A Big Thank You!

Wow! What a crazy couple of weeks. Thank you to each and every person who has shown support for the Essex Girl campaign. Whether you have signed the petition, shared a photo or used the #IAmAnEssexGirl hashtag. We are just two women and a laptop, so the overwhelming response, both from social media and the press, is testament to the incredible support we have received from everyone along the way. The campaign has been featured in The Times, The Evening Standard, and many other news publications, both online and in print. There were articles in online magazines (Stylist, The PoolMancunian, Artefact) and on blogs (Ditch the Label). The campaign was talked about on multiple radio stations, including BBC radio 1, 2, 5 Live and on various broadcast news channels (ITV, Sky, Channel 5 and even Have I Got News for You!). We also appeared on the sofa on ITV’s This Morning to talk about the campaign.

OUR MEETING WITH OXFORD DICTIONARIES

We understood from the outset that the Oxford Dictionaries and Collins Dictionary are not prescriptive – they record language in use. However, we maintain that the term ‘Essex girl’ as defined in Oxford Dictionaries and Collins English Dictionary is outdated and warrants amendment. We spoke to the Oxford Dictionaries team last week, who told us that the campaign has brought the term to their attention as something that should be reviewed with priority. They noted that they can already see a positive change in the collocates (words that are regularly associated with a term) for ‘Essex girl’. They will have a newly updated corpus (body of text used for statistical analysis of language) in a couple of months, so we have agreed to meet for review at that point. Following this we will also convene for regular updates until we have reached a point where an updated definition can be added and/or the current definition can be marked as obsolete.

A TWO-PRONGED APPROACH

What we mustn’t forget is that the campaign has always had a two-pronged approach. Yes, we had questions for the dictionaries, but most importantly, we also want to finally shake off the negative stereotype by celebrating the incredible achievements of women and girls in/from Essex.  The two approaches work in tandem; by encouraging a positive movement of women to come together to reclaim and redefine 'Essex girl', we are simultaneously contributing to the body of evidence which demonstrates a change in the usage and definition of the term.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Oxford Dictionaries confirmed that language used in print, online and broadcast media serves to provide powerful examples for their records. It is therefore so important to maintain the public discourse. We will also continue to encourage people to use the #IAmAnEssexGirl hashtag on social media and sign the petition with a comment. We're planning to speak at local schools and work with local women's charities. And we will continue to celebrate the real women in/from Essex through The Mother Hub Meets series on our blog, and through our local events.

We feel honoured to have the support of Saskia Clark (Olympic Gold Medalist), Amanda Prowse (best-selling author), Alison Moyet (multi-award winning singer, songwriter and performer), Giovanna Fletcher (best-selling author and presenter) and Jo Wheatley (GBBO winner and best-selling author), along with the Essex Women’s Advisory Group (EWAG), and many local business women and entrepreneurs.

For us, one of most amazing results of the campaign so far has been the community of women who have come together to make a change. You’re all talented, motivated and inspirational, and we are very much looking forward to working alongside you going forward.