The Power of Girl Crushes: Women We Envy, Admire, and Wish We Could Be …

By Arden Edelcup

“It’s up to you to find beauty in the ugliest of days.” – Anonymous

This is the year that I am outing myself.  Yes, after hiding inside the proverbial closet of shame for years, I am proudly stepping outside into the light and shouting from the rooftop my truth for the entire world to hear:  “I Have Girl Crushes!”

Oh, it feels so freeing to unleash my inner “lesbian” and wipe off the ugly shame that I’ve carried forever.  However, to be perfectly clear, I am heterosexual and I have never possessed a sexual desire for another woman (not that there is anything wrong with that). My Girl Crushes are by no means physical or sexual in nature, but rather a tingly combination of envy and admiration. That being said, if you admit to your guy that you have a Girl Crush, it will take him less than a second to conjure up erotic scenes of Denise Richards and Neve Campbell in “Wild Things”.  Sorry guys, but I am not going there.

My Girl Crushes fall into these categories:

Idealized Versions of Ourselves Crushes:  These are women whom I meet in my every day life and who share similar physical attributes as me, yet I am convinced they do “me” just a little better.  They may be a few years younger, a little bit toner, a better sense of style, or all of the above. But they all pique my interest and intrigue. If they happen to be customers in my store, I sometimes find myself standing with a twinge of awkwardness in their presence, as if they can sense my infatuation. Not surprisingly, all of these “fleeting crushes” have long, dark hair with bangs and ooze a sort of Sandra Bullock vibe. Understandably, Sandy B. is my ultimate celebrity crush.

This leads me to my second category …

Celebrity Girl Crushes: Who hasn’t spent a few Girls Nights Out sipping wine and debating which annoying yet weirdly appealing Real Housewife we wanted to hang out with? Who hasn’t stared fixated at a magazine in the grocery store with Jennifer Aniston splashed on the cover frolicking in a teeny bikini at her “quiet vacation palace” in Cabo? She is always sharing a laugh with her gaggle of ageless celebrity bikini-clad friends as they soak up the sun. Flip a few more pages to gaze upon Courtney Cox munching on a specially prepared sashimi roll while Jen jogs effortlessly on the sandy beach. In that moment, I begin to wonder what it must be like to breathe in that rarified air of privilege, beauty and success. I begin to fantasize that if I ever bump into them shopping at a trendy upscale boutique in Beverly Hills, they would immediately become smitten with my super cool personality. They would admire my chic yet effortless style and immediately invite me into their exclusive celebrity girls club, where of course I rightfully belong. Sadly, this delicious fantasy soon comes to a screeching halt, as I begin to push my grocery cart into the sub-zero icy Chicago winter air.

Admiration Crushes:  These are women who are quite simply fucking great at what they do — women who are leading the way and inspire us with their “superwoman” abilities. In law school, I was fascinated with an inspiring female professor who wrote books on Constitutional Law, taught full-time, and lectured throughout the country. Of course, she went home to five gifted children and an equally successful husband. For three years, I sat in her classroom with a mixture of envy and adoration at this unruffled woman who seemed to balance it ALL with beauty and grace. She exhibited a level of intelligence, calm and creativity that kept me in a constant state of awe. Perhaps, she represented the professional goals that I felt were out of my reach, or maybe she inspired me to begin to search for my own definition of “professional success.” Yet all these years later, I still think about her with a sense of wonder.

Hoping that I am not alone in this Girl Crush World, I phoned my posse of friends and family members with this tantalizing question: “Did you ever have a girl crush?”

Without hesitation, a burst of giggles was followed with breathless remembrances of that fun-loving overnight camp counselor, a cool babysitter, or that young beautiful high school music teacher.

Basking under their gaze felt glowing and special, and in those moments we hoped that their magic would rub off on “us”.

While each story was vastly different, they were connected by one common thread: the object of our admiration possessed the nurturing yet assertive quality and the strength that we wanted to be close to.

It is a huge relief to discover that Girl Crushes are not a new phenomenon. Social scientists suspect that such emotions are an innate aspect of women’s nature; feelings that evolution may have favored because they helped women bond with one another and work cooperatively. Helen Fisher, the famous anthropologist, and expert of human love has stated:  “Girl crushes can give women safe and valuable experience in the emotions of love.”  She further explains that they are as natural as any kind of love, but they are romantic without being sexual.

If we are lucky, we will evolve into our own unique and authentic versions of those women we love and admire.

Interestingly, we may even be the object of another woman’s secret “Girl Crush”.  Next time you are frantically racing through Starbucks with unwashed hair stuck under an old baseball cap, there may be a neighbor watching you with admiration and envy.  She may be in awe of the “carefree confidence” that you exude as you energetically dart around town. She may quietly vow to herself that she is going to adopt that “effortless-yet-cute baseball cap” look the next time she ventures out for her morning espresso. She will question whether she has the “coolness” to pull off that look. With butterflies in her stomach, she may even ask for your number.

Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Arden Edelcup is a Mom of three “Indiana Hoosiers” and owner, with her hubby Earl Edelcup, of Ross’s in Highland Park, Illinois. Check out her website: www.rosscosmetic.com.

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