Katherine Heigl wore one seriously bad haircut last night. But her new brunette bouffant isn't just a bad styling choice. This is "motive hair." Something else is going on that informed this decision. We've all been there, and it's scary.

Seriously, this look is really bad. Not only does it accentuate her off-kilter hairline, it looks like the 'do that your Aunt Cheryl got in the late '70s and is still sporting today because she doesn't know what else to do and Marni down at the Wash-and-Set on Camp Street has been doing it exactly the same way for 30 years, so why bother to change? But Heigl has no excuse. She's a movie star and she wore this to the European premiere of her movie Killers. There was a team of well-paid (gay) people involved in putting this creation together on top of her head. And it was a given that cameras would on hand to document it, so she knew the look was going to rocket around the world.

Based on previous evidence, this appears to be "motive hair." Heigl changed her color to brunette back in March, right after she announced she was leaving Grey's Anatomy. She even had to wear a blonde wig to film Killers. She wanted that dark hair badly. Why? She was leaving her past behind. She was embracing her life as a married mother and cutting her ties with the role that made her famous. What better way to signify the transition than transform her appearance?

This new monstrosity is something else. Now she is trying to forge her way into the future and show the world that she is something new, different, and better. She wants this new look to catch on like The Rachel back in the '90s. Sorry, Ms. Heigl, that's not going to happen.

We should all feel some sympathy for her, though. We've all been there. You break up with a long-term boyfriend and decide it's time to try out that bob you've always wanted. You have a baby and decide that it's time to go all Mia Farrow and rock the pixie. You lose 50 pounds and decide to celebrate with a make over. Your mother tells you that she won't extend your curfew until midnight so you go down to the Hot Topic for some Manic Panic, head over to your best friend Stacy's house, and return home at 11pm with a new magenta mane. Even I had a bout with "motive hair" a year or so ago when an unfortunate bout with alopecia made me grow my customarily short hair a few inches longer to cover the bald spots.

Every major cosmetic change is usually linked to some sort of psychological event. Motive hair is a daily reminder that something has drastically changed and there is nothing you can do to reverse it. Sure, there are people in the world such as Madonna who like to switch up their style every so often just because they're fickle. That's a disorder all onto itself. But for most people—and especially celebrities who trade on their image more than anything else—changes are rarely gradual and are usually triggered by other factors. Heroes star Hayden Panettiere cut off her long locks two months ago. Do you think that had something to do with her show getting canceled? The most famous case of "motive hair" was, of course, when Britney Spears shaved her head three years ago in the middle of what can only be described as an "episode." We didn't even have to guess what was going on there.

It's a little different for men, mostly because their hair is shorter and grows back more quickly, so even a drastic move can be easily remedied. But just look at Charlie Sheen, who shaved his head in April in the middle of his (latest) charges-of-spousal-abuse-and-sleeping-with-a-lingerie-model contretemps. He said it was to fool the paparazzi, but we think it might be because he needed something under his hat to prove to him that his life was different. Or he had a case of the crabs and was just playing it safe. Whichever.

Men are more prone to acting out through their facial hair. Just look at Conan O'Brien, who celebrated his less-than-amicable break with NBC and season of unemployment by growing a beard. We can't wait until he celebrates his freedom from the network's shackles by shaving it off.

While Conan doesn't look so bad sporting some ginger scruff on his face, "motive hair" is usually pretty bad. At first it is strange and awkward, and the wearer is timid in her new skin, because it's a reflection of some sort of inner turmoil. So instead of being nasty to Heigl, maybe we should find it in our hearts to be supportive through this difficult time. Maybe instead of asking "Katherine's Bouffant: Love It or Hate It?" we should ask, "What is going on in her head that she would do that?" Naw, on second thought, that look is way too busted.

[Image via Getty]