After dyeing his hair pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month last October, 8-year-old Jacob Shelsy wanted to do it again. So on July 6, his big sister Courtney promised to take him to get his hair dyed if he went with her to get her annual car inspection at a garage in Pittsfield, Mass.
However, the garage attendant had a problem with Jacob’s pink hair and chose to insult and make fun of the little boy, whom Courtney describes as “the sweetest, most genuine kid I have ever met.” Courtney posted about the incident on her Facebook page, and the post now has nearly 1,000 comments and has been shared more than 1,400 times.
“After my car was done, all the man had to do was ask for my payment and return my keys,” she wrote. “But instead he turned to Jacob and rubbed his newly pink dyed hair and told him that wasn’t okay, that’s what girls do and he guesses ‘some types of guys’ (with a noticeable eye roll). I quickly handed him the money and grabbed Jacob’s arm to head to the car. But instead of letting us leave he followed us outside and proceeded to yell, ‘Bye Mary! Have a great day Mary!’ at Jacob.”
Courtney added, “What kind of grown man says something like that to an 8-year-old who has behaved and sat patiently waiting for him to finish his work?”
Immediately after, she took Jacob out for frozen yogurt and talked with him about what had happened. Although she was upset, Jacob seemed unfazed by the man’s remarks. “He just smiled and let the man say what he wanted,” Courtney shares with Yahoo Beauty. “It wasn’t until we got to the froyo shop that he told me it was OK because people always say that stuff. He truly just believes in being himself and supporting others and not allowing the beliefs of others to discourage him.”
Many people commented on Courtney’s post, showing their support for Jacob and his pink hair. Some shared photos of their own kids with dyed hair. Facebook user Trinity Rae commented that she has been coloring her hair various shades for years. “I started dyeing my hair blue and pink and all sorts of colors in the 4th grade,” she wrote. “My mom was scrutinized for it and kids always gave me a hard time but I didn’t care. I kept dyeing my hair every color of the rainbow and shaving it off for different styles up until last year and I’m now a senior in high school. I surely hope Jacob continues to do what he loves and I personally think pink looks great on him! Sounds like a smart young man. Keep being positive and doing you Jacob! ”
Echoing the sentiments of many, commenter Lizzie Gee simply wrote, “Jacob, I love your hair. Don’t let this guy drag you down. You are beautiful just the way you are.”
Courtney’s viral Facebook post eventually reached Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby, who was moved by the story and felt compelled to do something, according to WYNT.com. Derby contacted a model friend of his to brainstorm ideas on finding a celebrity who could reach out to and encourage Jacob. According to the news outlet, the model, Phil Sullivan, suggested Kelly Osbourne — known for coloring her hair a range of bright hues.
Osbourne ended up doing a Skype call with Jacob. “Upon hearing everything Jacob went through it not only broke my heart but resonated so deeply with me,” Osbourne wrote on her Facebook page. “It’s no secret I am faced with the same discrimination due to my hair every single day!”
She added, “Jacob is eight years old; he has been deeply hurt by people’s words and reactions to his hair. He genuinely doesn’t understand what the problem is as he only wanted to help people by dying it pink. In honor of Jacob’s bravery and huge heart, I wanted to meet him via Skype. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.”
Courtney tells Yahoo Beauty that the family is surrounded by kind people in their lives, so she wasn’t surprised by the positive responses to her post, but she was overwhelmed by the volume of positive comments from strangers. “It continues to amaze us how many people are sharing their stories and spreading the idea of acceptance,” she says.
She hopes that people who read about Jacob’s story will have more empathy for others. “I hope that people choose to be kind and accept others,” Courtney tells Yahoo Beauty. “That they realize how much it matters to just be nice to one another even if you disagree with a personal choice they’ve made.”
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