all of us – even people who are on a movie screen – went through this and can relate to the struggle of being bullied or made to feel like less than. 

Mae Whitman as Bianca in The DUFF

On Mean Stinks' Biggest. Assembly. Ever…

All I really know about it is that I am so excited to have a forum that feels direct and relatable with cool good kids from all over to have a frank and honest and loving discussion about feelings and insecurities and support and coping with the tough stuff- I am super excited to learn a lot and give whatever paltry advice I can!

On getting bullied…

I was bullied in high school. A lot of kids I know were for one reason or another. It was very alienating.  That's why I felt it was important for kids out there to know that you're absolutely not alone, and that we've all felt some form of it. That is why I'm excited to be working with mean stinks to open up a discussion and hopefully make a lot of people feel supported and understand where bullying can come from and how to deal with it from all different kinds of people. 

Last Words…

I really hope that people can see this movie and understand that I and everyone I know has been in a place where we are made to feel that our differences make us less, but that all stems from just fear and misunderstanding and people feeling threatened by your bright light- and the bravest most heroic people in all of time have been repressed but used those challenges to grow and become stronger and more true to who they really are. We can do it together!

Be sure to check out our interview with Bella Thorne in the related stories, and tune in to the Biggest. Assembly. Ever. on February 4. You can RSVP here. You can also share your favorite DUFF gossip and more with us at Sweety High.