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Susan Shapiro Barash Headshot

The Celebrity Girlfriend in Your Backyard

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What could be more seductive than celebrity status these days? We're still talking about celebrity attire at the academy awards, we love nothing more than to read about famous women who are devoted friends (think Oprah and Gayle, Jennifer and Courtney), and any kind of catfight between the stars is so titillating it's an ongoing sport.

It's an old story -- having a famous friend, or being famous and surrounding yourself with those who are like you. But celebrity status is beyond riveting lately, as is the yearning for best female friends. In such complicated times as we live in, a best friend could surely help one feel safe, appreciated and understood. Combine this notion with the fact that she's a celebrity and bingo, you're ahead of the game.

A recent poll conducted by onepoll.com reported the 10 top celebrity women whom everyday women imagined would be a best friend. The list included Cheryl Cole, Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, Holly Willoughby and Britney Spears. While it's unlikely that we will have the chance to forge a best friendship with any of the above, the lure of a celebrity friend remains. In everyday life, we can end up with a 'celebrity' friend or two, even if she lives in our hometown or is part of our inner circle. It's a conquest to have this kind of friend, someone who offers a variety of possibilities. This is the celebrity within your grasp -- perhaps your neighbor or the mother of your daughter's best friend or the new woman in your pilates class who will suffice, as long as she has the 'right stuff'. For instance, this friend could be financially impressive or socially connected or wired professionally, even if she isn't Lilly Allen or Katie Price or Davina McCall( a few others on the onepoll list).

What this flavor of friend provides is a redefined, watered down form of celebrity that extends to one's reality. Still, it's enticing to be with a friend who is disarming, sought after and has something you clearly don't have. This applies for women of all ages -- consider Clueless, the feature film where Alicia Silverstone plays Cher who is definitely a celebrity in her high school fishbowl. Her best friend, Dionne, played by Stacey Dash, finds Cher and her status irresistible. Where would she be without her? Many of us, of all ages, see the advantage and the high of being in Dionne's situation. One woman, 41, who moved across country with her husband and twin daughters and searched for new friends immediately, described herself as taken with 'the one woman who is wealthy and chic.'

Of course, a 'celebrity' friend's influence and her ability to turn heads is not only exciting, but can be consuming. It's also satisfying if you are a celebrity of sorts to be with others who also have a claim to fame and you share this universe. To this end, I found myself glued to an article in the April issue of Vanity Fair, "Lehman's Desperate Housewives" by Vicky Ward. Ward describes a mandatory friendship that existed among the wives of the heads of the now defunct Lehman Brothers, during its heyday. This was required by Dick Fuld, who was head of the firm, and apparently understood by the husbands who ran his divisions. Thus, the wives in this rarified group, where celebrity status was defined by a husband's achievement and money, were expected to be friends.

Beyond the sheer misery of it all, and the 'backstabbing' and 'hypocrisy' among the group, Ward describes the hierarchal nature, with Kathy Fuld at the helm. Here then is a reminder that when it comes to celebrity friends, as with other friends, while it might not be free of competition (since many female friendships have this component), it's best to choose your own, come what may.