So I grew up in a little place called Essex.
I listened to jokes like this throughout my formative years;
"Q. What's the difference between a Walrus and an Essex Girl?
A. One is wet, has a moustache and smells of fish - the other is a walrus.
Q. Whats the difference between an Essex man & an Essex girl ?
A. The Essex girl has a higher sperm count !
Q. What does an Essex girl say after having sex ?
A. What team do you guys play for !
Q. Whats the difference between Gorbachev and an Essex girl ?
A. Gorby knows the names of the eight people that f**ked him !
Q. What do Essex girls use for protection during sex?
A. Bus Shelters.
Q. How does an Essex girl turn the light out after sex?
A. She shuts the Cortina's door.
Q. How do you make an Essex girl's eyes sparkle?
A. Shine a torch into her ear...
Q. How can you tell if an Essex girl is having a bad day?
A. Her tampon is behind her ear and she can't find her pencil." - Nerdware (yep they're still all online)
Not so much when you're an awkward teen looking for inspo on who you're supposed to be.
I always found it weird that I was supposed to LOVE white stilettos, yet I didn't? A simple shoe that held so many connotations and a sterotype of a girl I didn't know, yet I was an Essex girl?
I was under the impression that I had to give head in the back of a Nova SR, simply because I was an Essex girl?!
And yet, much like the expected Essex girl footwear, I really didn't fancy honouring my stereotype on either expectations!
I never did fit in. I didn't wear much make up, I didn't 'get my tits out for the lads' and I didn't wear enough bling to give Humperdinck a run for his money.
But I was a teenage girl, looking for a way to fit in. So I had to choose, would I become what was expected, buy the shoes, give the head, or would I choose to step away and create me?
I did the latter, and as it turns out so did a lot of other Essex girls!
So, why the chuff then does the Oxford English Dictionary STILL include the phrase Essex girl with this definition;
noun. BRITISH. informal. derogatory
a brash, materialistic young woman of a type supposedly found in Essex or surrounding areas in the south-east of England.
I now have my own 13 year old Essex girl on her path to deciding who she is and this shiz is still readily available at the touch of an overused button on her phone.
It scares me and I make huge efforts to make sure that she know's her worth, that she knows that she is an individual and can be whomever she chooses, and hell yes, that she need never wear a white stilleto or do that other stuff with dirty boys, unless it's who she is, not who she's been told she is.
It's defo time that the dictionary moved with the times and dropped or at the very lest amended the definition of Essex girl for the sake of our future girls who are from Essex.
Thankfully this mamoth task has been undertaken by the mighty duo Juliet and Natasha aka The Mother Hub . Two amazing women who have started a campaign to make the change. They've started a petition which has made great waves in raising the profile of this BS. They've been on BBC, ITV, met with some peeps at Oxford Dictionary and basically kicking the sterotype in the ass.
And whilst doing all this work they even manged to launch an evening of women, from Essex who are also kicking the stereotype in the ass!
There was a panel of women were a business owner, an Instagram ledge, a Gold winning Olympian and a Charity organiser supporting women from Essex.
It was amazingly inspirational night and a huge reminder of how much of a cock up the Oxford definition is and actually how damaging it can still be all these many (many, many) years on since I was that awkward teen.
AND there was not one white stiletto in sight, instead there were astute, hard working, inspirational, and empowered sisters who knew their worth and who just want the simple thing, for our daughters not to grow up being made to feel that by definition they are 'brash and materialistic' just because they happen to have been born in Essex.
Time for change!
You can sign the petition here and have your say about this outdated crap that so desperately needs to be sorted. And it would be amazing if you could share a little selfie using the hashatag #iamanessexgirl just like this lovely lot did!