Page 3: With boobs like this, what else could I do?

We're told Page 3 isn't misogynist, but the way they undermine women has to stop.

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“Fancy taking a gorgeous topless Page 3 girl for a spin? That’s exactly what you can do with The Sun’s great iPad app.” There are “interactive animations which bring to life the nation’s favourite models before your eyes.” A big thank you to The Sun for all those who are fans of the derrière, as opposed to breast lovers.

During the Leveson enquiry, editor of The Sun, Dominic Mohan, described topless Page 3 girls as “good role models” who are “very healthy”. Further commenting “some of the allegations I’ve heard about the Sun being sexist… is a false one.”

Don’t we realise Page 3 isn’t about sex or misogyny?

The girls are smiling! They’re empowered! And now…practically in 3D!

Empowering – very specifically it seems – if you’re white, under 25 and have massive jugs. At the time of searching, the first one hundred girls on Page3.com, only two have listed with ages over 25, one is black, two sisters even appear in one image with their breasts pressed up against one another.

The average age across the first hundred is 21, bra size is 32D (not a single AA or A cup, this isn’t “healthy”, apparently) with a 24 inch waist and hip size of 34 inches.

The average bra size in real life is now 36D, with a 30in waist and 36in hips.

It may not be chasing the malnourished ideal as seen on catwalks but it is the Barbie girl ideal – a tiny waist and large breasts. A curvy figure also doesn’t necessarily mean one at the pinnacle of health.

While the comments on the site are undoubtedly amusing, browsing through can leave you with a twinge of discomfort:

Peta Todd 21, from from Essex

“With boobs like this what else could I do?”

Emma Davis 20, from Birmingham

“I’m ready to turn my hand to anything.”

Ruth Gordon 22, from Surrey

“You can’t expect me to have brains as well?”

Do they realise the irony? Do they mind?

A selection of comments that infer: You’re wasting big boobs if you cover them up; an innuendo Ron Jeremy would be proud of, oh and that you can only have beauty or brains.

That’s the message of a good role model?

One girl I saw on the site, Peta Todd, has spoken a great deal about charity work she’s done in the past - perhaps that would be something to talk about.

During the Leveson Enquiry, Anna Van Heeswijk, campaigner against Page 3, also accused tabloids with images of semi-naked women of “creating a culture of fear which silences … anybody speaking out against the portrayal of women as sex objects”. She noted the example of former MP Clare Short who was bullied and branded a jealous, fat, killjoy by The Sun when she made her opposition to the famous third page heard. Would a man be subjected to vicious jibes at his appearance for the same criticisms?

Writing about the topic, you have to brace yourself for comments of the same nature.

Part of the moral defence is that the girls are natural – no boob jobs. But many more well-known Page 3 girls have gone onto have breast enlargements (Nicola McLean, Lauren Pope, Katie Price, Jodie Marsh). Perhaps once some girls are known for one thing, they feel they’re exposed to criticism and a lack of career options if they aren’t deemed impressively enough endowed.

As with “News in briefs”, which Rebekah Brooks introduced in 2003, why even give the girls an opinion? It’s almost more exploitative and condescending, the implicit message being that the women have to get their baps out to be heard. Or given the chance to voice an opinion.

Speaking to Nicola McClean, Page 3 girl for The Sun during 1999-2004, she comments how when asked to write her opinion, she’d tell them to write it themselves as it was “stupid and pointless”. Further adding: “Most of the girls aren’t really dumb, so it shouldn’t make them out to be dumb. Does anyone read it? Do they care what a Page 3 girl says about politics? No.” She also said that a lot of girls feel the need to lie about their age to make themselves appear younger.

I understand that sex sells; if I’m posting an article where a picture of a scantily clad woman can be used, this is unquestionably preferable as it gets people clicking. A story about Olympic Volleyball players shot straight to the most viewed recently. I also personally wrote a naked photoshoot feature and described how the experience of being photographed nude can indeed be liberating – but it was my words and opinions coming across, I wasn’t being undermined.

There are several counter-arguments that are churned out each time a discussion of this sort is broached: it’s a way to make money, breasts are just a part of the body, it’s harmless fun… There are of course passable defences but, ultimately, some of these women feeling that they had no feasible career options that involved skill, training or education is sad to see. Especially if at 25 they’re going to be considered past it. (Of course this applies more broadly to modelling as a profession.)

There is nothing wrong with soft porn. It’s natural to want to see the human form uncovered, and if it’s a way to earn a living which anyone feels comfortable with, so be it.

But don’t post pictures of women under the guise of offering them a view and the pretence of being a role model – then unreservedly undermine them.

Page 3 turned 40 in 2010; if it isn’t time to put the girls away, can we finally be honest about what Page 3 is all about?

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