Last Tuesday, Kayley Olsson, a hairdresser studying cosmetology at Capri College Waterloo in Waterloo, Iowa, had “one of the hardest experiences” she’s ever had to deal with.
The 20-year-old began her journey as a hair stylist only last year, but she’s already learned some of the most important lessons — one of which being how to show someone kindness.
Olsson took to Facebook to share the heartwarming story. On August 7, a 16-year-girl walked into to get her hair done for school pictures the following day. The problem, however, was that the girl’s hair seemed to be irrevocably tangled and matted to her head.
The girl, whose identity Olsson kept anonymous, revealed she was suffering from severe depression. She told Olsson that her depression was so debilitating that she “couldn’t even brush her hair” and “only got up to use the restroom.”
Defeated, she asked Olsson to just shave her head, knowing that detangling her hair would be impossible. Olsson wrote:
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!
Olsson, however, didn’t agree. The 20-year-old cosmetology student proceeded to spend 13 hours on the girl’s hair — eight hours that day and five hours the next.
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…
And just before the girl had to go and have her picture taken, Olssen finished, leaving the girl with beautiful curls and, most importantly, an even more beautiful smile. She wrote on Facebook:
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 were, ‘I will actually smile for my schools pictures today, you made me feel like me again.’
For Olsson, however, the story was bigger than just being able to make one girl smile again, rather it was to spread awareness of mental health. She wrote that mental health issues affect so many people, and everyone should be more cognizant of that fact:
At the end of the day I want this to be a lesson to people. MENTAL HEALTH is a thing, it effects [sic] people all around the world and of all ages!
She continued, warning all parents to listen to their children when it comes to these types of health issues:
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.
Although the girl’s clinical depression surely won’t be impacted by one kind gesture, the stigma around her illness — which can sometimes be the hardest part — was. And aside from a great, much-needed hairdo, that is worth smiling for.