End of the WAGs? Experts say it's not fitting for new era of women

RIP WAG? Expert says term coined in era of Cheryl, Coleen Rooney and Victoria Beckham shouldn’t apply to current partners of the England squad because they’re ‘more academic’ – as Frankie Bridge calls it ‘insulting’

  • Frankie Bridge, 32, has been married to ex-footballer Wayne Bridge since 2015
  • Mother-of-two says she found term WAG ‘insulting’ as she had her own career 
  • Pop culture expert Nick Ede says ‘refreshing new breed of WAGs have emerged’
  • Wag Wars author Sam Kimberley says new WAGs have ‘more understated style’

England fans across the country will be cheering on the national squad during tonight’s semi-final with Denmark, and none more so than the latest generation of WAGs. 

However, many have noticed that this year’s group of ‘wives and girlfriends’ are making a concerted effort to stay out of the spotlight, a world away from the fake-tanned, big-haired glamazons who have graced stadium stands in the past.   

According to popular culture commentator Nick Ede, the WAG as we know it – born in the era of Cheryl, Coleen Rooney and Victoria Beckham – is already no more, with a new breed of partners emerging, who are pursuing more high-brow careers.

Ede told FEMAIL that a new type of WAG who is ‘understated, supportive, academic and subtle’ has come on the scene, keeping their attention on the pitch rather than the camera, with career paths including everything from physiotherapy to modelling, property development and law.

Today, former star of girlband The Saturdays, Frankie Bridge, who is married to one-time England star Wayne Bridge, spoke out against the term, branding it ‘insulting and derogatory’. 

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Pop culture expert Nick Ede told FEMAIL the WAG as we know it is no more. Pictured; Cheryl, Coleen Rooney and Victoria Beckham cheering on their partners at the World Cup in 2006 

The WAGs of England’s current Euro stars are pictured showing their support for their partners back at the tournament’s start in June. (Pictured left to right: Kieran Trippier’s wife Charlotte; Jordan Pickford’s fiancé Megan Davison; Harry Maguire’s fiancé Fern Hawkins; Kyle Walker’s wife Annie Kilner and Luke Shaw’s girlfriend Anouska Santos)

Speaking on ITV’s Loose Women this morning, Frankie said: ‘I found it really frustrating because, let’s be honest, it means wives and girlfriends. So technically it’s not offensive, but they don’t refer to Wayne as a ‘HAB’ and it is used as a derogatory term. 

‘That’s why I don’t like it and it used to annoy me, because I’ve worked for years in the public eye, they know I have my own career and even if I didn’t, why am I now this thing just because I’m married to someone that plays this sport?’ 

Frankie and Wayne met in 2011 and welcomed their first son Parker in October 2013, marrying the following year at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire before Frankie gave birth to a second son, Carter in 2015.

In 2012, Frankie, 32, was forced to step down from The Saturdays when she was hospitalised with depression, which the star has been battling from the age of 15. 

Former Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge, who is married to retired England footballer Wayne Bridge, spoke out this morning against the term WAG, branding it ‘insulting and derogatory’ 

After being admitted to a psychiatric ward in 2011, she told the BBC’s Morning Live last year that the experience made her realise her supportive partner Wayne, 40, was ‘a keeper’. 

Frankie later added: ‘You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t as someone married to a player, people don’t like it if a wife or a girlfriend of a player is on TV making money, people don’t like that – saying she’s living off the back of him or whatever’.  

Unlike the much-loved WAGs of yesteryear such as Coleen Rooney, Victoria Beckham and Cheryl, who garnered just as much attention as their footballer counterparts, Nick believes the new era of women supporting their partners offers a ‘refreshing’ change.  

‘Gone are the days of fake everything when WAGS were splashed across the tabloids with fake tan, high heels and hair extensions’, said Nick. ‘When Cheryl, Coleen and Posh ruled the stands it was all about more is more in the make-up department and less is more in the clothing department. 

Nick agreed that in stark contrast to the headline-grabbing past WAGs, this year wives include much more private women such as Katie Kane. Pictured watching her husband play during England’s first Euros match  

Jordan Pickford’s wife Megan Davison is pictured in the stands ahead of watching her husband play his first Euros match on June 13th

‘Now the new breed of Wags have emerged and its refreshing to see that they are understated, supportive, academic and subtle.’

Meanwhile, Wag Wars author Sam Kimberley believes that the wives and girlfriend’s of England’s national squad are stepping away from the clichés that come with being a WAG, and instead navigating their own career path away from the public eye.  

‘Today’s WAGS are very different from the traditional clichés of strutting girls with big hair, fake tans and sky-high stilettos,’ she told the Telegraph. 

‘They’re not trophies – they are a new generation of graduates and businesswomen with careers of their own and a far more understated sense of style.’ 

Nick agreed that in stark contrast to the headline grabbing past WAGs, this year wives include much more private women such as Katie Kane, who supports her husband Harry with sweet Instagram posts of her children in England shirts with their faces out of view. 

Gorgeous Mia McClenaghan is not just a pretty face, having just finished her Law Degree at Royal Holloway University

Fern Hawkins has been dating Leicester defender Harry Maguire for nine years, with the couple recently getting engaged. The Sheffield beauty is a First Class Graduate in physiotherapy

Raheem Sterling and fiancé Paige Milian (seen on a sun-kissed holiday earlier this year) have set up a new company called Milian Property Group Ltd and she says they plan to add to their property portfolio 

It’s this subtle approach that makes a refreshing change and totally suits a new era of WAGs’, he said. 

The attention should be on the pitch and not the stands and WAGs now enjoy their anonymity and the fact that they don’t need to dress up to the nines to court attention for themselves or their partners’, he said. 

‘WAGs like Harry Maguire’s fiancé Fern Hawkins have actual jobs; she is a physiotherapist and Mia McClenaghan, Reese James’ girlfriend, who studied law at London University, actively defended him when he was faced with racial slurs.

‘Raheem Sterling’s fiancée, Paige Milian is an ambitious young woman, working in sports management and, as a property developer, managing the properties she owns. 

‘Ahead of the big games, it’s great to see that wags have evolved and the name WAG starts to lose its previous connotations – it’s taking on a much more sophisticated and somewhat sensible meaning in 2021.’

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