Sandra Dean - BACP Registered member

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Author (Amanda Green), Blogger, Life Writing Workshop coach, BACP Counsellor Dip., Aerial Photographer and Orangutan, Animal and Mental Health campaigner in Essex

Charity set to clean up image of the Essex girl!

Last week saw the charity EWAG (Essex Women’s Advisory Group) in the news, as they are campaigning to clean up the image of the Essex girl.

I first heard about this Essex registered charity on This Morning on TV, which sparked some interest and many callers/texts and emails were sent into the show. The Telegraph, Daily Mail and other newspapers/websites, also covered the news. I have now researched this group, and have made my comments below this article.

The website says “The primary aim of the Essex Women’s Advisory Group is to empower the girls who live in Essex, to broaden their vision, self-worth and belief, and hopefully to inspire them to reach further, higher and live the dream of an enhanced future regardless of their stereotyping,”

The Essex Women’s Advisory Group has formulated a three-year plan to ’empower’ the women of Essex and help them overcome their stiletto-clad stereotype.

Elizabeth Hart, the Chairman of Essex County Council, also patron of the group, has quite a lot to say on the subject saying that she is “sick and tired of people putting Essex Girls down”

“Our girls are bright and fun, but then you see them crumble when people start putting them down for where they come from.

When her daughter was 20, she told someone at a job interview she was from Essex and she could almost see him turn his nose up and she first showed interest in the group when listening to The Weakest Link with Ann Robinson saying to someone ‘are you from Essex? Do you have white stilleto heels? Do you dance around your handbag?’

Elizabeth is also fed up of hearing all the Essex girl jokes.

However, the group is doing some great fundraising work (£38,000 already), helping the women’s refuges in Essex for vulnerable women as well as the Girl Guides and the girls in the Essex Prince’s Trust, so this is great news.

They are holding lots of fundraising events and feel the need to promote Essex.

Mrs Field, of Galleywood, who is involved with the group said: “A lot of the girls we were helping were suffering so much from this image, so we decided to do something”

She also feels that there are so many successful girls in Essex that they wanted to promote this. To avoid embarrassing situations, she says that Essex girls often claim to be from Kent, or just outside London, so as not to be associated with the Essex girl stigma.

She added that there is nothing wrong with being an Essex girl, and that there has been considerable stereotyping of girls living in Essex and this has led them to feel disadvantaged and disenfranchised at times when they reveal where they live.

They are currently organising a celebrity-studded ‘Essex Girl’ Day for the summer which is going to be a celebration of girls and women and the role they can play at all levels of society. It will also help to publicise past and present Essex Girls as role models.

Well, I can see that this charity is doing some great work for the women’s refuge, Princes trust and the girl guides, which is great news and I wish them lots of luck with their fundraising.

However, I think that the ‘Essex girl’ image is old news in some ways, and the white stiletto and dancing round the handbag image was indeed from the 1980’s which is a long time ago now.

I am currently writing my autobiography (not just an essex girl), which is partly set in the 1980’s Essex, and it will outline what really went on, but that is not what the story is based on and mainly about, as it is not topic of the day for people in this day and age. I can agree that I have at times, told people that I am from ‘near London’ when working in Japan for example, to avoid the Essex girl jokes and comments (and yes, they knew all about this image and the jokes!), but I do not do this now, as I am proud of being an Essex girl!

I too, have created my website to help create awareness of Essex people ‘doing great things’ and to help with the stigma of the Essex girl, but I personally, do not know any Essex girls who have a problem with the image in the 21st century. As for Anne Robinson on the weakest link; well, she has a dig at everyone on there and that is what her show is all about, so I don’t think that is a very good example.

I think that bringing the Essex girl back into the limelight has, in some ways, helped to bring it to mind again – certainly it gave the newspapers the chance to dig out some of those old jokes, which was disappointing of the media, albeit predictable. I think it is old news, and bringing it back to people’s minds may bring more negative, than positive results.

I will continue my work on this site, to help decrease the negativity of Essex, promote Essex celebrities, people, places and restaurants, and I wish this charity all the best to help clean up the image and raise money for the women’s refuge.

Sandra 🙂

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