PIERRE, SD—As cotton athletic headbands, the season's hot fashion accessory, continue to appear on trendsetters' foreheads across the nation, the originator of the fad has finally been located: Pierre West High School sophomore Melody Peterson.

Peterson, who made the fashion statement later copied by stars like Russell Crowe (right).

"Yeah, I started doing that headband thing, like, six months ago," the 16-year-old Peterson told reporters Monday. "Of course, all the other girls in my school were wearing them right after I did, and then everyone in South Dakota started doing it. Pretty soon, I was seeing headbands on TV and stuff."

Before the headband trend was traced to Peterson, little was known about this B-average student who enjoys cheerleading, Beyoncé, and talking on her cell phone with friends. Since it was revealed that she inadvertently started the international headband trend, however, Peterson has been barraged with interview requests.

"It all started when I was at this boring sporting-goods store with my brother and I saw these totally butt-ugly headbands," Peterson said. "I thought it might be fun to pull off wearing something dorky like that, so I bought one. When I got home and tried it on, I was like, 'I actually look pretty good in this.'"

Peterson said she was not surprised by her sudden fame.

"Everyone in this stupid town always copies what I do because they don't have any originality," Peterson said. "This is the first time one of my ideas traveled outside my school, though. When I saw the same headbands I was wearing at Old Navy, I was like, 'Yuh, get a clue.' Just because I start doing something doesn't mean everyone else has to."

Added Peterson: "Check out this scarf. Isn't it hot?"

Everyone from South Beach club denizens to stars like Ashton Kutcher, Lindsay Lohan, and Gwen Stefani has been wearing headbands this season. However, photos on Peterson's best friend's personal home page prove that Peterson was the first one to wear them.

"I didn't even think that much about it when I took those pictures of Melody last September," said Ashley Gamble, of gambleyourheart.com. "Mel's always wearing these great outfits, then complaining about how everyone else is just a clone. Now that Teen People ran that story about headbands, she's really going to have something to bitch about."

Gamble said she started wearing headbands about a month ago. She stressed that it wasn't because it was the hot new thing, but because she thought the accessory was "cute."

"It's kinda an unspoken rule that you're not supposed to copy your friend's look," said Gamble, who was wearing a pink-and-white Von Dutch headband. "But check out how sexy I look in this one. When I saw it, I just had to have it. I knew it would look hot with my black tank top."

Athletic-gear manufacturers like Nike and Puma have reported skyrocketing sales of the two-toned cotton headbands that Peterson paired with non-sporting outfits. Even high-end fashion designers have begun to steal Peterson's idea.

"Melody had a great idea," Juicy Couture designer Gela Nash-Taylor said. "Headbands are definitely going to be prominent in this year's fall lines. I know that Michael Kors is experimenting with fleece headbands, and all I can say about Marc Jacobs' headband line is, 'Wow!'"

Peterson said some of the people across the country who are copying her style are unable to pull it off.

"Everyone in the world has to imitate every single little thing I do, whether it's keeping boxes of cereal in my locker or wearing flip-flops in winter," Peterson said. "Like, some people look good in a headband, but most don't. Brad Pitt looks yummy with one, but Hilary Duff? Please. You have to have an attitude to pull it off. Which, uh, she does not."

Continued Peterson: "Someone sent me a picture of [Vice President] Dick Cheney wearing a headband like mine, and it made me want to puke. Newsflash to government guys: If you work in an office, don't try to be cool."

According to Peterson, the most upsetting thing about being ripped off on a national scale is that "the whole thing is so over."

"I haven't worn one of those headbands in five months," Peterson said. "It was something that was cool for, like, a week, because I was the only one doing it."

"Hey, look at this—it's my dad's old bowling bag," Peterson added. "Isn't it hot? Not. But still, it might be kinda cute, in a retarded way. I think I might start carrying my gym clothes in it."