I am an Essex Girl and proud! It hasn’t always been the case, the proud bit that is. When I left college and started working in my late teens, an unhelpful radio DJ created the infamous “Sharon & Tracy” stereotype Essex Girls, with their white stilettos and loose moral behaviour which swept the nation and unfortunately stuck in people’s minds.
On my first holiday abroad with my friends at the age of 19, we felt forced to ‘exaggerate the truth’ and say we were from East London rather than Essex, to avoid every young virile man in Corfu to expect us to live up to the Sharon or Tracy character. Despite Essex being a diverse county with beautiful countryside and beaches, steeped in history and with a cultural mix of people, Essex Girls are still today regarded as brainless sluts thanks to the introduction of the programme The Only Way Is Essex!
Now I can take a joke, I have had to cope with a bit of ridicule having worked in the media with colleagues mainly from London or surrounding ‘posh’ areas such as Surrey or Sussex. However, it does get my back up when shows like TOWIE do not seem to give a balanced view of the people in the area I live, as it is filmed only 5 miles from my house.
I am prepared to forgive any girl under the age of 20 to feel they need to wear the TOWIE uniform of fake tan, eyelashes and hair extensions. In our formative years we all feel the need to experiment with our style, often adopting a similar look to our friends or celebrity idols. My cousin and I pretty much had a prayer mat dedicated to Susannah Hoffs from The Bangles in our teenage years, adopting the crispy backcombed perm and hooped earrings, along with the pearlised pink lipstick and pout. This is human nature and important that we try out different looks and express ourselves when we are at an immature age. But the danger of the TOWIE cast is the amount of surgery the female cast members indulge in, pretty much all of them have had a boob job, botox and veneers. TOWIE cast member Chloe, who has admitted to having her “teeth done to go for the look of a horse”, has also had bottom implants to make her “bum more uplifted!” Jeez, I’m glad I don’t have a teenage daughter being influenced by this programme.
What really gets my back-up with TOWIE though is the sheer stupidy of the cast. With the likes of Joey Essex wearing shoes 2 sizes too small in order to avoid a crease across his toes, to Amy Childs asking ‘Is Ireland a different country to Wales?”
I can happily say that none of my friends are anything like the cast of TOWIE, they might indulge in the odd beauty therapy but have also held down impressive careers in banking, fashion and journalism, can hold a conversation without using the words ‘reem’ or ‘well jel’ and we never tell each other to ‘shuttup’!!