Dad Cuts Off 13-Year-Old Daughter's Hair After Mom Gave Her Highlights For Her Birthday Without His Permission

Bodily autonomy is a birthright.

young girl with pixie haircut Cat Simpson / Shutterstock

Being a teenager means figuring out your place in the world, deciding who you are and how you want to be. Often, missteps and mistakes are made, all on the journey toward self-discovery and self-acceptance. Yet parents are supposed to protect their kids along the way and ensure that no harm is done to them.

Unfortunately for one Ohio teenager, however, her journey left her in the middle of a parental conflict over her physical appearance.


In January 2018, Kelsey Johnson, who was 13 years old at the time of the incident, was given the gift of a spa day by her mother Christin for her birthday. Kelsey chose to have her brown hair highlighted as part of the birthday gift from her mother. A few days later, Christin dropped her teenage daughter off at her father and stepmother's house, only for her to return home without her newly highlighted hair — or much hair at all.

Her dad made her cut off all her hair after her mom gave her highlights without his permission.

Christin posted photographs of the teenager on Facebook on January 31, smiling and looking proud of her new hairstyle. Yet those photos were accompanied by other pictures of Kelsey with her hair shorn off, covering her face in her hands. 


RELATED: Woman Decides To Teach Daughter A 'Lesson' By Sending Her To School In White Pants During Her Period

Christin announced on Facebook that the photo of Kelsey with long, blonde hair was “what she looked like on Sunday when I took her home,” while the photos of her with short hair were “what happened today before she was brought to me... all over me having highlights put in her hair for her birthday!”

The Facebook post went viral, causing outrage among commenters and even sparking an investigation of possible child abuse against Kelsey’s father and stepmother.


As one Facebook user commented, “she is beautiful with long hair or short, but the bottom line is forcing her to cut her hair in these circumstances is nothing short of abuse!” 

Another person stated that “emotional and mental abuse you keep with you, this type of abuse can scar you for a long time. The facts are nobody has the right to put hands on anybody."

RELATED: Dad Makes 16-Year-Old Daughter Shave Her Head After She Bullies A Girl With Cancer

Humiliation is a commonly-utilized form of emotional abuse.

Beyond that, disallowing teenagers to make their own decisions about their bodies and appearance is a psychologically controlling behavior that denies them bodily agency.




It’s clear from Kelsey’s body language in the Facebook photos that she’s unhappy that her father forced her to cut her hair off, as her face is buried in her hands and she won’t look at the camera.

Neither Christin, Kelsey, nor the father or stepmother commented on the situation after the fact. Yet several news outlets reported that Christin filed a complaint that alleged Kelsey’s father and stepmother forced her daughter to cut her hair short as punishment for having her hair highlighted. 

The Haskins Department police chief noted at the time of the 2018 post, the investigation was still pending. 


What’s clear in the aftermath of this viral story is that the father’s form of “punishment” damaged Kelsey’s sense of self-worth and denied her the right to make decisions surrounding her own body.

​RELATED: Teen Tells Mom 'Life Would Be Better' Without Her So She Granted Him His Wish

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers mental health, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.