Women from Essex are demanding that the term “Essex girl” be removed from the dictionary because they don’t like the stereotype it describes.
Some 5,000 people have signed a pompous screed on Change.org objecting to the way the Oxford English Dictionary notes that Essex girls are “variously characterized as unintelligent, promiscuous, and materialistic”.
This video featuring The Only Way Is Essex star Amy Childs shows the modern-day stereotype in full swing:
The Change.org petitioners are upset that the stereotype – which they refer to as “invented” – could encompass women who live in Essex who aren’t actually like that.
As so they are urging Essex folk to pressure dictionaries into scrubbing the term from their pages, and tweeting #IAmAnEssexGirl (even if… they’re not from Essex).
— Holly Raven (@HollyHoo) October 13, 2016
As you might expect, not *every single woman* from a county of 1.8million people fits the bill. As the petition notes, some of them are even paramedics and teachers.
But it is rooted in reality (likewise the matching “Essex Man”, which has not sparked a petition) – and the runaway success of The Only Way Is Essex is because it resonates with something people recognise from real life.
The petition also misunderstands how a dictionary is supposed to work. It is a record of language as it is *actually is*, rather than what some campaigners think it ought to be.
— Anna Reynolds (@AnnaLouReynolds) October 13, 2016
A spokesman for the Oxford English Dictionary confirmed to Heat Street that they do not change their definitions because of petitions – and nor will they this time.
In a scrupulously polite blog post, the editor explain: “The only way to ensure that a dictionary definition is changed is to bring about change in the way the word is used.
“That is, language change brings about dictionary change, rather than the other way around.”