One out of every four students reports being bullied during the school year. A number that is likely much higher, as 64% of children who were bullied don’t report it. Ify Ufele, a 5th grader from Laurelton, Queens, found refuge in sewing after she was bullied in school for her body type. “I had to bring her to the doctor, we were thinking it was a stomach problem. But then when we realized it was the bullying, it took a tole on her physically, where she really didn’t want to go to school,” says her mother in a local news report for PIX11. This is not surprising, as students who experience bullying are twice as likely to experience negative health effects as non-bullied students. But Ulefe turned her misfortune into a strength, designing an entire line at home while juggling elementary school homework. “The name is Chubii Line. Not as in ‘you’re chubby’, chubby as in ‘you’re different,’” says 10-year-old Ufele of portfolio, which she designs, drafts and sews herself. Consisting of menswear, children’s, women’s and plus size, Ulefe’s vivacity for fashion celebrates all body types—the thing that she was bullied for in school. Her line debuted at Fashion Week, featuring sleek charcoal suits, daywear with bright prints, and conscientious plus size clothing designed with stretchy fabric.
In the United States, 55% of bullying is based on looks, 37% on body shape, and 16% on race. Though Ufele’s story is one of success, her mother elaborates that there is much to be done to create a safe space in schools. “This has been a long journey for her and we still have a long way to go. We want people to understand that it’s really not about the fashion, it’s about the bullying and the movement we’re sharing with a lot of individuals, especially our young people.” Chubii Line has ten pieces going on sale next week on her website, and be sure to check out her amazing styles below!