Bad Hair Day
She had never experienced anything like this before. She was so embarrassed. And the boy had just made things worse.
Now everyone was staring at her and her hair. The nurse screamed for someone to fetch help. The principal rushed to call her dad, explaining that he’d never anything like this before. Oh my gosh, she thought, was it really that bad?
Hannah Combs was just an ordinary teen, enjoying life in Harker Heights, Texas – a town where everyone knew each other. She was 15 and looking forward to starting school after the summer vacation.
Other kids had cautioned her that high school could be tough and that her school, in particular, had a culture of bullying freshmen. But Hannah wasn’t worried. She was a people’s person – surely everyone would love her?
Boys On Her Mind
All summer long, Hannah had been dreaming about her first romantic encounter with a boy. She couldn’t wait for that magical first kiss! But she knew how teen boys could be.
They could think she’s too plain, or nerdy, or find something to poke fun at. Just a week ago, one of her friends had related how a girl at her school had been mercilessly teased for having lice. However, Hannah thought she could handle anything.
Blondes Have More Fun
She wanted to do something to get the guys’ attention. She thought her hair was her best feature; indeed, it was the only thing she liked about herself... if she was honest.
After bingeing on old Marilyn Monroe movies during the summer, Hannah decided to get blonde highlights. The hairstylist seemed to agree that it was a great idea. She even gave Hannah some tips on keeping her locks healthy and advice for dealing with the recent ‘super lice’ outbreak.
In the week before school would begin, Hannah kept admiring her hair in the mirror – and she felt awesome! Even her best friend Betsy said she looked amazing. The boys wouldn’t know what hit them!
She spent the whole week getting her outfits ready, checking which clothes would best set off her new hair color. Nothing was going to spoil the first days of her freshman year.
Two weeks went by without a hitch – but also without any attention from the guys. There was just no excitement to write home about.
Hannah and Betsy walked up and down the corridors during break time, scoping out any ‘hopefuls’. It was probably too early to expect something to happen, she thought.
The two girls were standing and chatting outside the school one day, when suddenly some rat-faced boy came up behind them and completely messed up Hannah’s hair. “Ewww, gross!” he shouted and laughed out loud. “Bet you think you look great now, loser!”
What had that been all about? Who would do something like that? Why had the guy been so mean? Hannah tried to hold back the tears, but soon it just hurt too much.
Beautiful No More
By then, everyone around them was beginning to stare and point at Hannah. Was her hair that bad? She’d made such an effort to make it beautiful, and now this! She asked Betsy to have a look. “You’ll have to go to the school nurse – now!”
Hannah thought her scalp was beginning to feel strange, so she agreed to see the nurse. On the way there, Betsy kept telling her not to touch her hair. Why was this happening?
As Hannah entered the nurse’s office, she was taken aback at the nurse’s reaction. “Come here, darling. Just sit down. Everything’s going to be fine. We’ll sort it out.” Now Hannah was beginning to get scared.
The nurse shouted at Betsy to fetch the principal. When he arrived, he immediately knew he’d have to phone Hannah’s parents. He’d never seen such a sight before.
When Hannah’s dad Christian arrived, he was furious. He saw his daughter sitting there with tears streaming down her face and looked at everyone in the room, absolutely incredulous.
He was an ex-soldier, and he wasn't going to stand for this. The more he looked at Hannah, the more his blood began to boil. Whoever did this was going to pay.
Christian demanded to know what was going on, but Hannah couldn’t even stop crying long enough to speak.
She wasn’t just sad about her head, but also disappointed that she had been so boy-crazy and even gone so far as to change her hairstyle. She should’ve known how immature and mean the boys her age were. She was mortified.
Christian, who was becoming angrier by the minute, began to yell. Who was responsible for this? And why hadn't they taken his daughter to the hospital yet?
"I'm calling 911," Christian threatened, but he was met with a terse “take that attitude elsewhere” from the principal's assistant. He glared back at her in disbelief. Now, it was war.
After her dad had taken Hannah to the emergency ward, he called the media. It was unbelievable to him that the school refused to reprimand the bully. He demanded that the Killeen Independent School District Police file assault charges.
But that was just the beginning.
Soon, word had spread and concerned parents and neighbors demanded the school take the matter further, and after that, the boy was conspicuously absent from school. But what about Hannah?
What would become of her and how bad was her injury?
Burning With Rage
In urgent care at the hospital, the doctor examined Hannah’s head and discovered she had first-degree chemical burns to her scalp from the high-strength super glue the boy had poured onto her hair.
But that wasn’t all that would be found on Hannah’s scalp.
Poor Hannah was in such pain. Her new hairdo was ruined, and she had saved up for so long for it. Now she probably had to cut it all off.
And it was all thanks to a mean teenage boy who thought bullying was funny. And that wasn't all he did, as Hannah would find out later.
Losing Her Hair
Hannah had a portion of her head shaved. She couldn’t believe she’d had to lose one of the most favorite parts of herself – her gorgeous hair. But she resolved to make the best of the situation.
It was a mindset she’d need to maintain to deal with what was waiting for her just around the corner.
Weeks later, even though the burns had mostly healed, sometimes it still felt like her head was crawling with millions of little creatures.
Assuming the sensation was just her skin healing, she booked an appointment with her hairdresser to see if there was any way to salvage her once-beautiful locks.
The hairdresser began combing Hannah's hair, as Hannah hadn't been able to do it herself for weeks. But when the hairdresser began to pull, there was that strange, crawling sensation again. Hannah yelled for her to stop.
The hairdresser froze, wondering what on earth had gotten into her. She looked closer.
"Okay... let's take a look here," the hairdresser said, soothingly. She knew about Hannah's story and wanted to make sure that she wasn't hurting her.
She patted her gently on the shoulder before pulling her fingers delicately through her hair, parting them. She took a closer look, then she screeched.
Crawling With Them
"Oh my gosh!" The hairdresser cried. Hannah's scalp was crawling! When Hannah learned what she'd found, she was so embarrassed.
Even worse, her mortifying moment was all caught on the hairdresser's CCTV camera. She wouldn't share it with anyone, would she?
Hannah was mortified. "Nobody can know about this", she pleaded with the hairdresser as tears began to form.
The hairdresser found lice in Hannah's hair -- the boy had not only poured an entire tube of superglue on her head, he had also leaned in close enough to transfer the lice on purpose.
It had taken the nits a few weeks to hatch, and that explained the crawling sensation that Hannah had been feeling. The hairdresser would have to treat Hannah's scalp with a powerful insecticide to get rid of the lice. But things got even worse from there.
To make matters worse, she had been infested with 'super lice,' a mutated and chemical-resistant version of common lice that can’t be killed by over the counter drugs like RID. And then, Hannah got some more bad news.
Due to the chemical burns Hannah had sustained, the hairdresser wouldn't be able to treat the infestation with the medicated shampoo until her scalp had fully healed -- she didn't want to risk irritating the skin even more.
So, Hannah would just have to live with the lice for now. Naturally, Hannah was revolted and mortified. But mostly, she wanted revenge.
When her scalp had healed enough and she could finally treat the lice, she made another appointment with her hairdresser. She decided to dye her hair red.
Not only did she love the color, but she also wanted it to represent the deep anger she felt. She was still planning to make that bully pay.
Hannah wasn’t going to do it for herself. She wanted to take a stand for every kid out there who had experienced bullying. Bullies shouldn’t be getting away with their actions.
Her mother and father supported her all the way. They started a Facebook community called “Justice For Hannah”, to draw attention to the scourge of bullying. For too long it had been a problem at schools, and they were going to do something about it.
Hannah began sharing pictures and details of her ordeal. She also revealed that nothing had been done by the school to hold the bully accountable. Over the coming days and weeks, support poured in.
Through the Facebook page, she was also able to get enough followers to sign a petition to get the school authorities to make the bully apologize publicly for what he had done. It also called for his suspension and compensation for Hannah’s hospital bills.
Making A Difference
“I want to make a difference. I would like people to stand up for themselves. No one deserves to be bullied—it’s not fair for anyone,” Hannah said.
“I’m just a normal kid with strong beliefs. When it comes to bullying, I stand up for people a lot because of it—but it’s worth it.”
He Wouldn't Win
While that horrible boy had ruined the hair that she had loved so much and had purposefully given her lice, Hannah was determined not to let it affect her confidence. He simply wasn’t going to win, she told herself.
“Bullying is wrong,” Hannah wrote on the Justice for Hannah Facebook page. “Sometimes it’s the bully that really needs the help… maybe this has made him see that he has been doing things the wrong way.”
Although some suggested Hannah’s parents pull her out of school, her father believed the bully should have to transfer. “I’m not going to pull my daughter out and uproot her from her life because of what this kid did to her,” Christian said.
“That child that did this to her, uproot his life. He gave up the opportunity to go to Harker Heights when he committed the act.” Then, the school began to take the backlash seriously.
In front of the entire school and parent body, the boy was made to apologize to Hannah. He added that he really liked her, and only did what he did because he hadn’t known how to express his feelings for her.
“Well, if that's how you express your feelings then I think you have some serious growing up to do,” was Hannah’s reply, and walked off the stage to loud applause.