TV soap ‘The Only Way is Essex’ was today criticised for stereotyping Essex girls as ‘dumb blondes’ whose only ambitions were to marry footballers.
‘The Only Way is Essex’ follows a young group of party loving people whose lives centre around clubbing, tanning and preening.
The ITV2 show, which has only been running for a fortnight, was yesterday criticised by women’s groups as depicting Essex girls as ‘dumb brainless blondes’.
It depicts a photogenic group of young twenty somethings as they go about their ‘daily lives’ of clubbing and shopping.
The show follows similar American docu-soaps like The Hills and Jersey Shore as part-reality part fiction.
But campaigners yesterday slammed the hour-long programme claiming it had undone years of hard work by groups attempting to shed the negative stereotype.
Daphne Field, of Essex Women’s Advisory Group, said: ”While many may see this as a harmless bit of fun it is actually very damaging.
”Not only does it pander to an out-dated cliched stereotype which we have been desperate to move away from, but it actually perpetuates this myth to impressionable young people.
”The attitudes represent a tiny minority and to depict Essex in this manner is very negative.
”I watched the first 20 minutes of the dreadful programme and was forced to turn off because it was so poorly done.
”Essex women are more than just dumb blonde bimbo’s with no brains and it is a real shame that this programme is undoing a generation of hard work to dispel this myth.”
Business coach and founder of the Business Woman’s Network in Essex, Mandie Holgate, 37, agreed the programme played to outdated stereotypes.
She said: ”Being a businesswoman in this area I’m incredibly proud of the passionate and driven women running businesses in Essex.
”The ideas that come from women in Essex are amazing. Why not create a programme about that?
”Women portrayed in this programme seem to believe that taking their clothes off is the best way to make money and become famous.
”So much work has gone into changing the image of the ‘Essex girl’ and this programme is taking us back years.
”The greatest damage is to the younger generation who don’t have a strong sense of self. It sends them completely the wrong message.”
The programme was first screened on October 10 and has centred heavily on the newly reopened Sugar Hut, in Brentwood High Street.
Several of the characters in the show were hand-picked from producers after being spotted partying at the venue -a favourite with Pixie Lott and glamour model Jodie Marsh.
Louise McKinlay, leader of Brentwood Borough Council, said: ”Essex is very diverse; it is what makes it so unique and the people so interesting.
”I am sure many residents will identify with people in the show and there will be many who will not.
”Personally, I don’t. Essex people are ambitious, entrepreneurial and like to have fun.
”I don’t take the stereotype too seriously and these are real people who you would find anywhere in England, nit just Essex.”