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Posted Mon, August 23, 2010 8:59am EDT

Bonnie Says: Kate Gosselin — Your New Wardrobe Looks Tarty! Isn't This Too Racy For A Mom?

Here’s the question – when we give birth or adopt, do we also take on an obligation to dress with more decorum than before we had little ones who should be looking up to us as role models?

And does that mean we ditch the minis, short shorts, halter-tops and heels? Are plunging necklines still OK, but only for a night out on the town?

These are questions I can’t help ponder when I look at Kate Gosselin’s latest get-ups. It’s not that the individual fashion items are objectionable on their own, but it’s the combination – high heels plus loads of leg, lots of bare skin on top and then long, bleached blonde hair. It all adds up to a look that just doesn’t reassuringly say “mom,” especially for a woman who sets herself up as a role model for other moms.

She’s not just the star of Kate Plus 8, she’s also the author of advice-giving books, Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets, Eight Little Faces: A Mom’s Journey and I Just Want You To Know: Letters to My Kids on Love, Faith and Family.

Furthermore her new TLC show, A Twist of Kate, has Kate traveling the country giving help and mommy advice to families.

So one of the country’s most infamous moms has decided it’s OK to be a role model and go shopping with her kids for back-to-school clothes, in short, tight, skin-baring looks.

But maybe I’m being a big prude.

“She’s sending a message out loud and clear that she’s available,” points out Suze Yalof Schwartz, fashion and beauty expert and Today Show regular. “Do I think it’s chic? Absolutely not. But do I think it’s appealing to many men? YES! She’s not dressing for her kids. She knows she’s being photographed and this is better than It’s the ultimate profile.”

Yalof doesn’t think Kate is actually being overtly sexual, but she is trying to be fashionable and just isn’t quite getting it right.

“She’s wearing all the big trends – animal prints, satin and leather low cut boots/shoes, but it’s just too much,” Yalof says. “Tight, tight shorts and high heels – just doesn’t do it.”

On the other hand, Yalof applauds Kate as a mom of eight for not just wearing scrubs all day.

“It’s amazing, she’s putting in the effort – it’s better than wearing elasticized pants, baggy t-shirts and flip flops.”

OK, those are all good points. However Joanna Douglas, fashion and beauty editor of disagrees to a degree.

“It would be fine for her to dress like this if she was going out at night with friends,” Douglas says. “She’s 35, she’s got a great body and is in good shape but no kids want to get an eyeload of their moms cleavage. … Going out with her kids in the middle of the day like this, just makes her seem attention-hungry.”

Or is she just not being practical? That’s the concern of Susan Crenek’s executive online editor for fashion and beauty. “It’s very difficult to run after and take care of a kid (much less eight) when you’re worried about necklines dipping into scandalous territory,” she says.

So what do you think – am I being too harsh to expect Kate to dress in a way that won’t provoke the eww factor from her kids? She has said she’s lonely, and what single mom with the burden of raising eight kids wouldn’t be? She has a right to long for a love partner again. Hey, she’s 35! But are tight, short clothes the right way to telegraph it? Or is Kate right to throw her hands up at me and any other critics and just dress the way she wants – mommy-appropriate or not?

Let me know what you think!

— Bonnie Fuller