A campaign has been launched to overturn the negative stereotyping of Essex girls after the term “Essex Girl” became officially recognised by dictionaries.
Natasha Sawkins, 34, and Juliet Thomas, 32, have started an online petition to get the expression removed and have already had thousands of signatures in support.
The Oxford English and Collins English dictionaries describe “Essex Girl” as a “derogatory” noun.
The latter has the definition: “A young working class woman from the Essex area, typically considered as being unintelligent, materialistic, devoid of taste, and sexually promiscuous.”
The pair, both married with two children, said: “We want more Boadicea and less of this invented ‘Essex girl’.
“Because that girl you’re referring to….she’s just a girl. For us, the saddest part about the existence of these definitions is not the fact that a whole county of women are pigeon-holed into such an appalling stereotype.
“‘Unintelligent’, ‘materialistic’, ‘sexually promiscuous’ and ‘devoid of taste’, these terms simply don’t define the women we know. It doesn’t define the lady working double shifts at Tesco to make ends meet, the teenage girl up late studying for her A Levels, the hairdresser who dreams of opening her own salon, the volunteer at the woman’s refuge trying to help those who need it most.
“It doesn’t define the mothers, the sisters, the daughters of this county and we sure as hell won’t let it define us. And it’s true, the “Essex girl” you’re referring to, is just a girl, trying to decide who she is, just the same as everyone else.”
Olympic sailing star Saskia Clark, from West Mersea, and Oscar nominated actress Charlotte Rampling, from Braintree, Essex, have been cited as examples of true Essex Women by supporters of the campaign.
With more than 3,000 signatures so far, the duo’s aim is to smash 5,000 which will allow them to submit the petition to Judy Pearsall, editorial director of Oxford English dictionaries, and representatives from Collins Dictionaries.
Anyone who agrees is asked to post a picture or comment on social media with the term #IAmAnEssexgirl