I’ve always been proud to call Essex my home. I was born here and have lived here my entire life (apart from 3 years away at university). I’m told that I have a strong accent which gives me away.
Unfortunately, Essex possibly has one of the worst reputations of all regions in the UK. Being from this county carries with it a stigma, particularly if you are female. The definition of an Essex girl according to the Collins dictionary is “a young working class woman from the Essex area, typically considered as being unintelligent, materialistic, devoid of taste, and sexually promiscuous”. The TV show TOWIE further reinforces the stereotype with it’s preened and perma-tanned stars.
I’ve heard all the Essex Girl jokes countless times- whilst I find them tired and outdated, I don’t find them particularly offensive. Should I be more offended by being called an Essex Girl? Natasha and Juliet from The Mother Hub started a campaign to have the term made obsolete. Their petition to have Essex Girl removed from the dictionary has amassed 9638 signatures to date. They say “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.”
Others argue that removing the term from the dictionary won’t do anything to change deeply ingrained misconceptions.
I’m an ambassador for This Girl Can Essex, which is an extension of the successful national campaign to celebrate and encourage active women. As an ambassador I aim to spread the positive message of the campaign by sharing all the great opportunities to get active in the local area. It’s a powerful campaign and something I’m really proud to be a part of.
Essex really is an amazing place for sport and fitness- we’ve got miles of stunning coastline, vast networks of trails, huge open green spaces and an array of quality facilities. Hadleigh Park was home to the London 2012 olympic mountain biking competition and the Lee Valley White Water Centre (on the Hertfordshire border) hosted the canoe slalom. Both venues are still used for sports and activities as the Olympic legacy lives on.
The county is also home to a vast range of professional athletes and coaches. Proving that Essex Girls are not just dumb blondes, I did a little research into inspirational sportswomen from my county…
- Laura Kenny (nee Trott)- the most successful female track cyclist in Olympic history was born in Harlow, Essex.
- Saskia Clark– orginally from Colchester, Saskia won gold in sailing at the 2016 Rio games and silver in the 2012 London games.
- Sally Gunnell– born in Chigwell, Sally is a former track and field athlete and the only British athlete to have won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles.
- Stephanie Twell– is a middle and long distance runner who competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. She’s originally from Colchester.
- Rebecca Gallantree- born in Chelmsford and competed in the 2012 games in the synchronised 3 metre springboard. She also won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games alongside Alicia Blagg.
- Amy Marren- won bronze medal in the 200m individual medley at the Paralympic Games in in 2016. She’s from Hornchurch- my hometown!
These women are role models- they are doing great things for their sport as well as the reputation of the county. Celebrating the achievements of women from Essex helps to challenge the misconceptions and reclaim the label. I’m proud to be from the same county as these powerful, strong role models.
I am an Essex girl, but I won’t be defined by the stereotype.
What do you think of the term Essex Girl? Should it be removed from the dictionary?