Boobs are not news. Half of the population have them and we all know what they look like.
So why does the nation’s most widely read newspaper feel the need to flaunt them on Page 3? Lucy-Anne Holmes, leader of the “No More Page 3” campaign, is demanding answers.
In a recent petition addressed to Dominic Mohan, editor of The Sun, Holmes has asked “very nicely” to “please, please, please” take topless girls out of the paper. Notably, when MP Clare Short tried to do the same in 1986, The Sun dismissed her as a boring killjoy and even produced an entire spread of Page 3 girls in a protest against her efforts. However, history aside, Holmes’ new campaign, which began in September, has amassed nearly 50,000 supporters including the likes of celebrities such as Dawn Porter and Lauren Laverne. With a target of one million signatures, there is still a fair distance to go but Holmes is determined to irradiate this misogynistic tradition that condones the objectification of women in the media.
Since 1970 The Sun, Britain’s leading tabloid, has printed photographs of semi-nude glamour models that circulate daily around breakfast tables and staff rooms across the country. A projected ideal of the female form is thrust under the noses of readers, many of whom account for the impressionable young generation.
“What saddens me,” says Holmes “is the effect this ‘women as a sexual object’ culture has on young people.” Young boys learn that it is acceptable to degrade and objectify women whilst young girls see the glamorised and unrealistic female figure as a norm “they fall short of.” Terence Blacker, a writer for The Independent, has lauded Holmes’s efforts stating that “those ridiculous photographs belong to another age and should be an embarrassment to those who publish them.”
The campaign has also won some surprising support. Nina Carter, one of the first Page 3 girls in the 1970s, has spoken out about her experiences as a glamour model.
“It was a very different world back then,” she explained. “I have a daughter now and I wouldn’t want her to be any part of [the] industry [today].”
In addition, former FHM editor Ross Brown has showed his support. Commenting in a recent interview he said “you can’t defend the indefensible. I think there’s a time and a place – and we’re past it.” However many have taken a lassiez-faire attitude towards the campaign. Comments such as “if you don’t like it, don’t look” have been sprawled all over the internet and some disgruntled tweeters have argued that “given the variety of our newspapers, Page 3 is easily avoided.” Britain upholds a freedom of speech that allows publications to print whatever they see fit, within certain guidelines. For this reason, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg declined to back the campaign on the grounds that it would be “deeply illiberal” for the government to dictate the content of newspapers.
British society is somewhat hypocritical when it comes to prurient matters. There was national outcry when topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge appeared in French tabloids, yet regular photos of Page 3 models are unabashed. What is more, This Morning, one of the country’s most popular daytime talk shows, shares wholesome recipes and deals with topical current affairs but is presented by ex-lingerie model Holly Willoughby who boasts the “best celebrity cleavage.”
The nude Page 3 glamour model plays a role in the wider “pornification” of society in general. Whilst imploring Mohan to cease print of such images will not single handedly solve the issue, Lucy-Anne Holmes believes it is a positive step in the right direction.
There is a time and a place for breasts, and Holmes simply argues that Page 3 is not it. George Alagiah does not introduce the six o’clock news with a topless model; is it too much to expect the same for our newspapers?