I am an Essex Girl - reclaim "Essex girl" and remove it from the dictionary
This petition had 9,775 supporters
Did you know that "Essex girl" is in fact an official "noun" in the english language. Take a deep breath, then read on. It isn't pretty....
A contemptuous term applied (usu. joc.) to a type of young woman, supposedly to be found in and around Essex, and variously characterized as unintelligent, promiscuous, and materialistic.
- The Oxford English Dictionary
A young working class woman from the Essex area, typically considered as being unintelligent, materialistic, devoid of taste, and sexually promiscuous.
- Collins Dictionary
"Unintelligent", "materialistic", "sexually promiscuous" and "devoid of taste". These terms simply don't define the women we know, heck even the ones we don't know but see around us every day; it doesn't define the paramedic who helped one of our daughters on the way to hospital, the mum at school who tirelessly fundraises while juggling a full time job, the woman successfully running her own business and mentoring others to do the same, 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 multitude of athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, actresses and musicians who have all come from Essex. It doesn't define the mothers, the sisters, the daughters of this county and we sure as hell won't let it define us. In the words of the rather fabulous Emma Watson, "I don't want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself". 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.
People can argue that it's a bit of "harmless fun, all taken in jest". But it's naive to say stereotypes are harmless, especially derogatory ones. They slowly seep into everyday lexicon, and in turn have a profound effect on general perceptions. The Essex stereotype even has an impact on investment into the county. It's therefore no surprise that Essex County Council had a commitment written into its Public Service Agreement with the government to improve its public image between 2002 and 2005 ...And yet here we are, still talking about negative stereotypes.
We want the definitions removed. Or, at the very least, made obsolete. And we know that, in order to do this, Essex needs to reclaim "Essex girl". To let the world know that it doesn't signify anything other than a girl who lives in Essex. Who she chooses to be beyond that, is entirely up to her.
We want more Boadicea and less of this invented "Essex girl". Because that girl you're referring to... she's just a girl.
To show your support, sign this petition, and post a photo or comment on social media with the tag #IAmAnEssexGirl - whether you're from Essex, or simply believe that no woman should be defined by anyone other than herself.
Read our full article on the IAmAnEssexGirl campaign here.
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