When a depressed teenage girl entered her local hair salon, she felt completely worthless.
She had an illness that was so severe that she’d given up on brushing her long hair. But after her hairdresser had spent two days transforming her matted mane, she’d found a reason to smile again.
The stylist who helped turn the teen’s hair around was Kayley Olsson, who lives in Waterloo, Iowa.
The 20-year-old was a student hairdresser at the city’s Capri College beauty school at the time. And her work not only allowed Kayley to transform her clients but also to get to know those in her salon chair.
It was August 2017, when Kayley met a client who she would never forget. She was a 16-year-old girl.
And when she walked into the salon, the trainee stylist couldn’t help but notice her exceedingly matted hair.
The teen opened up about her tragic story after Kayley offered her a seat in the salon chair and they began chatting.
She explained that following her parents’ divorce a few years prior, she had fallen into a spiral of depression.
Her Entire Life
Her depression was so bad that it took over her entire life. “She started explaining to me how she feels and told me how she used to be involved in so many sports – every sport you could play,” Kayley told CBS News in August 2017.
“But in the last two years, mental health just took over.”
The illness caused the girl to give up on her appearance completely.
Indeed, because she felt so worthless, she stopped brushing her hair altogether. In the depths of her depression, she would only move to use the bathroom.
Broke Her Heart
Hearing her client’s story broke Kayley’s heart. She had also suffered depression before. She empathized with the teenager’s feelings of worthlessness. Fortunately, though, things were looking up for the girl; for instance, she now felt well enough to return to high school.
But there was just one problem: she would need her picture taken for the new term. And that meant attending to the knotted mass of hair attached to her head. Convinced there was no hope for it, however, she simply told Kayley to “just shave it.”
Try My Hardest
Kayley, however, had other ideas. She told CBS News that, instead, she turned to the girl and said,
“We’re going to try as much as we can without having to use the clippers. I can’t promise anything, but I’m going to try my hardest to keep the length of hair that you want.”
Her client, though, said that she didn’t think she could bear the pain of having it all combed out, and once again she described herself as “worthless.”
But Kayley reassured her that she’d do her very best to leave her with hair of which she could be proud.
Slowly, the hairdresser started to untangle the knots. In fact, that day Kayley spent eight hours patiently and painstakingly combing out the tangles.
She didn’t rush in order to be as gentle as possible. But, the job was nowhere near done at the end of the long shift. Kayley asked the teen to return to the salon the following day.
And the next day, the hairdresser continued to comb out her client’s hair.
It took another five hours, to get them to the point where she could work with them. Now, she was finally able to put down her comb and lead the teen over to the basin.
Wash And Cut
After washing her hair, Kayley returned the girl to her chair and began styling her now-silky mane. She trimmed it to a stylish shoulder-length cut and finished the look off by curling the ends. Finally, after 13 hours of work, the hairdresser had achieved her goal.
She had, amazingly, saved most of the teen’s hair and completely transformed her look. Now, all she had to do was ask for her client’s opinion.
But the girl didn’t even have to say anything for Kayley to know that she’d done a great job. As she looked at herself in the mirror, a smile began to spread across her face.
“I will actually smile for my school’s pictures today,” she told Kayley. “You made me feel like me again.”
Before And After
The whole experience moved Kayley so much that she later shared the teen’s story online. In her account of the tale, she kept the schoolgirl’s identity hidden but added the astounding before-and-after pictures.
However, the post was about much more than showing off Kayley’s hairdressing skills.
“Mental health is a thing,” Kayley wrote on Facebook. “It affects people all around the world and of all ages. Parents – take it seriously, 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.”