LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — After being teased by a grown man about the color of his hair, 8-year-old Jacob Shelsy received support and encouragement from none other than Kelly Osbourne.
Jacob had died his hair pink and cut it into a mohawk for breast cancer awareness. Last week, he was with his older sister at a Pittsfield car repair shop for some work to be done on her vehicle.
But there, the mechanic allegedly teased Jacob because of his hair and taunted him by calling him "Mary" on the way out.
"After my car was done, all the man had to do was ask for my payment and return my keys. 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 Shelsy wrote on Facebook.
"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? We immediately went to Ayelada to distract ourselves from the negativity where he said to me, 'it's OK Courtney, lots of people say that stuff.' It's heartbreaking to me that at such a young age he has encountered such rudeness and disrespect."
Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby heard that story he wasn't going to stand for that type of treatment. Derby has became a public figure with a page on Facebook to share and document his community policing activities and used it to share Jacob's story.
"We do not in anyway want to spread or condone ill will towards anyone involved but rather spread awareness about being true to yourself and also focus on others out there like Jacob who have a fear of what others may say or how they react to their appearances. Any ill comments or comments made against any party involved will be deleted and are not welcome. This is NOT about them but rather those who dare to be themselves in this world we live in," Derby wrote.
"I am sharing this story because Jacob, like so many others we know, are bullied and or told they shouldn't be who they truly are."
But, he didn't just share his story, he had reached out to find somebody who knows a thing or two about fashion.
He first contacted fellow Lanesborough native Phil Sullivan. Sullivan is a professional model who appeared on America's Next Top Model in 2013. Through his connections, Jacob's story was shared with someone else who has donned the non-traditional hairstyles in her career — Kelly Osbourne.
On Friday, the singer, model, and actress Skyped with Jacob and his family, letting him know that he's supported and not to stand for discrimination. She told him she thought he was brave and incredible he was for "staying true" to himself and shared her own stories of being bullied.
"Upon hearing everything Jacob went through It not only broke my heart but resonated so deeply with me. It's no secret I am faced with the same discrimination due to my hair every single day! 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," Osbourne wrote.
"In honor of Jacobs bravery and huge heart I wanted to meet him via Skype. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Jacob is The most incredible 8-year-old boy I have ever met all you have to do is watch the video below to see for yourself. Thank you Jacob for being so brave and allowing me to share your story with the world."
Osbourne chatted with the youth for more than a half hour and later shared some of the conversation on her Facebook page. That has had more 2,500 shares and hundreds of comments.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.