Take a look in the Collins dictionary, and the entry for “Essex girl” still reads: “A young working-class woman from the Essex area, typically considered as being unintelligent, materialistic, devoid of taste, and sexually promiscuous.”

Frustrated with this negative stereotype, four women living and working in the Southend area have set out a new project, the Essex Girls Liberation Front (EGLF) to redefine the term.

They include author Syd Moore, producer Jo Farrugia, artist and creative activist Elsa James, and actor and co-artistic director of Old Trunk Theatre Sarah Mayhew.

Ms James said: “Some people think that the definition isn’t important, but something as negative and as stereotypical as that can have a huge impact on the opportunities that women from this borough can have.

“The ‘Essex girl’ reputation may be seen as a bit of a harmless fun, but when you actually pick it apart it can be really damaging. I don’t want my daughters, or any other woman, to be labelled with these damaging, regressive stereotypes.”

Founding member Ms Moore first became concerned while working as a publishing tutor at South Essex College, after female students reported to her that they had been asked about being Essex girls during job interviews.

Ms Farrugia said: “Of course the stereotype has been with us for a long time, and part of our work is determining where this identity came from, but it’s hard to believe that in a professional setting somebody would think it appropriate to bring something with such negative connotations up.

“It’s depressing that we even have to do so, but we feel it’s important people know that women in this county are so much more than an old-fashioned stereotype.”

Though the issue has been raised in recent years with the #IAmAnEssexGirl campaign in 2016 to get the listing removed from the Oxford English Dictionary, the EGLF are approaching the issue from an alternative angle.

Rather than removing the unflattering definition from the dictionary, which campaigners have previously been told is not possible due to it being a historical record, the group are hoping to instead have the definition altered and acknowledged as out-of-date.

EGLF are also developing a strong online presence in order to change the results that appear in Google after searching Essex Girl, which they hope will improve the modern day perception of how the rest of the country - and beyond - view Essex women.

Ms Mayhew said: “I travelled quite a lot as a dancer and even as far away as Mexico people knew about the reputation us Essex girls have - we’re asking why and what we can do to change that. There’s so many amazing, creative, empowering things that women here are doing, and we can’t let that be lost behind all these negative perceptions.

“We encourage women to be whoever they want to be, and if they identify with the stereotype that’s great. We just don’t want girls to be trapped within the definition - and that’s why we are trying to give women the opportunity to define themselves.”

They plan to join a number of upcoming events and campaigns via social media.