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Feminism in The 'The Duff' and 'Mean Girls' Movies

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Feminism is basically the belief that men and women must have equal rights and feminist theory is the extension of feminism which further aims to understand the nature of gender inequality. Gender inequality acknowledges the differentiation between men and women and also how it influences an individual’s life experiences as well as others. A relationship between male and female, both the genders should have equal opportunities because we all deserve this world equally. Equal in many ways, education, responsibilities, trust each other, respect one another and of course, love each and everyone equally. 

In Mark Waters’ production on Mean Girls, he has specifically focused on how to stay true to yourself and not succumbing to the pressures of the popularity which teaches the teenage girls to incorporate feminism. The main character Cady Heron from the home-schooled, who comes from Africa to America joins the “real” school where she instantly makes two friends, Janis and Damian, who are nice to her and also considered in the “out crowd” at school. After she meets ‘The Plastics’, a group of three popular girls where Regina is the leader of her two friends, Karen and Gretchen. 

Whereas, in the film, “The Duff”, directed by Ari Sandel where he introduced a trio of longtime best friends, Bianca, Jess, and Casey. Bianca was later known as ‘The Duff’, designated ugly fat friend, which is basically the approachable, unnoticeable, schlumpy gatekeeper to her otherwise beautiful friends. Her two friends never thought of her as the duff but she was labeled as the duff by her other classmates mostly Madison. Perhaps, Mean Girls seems to have more feminist aims and an accurate representation of women even though it spreads similar aims as The Duff that how women are treated in the society. 

I chose to compare these two texts as they both apply to Feminist theory and my argument of just being who you are and not change yourself for somebody else. The main idea of both films seemed to me as something to do with personality as women attracting men by thinking that men are only attracted to women because of their physical appearance. As relating to the generation we are living right now seems to relate to this because the teenage girls still believe that men are only attracted to you by your body, which in some way is true but not completely. I say this, not completely because even though men are attracted to you by your beauty, they will definitely change their opinion after getting older as they will get to know what real beauty is which is the heart and not looks. 

Starting with Mean Girls, Cady, the main protagonist of the story who was famous because of her talent at math, tends to change after some time. So at first, she used to believe that beauty isn’t everything. And when later she found that it is everything in order to attract her crush, Toby. Cady knew her incredible talent at math, yet she fails her tests purposely in order to get closer to Aaron. This was an interesting idea of women changing themselves just to attract the opposite gender which seemed so dumb to me. Why should women change themselves to get a guy? Why Cady did not realize that she could’ve even impress Aaron by her talent at math even though she was a feminist? Later in the film, Aaron did mention that he was more into people’s talent rather than their personality and that was the part where Cady realized she was ruining her life. The reason behind Cady changing herself in some way was the group, “The Plastics” where Regina, Gretchen, and Karen were known for their popularity and beauty. I think the trio of this group is named as ‘The Plastics’ is because they are fake as the plastic materials. The plastic materials are quite impressing at first but when we get to know that it doesn’t stay longer, we stop caring about it and leave it behind. I got this idea at the start of the film when the three girls were introduced as The Plastics. When Cady was later found as Regina meaning a part of “The Plastics”, people left her behind. Her two good friends, Janis and Damian, and Ms. Norbury who once told her, “Cady, I know that having a boyfriend might seem like the only thing important right now, but you don’t have to dumb yourself down in order for a guy to like you.” Cady didn’t bother about her teacher’s words and later was ignored by each and everyone at her school as they were all upset with Cady’s behaviour because she was changing herself to gain the attention of others, mostly Aaron which seemed stupid to Aaron as well. He was focused on the inner being rather than one’s external appearance or physical attributes which was Mark Waters’ intention. The depiction of the person with disability and Aaron seemed commendable in the movie as the disabled people. 

The idea of women changing themselves to impress someone else was shown in a different manner in the film, “The Duff”, where Ari Sandel portrayed the similar idea by the use of the main character, Bianca. She was a brilliant student too, just like Cady but when she came she was the ‘The Duff’, she thought that she should change herself and maybe that’s the reason why Toby, her crush doesn’t really get closer to her. Later when she finds out that Toby was close to her so that he can talk to her two other friends, Jess and Casey. Ari Sandel purposely twisted the story this way to showcase that most males depicted on the television, mainly focuses on woman’s physical look, and the viewers might not realize that the external appearance isn’t what is important. This reinforces the idea that women shouldn’t change themselves to get a guy. If the guy is really impressed with you in any way, he will come back to you someday just like how Aaron comes back to Cady in the end and Wesley gets back to Bianca. Both the male characters liked the female protagonists because of who they really are. This supports my hypothesis that both films send a similar message that we can apply to our life at any stage and anywhere of being who you are and not to change yourself to attract others. Sandel’s and Waters’ purpose of developing this idea is really effective because teenagers do think that personality is everything, and these part of the films would have definitely changed the point of view of many women and men. 

Another idea that Waters and Sandel both explored through their films was the purpose of women feeling unease with their personality in America. This emphasized how women were treated in the years between 2004 when Mean Girls was released till 2015 when The Duff was released. So obviously, this issue is still not completely resolved. Both directors produced their texts in America which clearly portrayed to teenagers in America that it is necessary to point out flaws with your friends and make them change themselves. For example, in the scene where The Plastics lists their flaws and Cady who was new to the gang watch them saying, “My hips are huge.” “I’ve got man shoulders.” “My hairline is so weird.” “My pores are huge.” And at this moment, Cady didn’t realize that she was the only one who had no concern with the way she was. And when The Plastics turn around and gaze at her, she suddenly says, “I usually have bad breath in the morning.” This shows how she expressed her weakness and thought she is now a part of the group which shows the audience how young women in America feel or make themselves feel like when they are around someone new. And by doing this once, they get used to pointing out their flaws which are good when you express and feel better but is also bad when you express and make yourself feel more ugly. I mean, beauty isn’t everything, and a lot of women need to understand this. 

In a general way, we often see women waking up earlier in the morning than men. And they do this to get well dressed and look pretty. Men never actually make themselves look someone that isn’t. So why should women make themselves look like someone that they don’t think they are? If that fair for men that they are not attractive so shouldn’t that be equal to women? We usually see that men tell the girl that he likes her, and the girl thinks that if he likes her, she will like him as well because of he like her. Why men choose their partner and women just go out with who proposed them? Why don’t women choose their partner and men go out with the girl? This is a case but seldom. And this was expanded in The Duff where Bianca has a crush on Toby and he refuses to accept her because she wasn’t the girl who always take care of herself. And in the Mean Girls, Cady likes Aaron but he didn’t like her because Cady seemed to him the girl who just think her looks matter. 

The idea of women representation in both of these texts was different and made me realize that how men think of women. It is also a matter of fate which comes under cultural manner that someone who is for you will be for you, and someone who isn’t for you and comes in your life will step out of it someday because you aren’t made for them. This seemed to me as a feminist issue because the two directors arise the idea of how young women think of themselves in America. This is still the issue in other countries but the directors chose America which portrays the reality of America being on the top list of gender stereotypes and representation. After getting married, men are labeled as Mr. and women are labeled and Mrs. which is completely unequal. Why aren’t women labeled as Miss. Or why men haven’t labeled something else that represents he is married which will surely be equal to both genders.? This is why I think feminism is still not completely solved. 

Being a young woman I believe that even though the feminist issue has been achieved, it’s still not completely achieved. There are still some gender inequalities across the world that should come to an end. A lot of men doesn’t say themselves as a feminist because they probably think it’s embarrassing which is absolutely stupid. Also, women don’t like to represent themselves as a feminist because they either think that we have gained feminist issue or just don’t care. Being a woman means a lot of things. Not in a negative way, but in a positive way. Like women getting their own rights, not being compared to men and treat each other equally, which completely makes sense, right? I believe that we all need to work together and let equality flow around ourselves everywhere. The reason I chose to do feminism as my theory is because I believe that there are other theories like race theory that could be important however feminism is still a major issue which seems hidden but is still alive throughout the world that needs to be fixed which can be solved if we work together and take it more seriously. 

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Feminism in the ‘The Duff’ and ‘Mean Girls’ Movies. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from
“Feminism in the ‘The Duff’ and ‘Mean Girls’ Movies.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
Feminism in the ‘The Duff’ and ‘Mean Girls’ Movies. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Jan. 2022].
Feminism in the ‘The Duff’ and ‘Mean Girls’ Movies [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2022 Jan 28]. Available from:
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