ACCORDING to the lazy stereotypes, Essex girls are a bit ditzy, wear white stilettos and are plastered in fake tan.

The image, perpetuated by TV shows like the Only Way is Essex, has been blamed for lowering youngsters’ ambitions.

Now a charity is trying to get people to challenge that myth, by focusing on the women who have changed history.

Signals Media Arts Centre, in St Runwald Street, Colchester, has received £44,000 lottery funding for a project on the issue.

Amy Mountney, the charity’s education co-ordinator and a born and bred Essex girl, said: “It has always stayed with me, wherever I have gone.

“We have been fighting against a label for a long time. It is quite a challenge for girls.

“Essex girls are quite outspoken, but we are really passionate, articulate and really business savvy – and that has been proved through the ages.”

Signals Media wants 14 to 18 year olds to get involved in the project, and is holding a taster session on Monday, March 17, from 4.30pm to 7pm.

Anyone interested in taking part can e-mail

Read the full story in today's Gazette.