Essex girl, as a pejorative stereotype in the United Kingdom, applies to a female viewed as promiscuous and unintelligent, characteristics jocularly attributed to women from Essex. It is applied widely throughout the country and has gained popularity over time, dating from the 1980s and 1990s.
The stereotypical image formed as a variation of the dumb blonde/bimbo persona, with references to the Estuary English accent, white stiletto heels, mini skirts, silicone-augmented breasts, peroxide blonde hair, over-indulgent use of fake tan (lending an orange appearance), promiscuity, loud verbal vulgarity and socialising at downmarket nightclubs.
Time magazine recorded:
In the typology of the British, there is a special place reserved for Essex Girl, a lady from London's eastern suburbs who dresses in white strappy sandals and suntan oil, streaks her hair blond, has a command of Spanish that runs only to the word Ibiza, and perfects an air of tarty prettiness. Victoria Beckham – Posh Spice, as she was – is the acknowledged queen of that realm ...
Challenging the Essex girl stereotype
In 2004, Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester in Essex, appealed for debate in the House of Commons on the issue, encouraging a boycott of The People tabloid, which has printed several derogatory references to girls from Essex.
The Essex Women’s Advisory Group was set up in 2010 to combat the negative stereotyping of girls living in Essex by supporting Essex-based women's charities helping those in need as well as by funding projects that promote women and girl's learning and success in science, technology, the arts, sports and business. The charitable fund is administered by the Essex Community Foundation.
On 6 October 2016, Juliet Thomas and Natasha Sawkins of The Mother Hub launched a campaign on social media to draw attention to the negative definition of Essex girl in the Oxford English Dictionary and Collins Dictionary. Their main goal was to raise awareness and to open a dialogue around the derogatory "Essex girl" stereotype. Their campaign centred around changing the definition of "Essex girl" to "a girl from or living in Essex" by encouraging women to use the hashtag #IAmAnEssexGirl and included a petition to change or remove the dictionary definitions. The campaign reached the national press.
- Airhead (subculture)
- Ah Lian
- Bridge and tunnel
- Essex man
- Guido (slang)
- Valley girl
- The Only Way Is Essex
- Educating Essex
- Biressi, Anita; Heather Nunn (2013). Class and Contemporary British Culture. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 23–43. ISBN 9780230240568.; Part 2: "Essex: class, aspiration and social mobility", Section 4: "Class, Taste and the Essex Girl"
- Elliott, Michael (19 July 2007), "Smitten with Britain", Time
- Rose, David (26 March 2004), "MP urges boycott of The People over Essex Girl jokes", PressGazette, archived from the original on 16 June 2011, retrieved 12 September 2007
- "Essex girls set up their own charity". The Telegraph. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
- Moore-Bridger, Benedict (25 October 2016). "Essex girl campaigners meet with dictionary bosses in bid to have term removed". Evening Standard. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
- de Bruxelles, Simon (25 October 2016). "The only way is out for Essex girl label". The Times. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
- Bate, Marisa (25 October 2016). "The problem with the phrase "Essex girl"". The Pool. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
- Beard, Mary (6 August 2017). "Essex Girl in Ancient Times". The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 August 2017.