Kelechi Uchendu is a fashion entrepreneur turned published author. In the recent release of her heartfelt non-fiction book, Bully Friends, Kelechi touches on her personal encounter with childhood bullying and provides relevant advice to students, educators, and parents.
According to Pacer, 20.2% of students report being bullied in the form of name-calling, physical violence, insults, rumors, or cyberbullying. 70.1% of adolescents experience verbal and physical bullying due to their sexual orientation or gender expression, and over one-third of students report bullying due to race and skin color.
Kelechi is not only aware of this alarming statistic but can identify with it. The business owner experienced constant teasing and struggled to fit in throughout elementary and middle school. However, she recalls her high school bullying experiences to be the most harmful.
As a high school freshman, Kelechi faced offensive (and sometimes racist) comments from her peers. A group of girls and boys constantly mispronounced and made fun of her name, cyber-bullied her, and repeatedly gossiped about Kelechi behind her back. One of the girls that tormented Kelechi used racist and hateful language, calling her a ‘slave.’
While Kelechi’s battle with teasing, name-calling, and other forms of bullying and harassment ended with high-school, the damage had already been done. In fact, during high school, Kelechi struggled with suicidal thoughts and an eating disorder. Her mental health issues continued throughout college as she struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I remember my hair was falling out during ninth grade due to lack of nutrition and stress,” she said. “I was severely depressed, sleeping constantly, and needed professional help.”
The author expands more on her profound story in her book and continues to speak up about the mental and behavioral effects of childhood bullying. By sharing her journey, Kelechi hopes to show others who have suffered trauma due to bullying that they still have the chance to heal and thrive.
“Bullying is an epidemic. The age of children who commit suicide due to bullying seems to be getting younger and younger,” she said. “I always thought that I would be held captive by my PTSD and my past. But I’m living proof that you can end up being very successful even after being a victim of bullying.”
Kelechi Uchendu was not only able to overcome her personal battles but achieved immense success in entrepreneurship, business, and fashion. Kelechi is the founder and CEO of Kay’s Kay’s World LLC, a British Vogue-featured fashion brand, and has received overwhelmingly positive responses for her media and publications.
“I used to be so broken from my bullying experiences. Once I realized that I went through all of that pain to help other people, I became more than a conqueror.”
All forms of bullying can lead to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, decreased academic achievement, sleep discrepancies, and more. Sparking conversations on these harmful experiences is more crucial than ever.
Bully Friends digs deep into the dangers of childhood bullying and specifically touches on bullying within female friendships. The new publication is a resourceful tool for victims, parents of victims, teachers, and even those who have been the bully.
Ian Monroe is journalist, passionate about helping people and sharing his knowledge and tips with whomever he can reach. "Journalism is modern storytelling in its purest form. Stories are meant to be delivered to audience in such a way that it remains a part of them, forever."