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Health & Balance

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A New Age of Celebrity Worship

Experts help you understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of being the world's biggest fan.

Healthy, Happy, and Star Struck

While for some, celebrity worship can be unhealthy, experts say that for most of us, it's a pleasant diversion that can actually improve our lives. This is particularly true when the object of our interest sets a good example that helps us strive to achieve our own ideals.

"If you idolize someone for their accomplishments, and those accomplishments spurn you on to make gains in your own life, then admiring a celebrity can have a positive influence on your ambition, or even your mental health," says Aronowitz.

Indeed, many say that the popularity of Donald Trump's hit show The Apprentice and his own new-found star status stemmed from the fact that both he and the show provided a can-do attitude that inspired many young viewers to move forward on their own dreams. This mirrors the success -- and the feverish fan base -- for shows like American Idol, the Hollywood dream machine that showcases fresh talent from around the country.

Experts say hero worship can yield even more positive results when celebrities take to the streets with campaigns that encourage good health -- and ultimately help convince us to personally make changes in our own lives.

"Celebrities can have a positive influence on our life, with positive messages. They can be very helpful in terms of increasing awareness and decreasing stigma about many problems, including health problems, that might otherwise not get the attention they need," says Hollander.

Such was the case when Katie Couric launched her awareness campaign about colon cancer, when Brooke Shields gave postpartum depression some much-needed attention, or even when Michael J. Fox helped increase our own -- and our politicians' -- interest in stem cell research.

"In this respect, a celebrity can act almost like a support group -- helping us to see that life is OK, that I can do this, you can do this," she says.

Indeed, if there is a key to being a "healthy" fan, experts say it is in our ability to enjoy what a celebrity brings to our life, without them becoming our life.

"If you can just have fun with it, if it's not replacing emotional connections in your real life, then it's really all OK," Aronowitz concludes.

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