Thousands sign petition in support of Essex girls who are fighting to redefine dictionary term

16:16 27 October 2016

Natasha Sawkins and Juliet Thomas who started the petition. Picture: Kika Mitchell Photography.

Natasha Sawkins and Juliet Thomas who started the petition. Picture: Kika Mitchell Photography.

Kika Mitchell Photography

A campaign to remove the “derogatory and stereotypical” ‘Essex Girl’ definition from the dictionary has gained huge momentum after thousands signed up to a petition.

It comes after two women from Brentwood banded together and launched the campaign in an attempt to “reclaim the term”.

Juliet Thomas and Natasha Sawkins from the online forum Mother Hub, started the petition two weeks ago after being “appalled” to find the term listed officially.

Both the Collins and Oxford English Dictionaries have the term ‘Essex Girl’ listed as a noun and defined as “a young working class woman from the Essex area, typically considered as being unintelligent, materialistic and sexually promiscuous”.

Ms Thomas, 32, said: “We already knew there were thousands of proud Essex girls but many like us, would not have know this definition existed in the dictionaries.

“So this is a campaign to reclaim the term and all about giving women a voice and starting a dialogue.

“For too long girls have faced a barrage of Essex girl jokes when they go to university and feel they have to fight twice as hard to get the same level of respect as others.”

Women from all over the country with links to Essex have now fought back online by listing their personal achievements under the hashtag #IAmAnEssexGirl.

“We have been overwhelmed with the scale of the response, its been incredible,” the 32-year-old mum said.

“But we have not been surprised by the passion and pride of everyone from Essex as we all know the stigma girls face when they venture out of the county.”

Despite the petition now gaining more than 8,000 supporters, a spokeswoman for the Oxford English Dictionary said the term could not be removed.

A spokeswoman for the Oxford English Dictionary said: “We don’t exclude offensive or vulgar terms from our dictionaries as they are as much a part of the language as any other words.

“Their presence in the dictionary is simply a recognition of existence and of relative longevity.”

But the campaigners are remaining upbeat despite the refusal.

“The Oxford English Dictionary has thanked us for bringing the debate to the public’s attention and they haven’t ruled out changes,” Ms Thomas said.

“If we continue the campaign and show the amount of people who are against the term then we hope to see change in the future.”

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