Hairdresser Refuses to Shave Depressed Girl's Head

Image via Kayley Olsson on Facebook.
Image via Kayley Olsson on Facebook.

This week in empathy: hairdresser Kayley Olsson of the Iowa cosmetology school Capri Waterloo shared a story on Facebook of a 16-year-old girl who, she wrote, was too depressed to brush her hair. When asked to cut it all off in order to spare her the pain of preparing for school picture day, Olsson wrote that she instead spent thirteen hours un-matting the tangle and converting it into ringlets. At this writing, the post now has over 117,000 likes:

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Here’s the text in full.

Today I had one of the hardest experiences with my client who I am keeping anonymous, I had a 16 year girl come in with who has been dealing with severe depression for a few years now. She got to the point where she felt so down and so worthless she couldn’t even brush her hair, she told me she only got up to use the restroom. She starts back at school in a few weeks but she has her school pictures today. When she walked in she told us just cut it all off I can’t deal with the pain of combing it out, she called herself worthless for it. It honestly broke my heart and we tried everything we could to keep this child’s hair for her! At the end of the day I want this to be a lesson to people. MENTAL HEALTH is a thing, it effects people all around the world and of all ages! PARENTS take it serious don’t just push your kids off and tell them to get over something they legitimately can’t. A CHILD should NEVER feel so worthless to not even want to brush their hair.

After being here 8 hours yesterday and 5 hours today we finally made this beautiful girl smile and feel like she IS worth something! Her last words to me was

“I will actually smile for my schools pictures today, you made me feel like me again” ❤️❤️

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And may this woman graduate from Capri Waterloo with all of the referrals in the world.

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

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notmyyacht

I’ve lived with pretty severe bipolar disorder I since I was 14 (diagnosed only at age 28, but the symptoms set in far, far earlier than that). I know the pain of being so depressed you can’t get out of bed for days at a time, so much that even the thought of showering is too exhausting to accomplish. I know how it feels to look at yourself in the mirror and feel so worthless that it seems pointless to even try to take care of yourself, because who cares about you anyway? I feel so much empathy in my heart for this girl.

I also work in the beauty industry, as a skincare consultant in a Fancy Makeup Store that has a black and white theme. So many people think that my job and the women who work there are self-involved or vain or that we’re going to judge them for their looks. And I hear a lot of judgment from people who think that the beauty industry is all about vanity in general. But I cannot tell you the number of women (and men, for that matter) who come into our store with exactly the kind of feelings this girl has - whether it’s chronic or acute, from a mental illness or simply a personal trauma - and a lot of the time, they actually apologize for their appearance. “I must look horrible.” “I’m so sorry, my face is so terrible right now.” “I know, this is going to be so hard for you to fix, it’s just been so hard for me to care about myself since my divorce...”

And you know what? These are the clients I love helping the most. There is nothing, nothing in the world, that I would rather do than help these clients feel even a little more human, a little more cared for. I go out of my way to pamper them, whether it’s complimenting their haircut or giving them a quick mini-facial or even just making them a sample of a face mask that they can take home and pamper themselves with. I want every client to feel beautiful, but especially those who haven’t felt that way in a long time and who don’t even feel up to trying. My job isn’t about me, really. It’s not even my main source of income. I do this job because I truly love helping clients exactly like this woman’s client - the clients who just need a little love to help them move forward again.