Tuesday, 25 October 2016

How many Essex girls does it take to saturate the media?

Something of an Essex Girl overload today. The Times has a full page feature ("The only way is out for Essex girl label") interviewing former Bloomberg workers Natasha Sawkins and Juliet Thomas, who started the petition on the Mother Hub website to have the words 'Essex girl' removed from the Oxford English Dictionary. They also have a hash tag campaign where successful women reclaim the phrase with #iamanessexgirl.

The Sun also covers the furore while the Evening Standard has a feature proclaiming "Essex girl campaigners win meeting with bosses of dictionary." The Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC interviewed several Essex women talking about the petition while tomorrow's Guardian has a Pass Notes on Essex Girls. Meanwhile the publishers of the Oxford Dictionary thank the campaigners for their interest but say they can't exclude offensive terms. And rather ironically, the well-intentoned petition seems to have bought the phrase Essex girl right back into the public consciousness…

Monday, 24 October 2016

Should Essex Girl be removed from the Dictionary?

Interesting piece in inews reporting that 3000 people have signed a petition to have the term 'Essex Girl' removed from the Oxford English Dictionary. The petition was set up by campaign group the Mother Hub and objects to the dictionary definition of an Essex Girl as: “A type of young woman, supposedly to be found in and around Essex, and variously characterised as unintelligent, promiscuous, and materialistic.” 

They have a point, but after Towie and 25 years of usage they may find it difficult to achieve their aim. And there's a similar case for removing the words Essex Man from the dictionary, who is described as: "A new type of Conservative voter typically (esp. contemptuously) characterised as a brash, self-made young businessman who benefited from the entrepreneurial wealth created by Thatcherite policies.”

As I mention in my book The Joy of Essex, in the first series of The Only Way Is Essex Sam Faiers and Amy Childs discuss the dictionary definition of Essex Girl over a large glass of Rose. Sam says that the word Essex Girl is “actually in the Dictionary.” Amy asks if it means “glamorous… what it right slags us off… shu’ up! You’re having me on! I thought it meant like classy…” Sam replies, “It’s like stilettoes and men.” Amy then comments: “The person that’s obviously done the Dictionary who is it? I’m being serious. Is he from Essex or is he from wherever, like the north or Manchester? If they were from Essex they wouldn’t write that.”

Amy is reputedly worth £5 million, which rather disproves the stereotype. Meanwhile the person that done the dictionary may be in for even more grief if the petition continues to grow.