In Defence Of Being An Essex Girl

In defence of a county that's about way more than fake tan and gold hoops

in defence of essex girls

by Anna Clarke |

'Unintelligent, materialistic, devoid of taste, and sexually promiscuous' Remind you of anyone? And don’t say your ex! Try not to choke on your coffee but this is the Collins English dictionary definition for an 'Essex girl.' The derogatory description has unsurprisingly inflamed a crew of women in Essex who just aren’t having it and are petitioning to have the term removed.

The group’s campaign – started by Natasha Sawkins and Juliet Thomas – has already garnered over 3,000 signatures and are fiercely galvanising support on Twitter via #iamanessexgirl where reams of women and men – from Essex and beyond – are reclaiming the phrase on their own terms. They’re letting 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.’

I am an Essex girl, loud and proud. And I’m not the watered-down type either – from leafy Saffron Walden or Chigwell – I was born and raised in Romford, so a double Jägerbomb down the dogs’ sort of lady. If living in Essex all these past years has taught me anything, it’s that the girl down the Ice rink, Sugar Hut or Wetherspoons reigns supreme as a modern, feminist figurehead of ballsy womanhood who can both run a business with one hand and apply falsies with the other. The two obviously aren’t mutually exclusive and those that think so are clearly just ‘well jel.’

Here's why Essex Girls rule:

1. We’re fearless

The Essex woman has historically been a no-nonsense sort; the 1968 strike actions of the machinists at the Dagenham Ford Motor plant – immortalised in the film, Made In Dagenham – revolutionised women’s workplace rights, leading to the historic 1970 Equal Pay Act. The work of these fierce Essex girls led by Vera Sime and her posse paved the way for generations of younger women country wide; a fight we’re still tirelessly battling.

2. ‘We’re grafters’

As a dedicated viewer of TOWIE, I find the hard-nosed women of the show impressive, with their entrepreneurial rigour – um, Amy Childs’ hair vajazzles anyone? – and self-determination. They are all successful business women in their own right, built from money earned through the show and not from any man. Sam Faiers had strong words for any doubters in a Daily Mail interview, ‘I don’t need a man to support me financially. I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself.’ And Ferne McCann, who supports the recent petition, declared ‘I’m a proud Essex girl. Most of us are self-sufficient entrepreneurial grafters.’

They also have an inherent sense of sisterhood; in one early episode where Arg asks Lydia ‘Why do you girls always stick up for each other?’ She replies, nonplussed: ‘If it wasn’t for all those women sticking up for gals over the years, we wouldn’t be in the society what we are now, would we?’ Amen to that.

3. She’s just a woman, like any other

When I asked a friend how she saw her relationship with the term ‘Essex girl’, she said it’s something that’s plagued her the majority of her academic career. And at first she was even reticent to tell people where she came from.

‘At University I know I shied away from telling people, especially guys, where I was from as I was nervous of their perception of me. Even now, as I start my PHD, I still get the “You’re not the typical Essex girl are you?” Maria Long, Gidea Park, PHD Student.

‘The truth is there is no typical Essex girl, just like there is no typical woman’

You can sign the petition here.

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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