(SALT LAKE CITY) — The Utah woman who made headlines for forcing her stepdaughter to wear secondhand clothes as a punishment for bullying says she did it to teach the girl empathy.
“She needed to know how inappropriate she was behaving,” Ally Olsen told ABC’s Good Morning America special correspondent Cameron Mathison.
Olsen devised the unique punishment after being told by the school where her stepdaughter, 11-year-old Kaylee Lindstrom, is a fourth-grader that Kaylee had been teasing a fellow student about her clothes.
“She said, ‘You’re ugly, you dress sleazy, you’re mean,’” Olsen said of Kaylee’s bullying.
Instead of giving Kaylee a lecture, Olsen took her clothes shopping. Their shopping destination, however, was not a mall but a thrift store, where Olsen had Kaylee select the ugliest clothes she could find.
“She would pick out stuff and say, ‘Mom, this is the ugliest thing I have ever seen,’ and I would say, ‘Oh yeah, put that in the cart,’” Olsen said.
For the next two days, to Kaylee’s surprise, Olsen and Kaylee’s dad made the girl wear the clothes she had picked out to school.
“Terrible” is how Kaylee described the bullying she herself received as a result.
“I [was] like, why would they do that to me,” she said of her classmates’ taunts. “I’m still a normal person. It doesn’t matter what you wear.”
Kaylee told Mathison she appreciates the lesson learned. She also now describes her relationship with the girl she bullied as “sisters.”
Olsen and Kaylee’s dad, Mark Lindstrom, say they wanted to put Kaylee in her friend’s shoes, literally.
“We really think if you felt how this little girl feels, you might have a little empathy for her,” Olsen said. “She learned exactly what we wanted her to learn. We couldn’t be happier.”
“For us, we really feel like this was the best idea and the best solution for Kaylee to be the best person she could be,” said Lindstrom.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Sara Zendehnam, CNN
Kathryn Vasel, CNN