I am not a moron. I don’t spend my days shopping and getting my nails done, nor do I go to trendy nightclubs, nor have aspirations to be a glamour model or a ‘socialite’. Yet, thanks to the latest televisual cesspool from ITV, whenever I tell anyone where I live, this is what they assume. Yes, dear readers, I am from Essex. And as a county, we’ve been getting a bad rap for years. I don’t know whether Chigwell-ites ‘Birds of a Feather’ are to blame, or if it’s something else, but the rest of the world seems to have this impression that we’re vapid simpletons.

Our regional accent is considered to be the epitome of idiocy and if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard an Essex Girl joke, I’d be rich enough to open my own nightclub…*ahem*. But why is this negative stereotype perpetuated? Why do people not think of the intelligent and innovative Essex-born ‘people of note’ when they think of our beautiful county? I bet you didn’t know that the painter John Constable (of The Hay Wain fame) was born in Essex? Or even, indeed, that the setting of the Hay Wain is right here in Essex, a lovely little place called Flatford Mill (where I once went on a Biology A-Level field trip, but that’s a story for another day!) What about Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judy Dench, Rik Mayall, Olympic swimmer Mark Foster, Olympic decathlete Dean Macey, Dudley Moore CBE…need I go on?

So yes, while we do have the onerous title of being the birthplace to John Terry, Jodi Marsh and Chantelle Houghton, they do not represent the masses. The school I attended is rated 14th in the whole country for A-Level results. It’s in Essex. All of its pupils are from Essex. Is this getting through yet?! I may swear like a docker, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the vocabulary to use other words if I needed to. I may have been blonde for many years, but I’ve yet to find a valid equation where blonde + Essex = low IQ.

I know one tiny blog post isn’t going to eradicate decades of Essex girl jokes and page 3 girl assumptions, but please, I’m begging you, when you think of Essex, please don’t think of this:

Think of this:

Hadleigh Castle, built in 1215 by Hubert De Burgh

Or this:

The Hay Wain by John Constable

Or HER:

Dame Helen Mirren

Thank you.