Kate Gosselin's Hair

Until recently, it was easy to ignore Kate Gosselin of TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus 8 and her curious haircut. Then husband Jon allegedly cheated on her, and suddenly, the hair of the mother of twins and sextuplets was dominating the tabloids. We traced the origins of the mysterious ‘do back to its roots.

Heidi Gutman, ABC / Retna; Chris Ware, Keystone Features / Getty Images

Heidi Gutman, ABC / Retna; Chris Ware, Keystone Features / Getty Images

Vidal Sassoon’s 1963 Geometric Bob

The heavy, crisply defined slash of Kate’s bangs can be traced to the revolutionary “easy-maintenance” cut that legendary British follicle-sculptor Sassoon gave Hong Kong actress Nancy Kwan, who played chess distractedly while he wielded his razor. (Seen here, right: a similar Sassoon style.) This style really kick-started the era of modern, mom-friendly hair where a skillful cut, not curlers or sprays, determines the shape. Unlike Kate’s hair, however, Sassoon’s bob has a back.

Mark Arbeit / TLC; Terry Fincher, Express / Getty Images

Barbra Streisand’s 1960s Split-Level Style

The abrupt directional shifts in Kate’s hair—part of which pokes up, part of which flows down—might seem unique to this demanding TV personality, who reportedly fired 40 nurses and nurse’s aids in a period of three months. Not so. Streisand was sporting a similarly divided look in the mid-late ‘60s, combining fierce Sassoonian angles with the poofy girlishness of earlier eras. On Streisand, this attempt to have it both ways seems symptomatic of a conflicted proto-feminism. In Kate’s case, it seems symptomatic of a vengeful staff.

L: Heidi Gutman, ABC / Retna

The Chinese Crested Dog’s Vision-Obscuring Bangs

It’s tempting to read symbolic meaning into Kate’s decision to wear bangs so long she can barely see with her right eye. Is this a woman who blindly declares that she owes it to the public to let her children grow up in front of them, while reportedly banking between $25,000 and $75,000 per episode? Or does she simply love the Chinese Crested’s impish look and see herself in its lovable tendency to bark without provocation? Another possible inspiration: The Scottish Highland Cow.

David Livingston / Getty Images; Ebet Roberts / Getty Images

The Flock of Seagulls’ Forward Thrust

Since Kate’s hairstyle has become an object of fascination, it has frequently—and unfairly—been likened to the oft-ridiculed New Wave coif that Flock of Seagulls frontman Mike Score devised for himself in the early 1980s. A former hairdresser, Score at least had a concept: “I will look like a seagull,” he seemed to be saying. “I will tease the sides of my hair into wings, and spray my disproportionately lengthy bangs into a beak. Then I will fly so high that, like Icarus, I will be punished, and end my days on VH-1 I Love the’80s specials.” Kate, on the other hand, appears to have no style concept beyond a desire to distinguish herself from all the other tightly wound housewives who yell at people on TV.

Mark Arbeit / TLC; Everett

Edward Furlong’s Petulant Terminator 2 Do

By 1991, the exuberant projectile bangs of New Wave hair had wilted into this mopey skater look, ideal for kids who needed to toss their hair irritably. Is Kate paying homage to Furlong’s Terminator 2 character every time she whips her bangs about while berating her spouse for misusing the word “perfect” or breathing too loudly?

Heidi Gutman, ABC / Retna; Getty images

Jennifer Aniston’s Unnatural Streaks

If you took “the Rachel”—the helmet of hair that was clamped onto Jennifer Aniston’s head for the first two seasons of Friends (1994-1996)—and shrunk it, you’d get the front half of “the Gosselin.” Both looks feature implausible, chunky, face-framing highlights that are “fun” in the same way turquoise pleather pants are supposed to be fun but are, in fact, depressing and tacky. On the plus side, with her Rachelesque stripes, you would never confuse Kate with those bland, self-effacing moms whose highlights suggest that the sun has lightly kissed the hair. Kate and her stylist somehow persuaded the sun to drool heavily on her hair.

David Livingston / Getty Images; AP Photo

Rosie O’Donnell’s Classic Butch Crop

Long before Kate Gosselin became famous for her commanding ways, lesbians were combining long Sassoonian bangs with a military brush cut for a look (seen here on Rosie O’Donnell in 1991) that’s both manly and not-completely-manly. The likelihood that the flagrantly heterosexual Kate Gosselin is unaware she’s walking around in her sexy miniskirts and glamour-doll sunglasses with a quintessentially lesbian hairdo is quite fascinating, and speaks to either the mainstreaming of alternative style or Kate’s unconscious love for bitchin’ motorcycles.

Mark Arbeit / TLC; AP Photo

Victoria Beckham’s Classic Butch Crop

Oh, right…almost forgot about Posh. Perhaps Kate’s hair has less to do with an unconscious yearning for Kawasakis, and more to do with a conscious decision to ape Beckham (shown here in 2008), an early adopter of millennial lesbo-hetero, New Wave-influenced style.

David Livingston / Getty Images; Getty Images

Adam Lambert’s Emo Mop

One final epiphany: Consider the eerie resemblance between the notorious mom and ambiguous rocker Lambert, who debuted his emo-kid hairstyle on American Idol last fall. Please note that, in the emo context, Kate’s much-maligned “reverse mullet” is a thing of beauty, sometimes fondly referred to as a ”tellum” (get it?). Dyed Black, Kate’s do would instantly become “emo,” too, earning her the right to scowl even more continuously, screech sluggish songs when the kids misbehave, and pierce her septum. Moving forward, this may be just the twist she needs to survive the current onslaught of negative press, and squeeze a couple more seasons out of TLC.