Using Page 3 girls to promote breast cancer awareness is a clever move by The Sun. It highlights a very worthy cause. It’s also offensive, disingenuous and downright manipulative.
Taking people’s traumatic experiences of cancer and twisting them to foster support for a sexist, outdated institution is low, even by tabloid standards. Screaming PAGE 3 V BREAST CANCER, their headline implied that if you didn’t support Page 3, then you must be in favour of breast cancer. As no one is in favour of breast cancer, everyone must now support Page 3, it suggests. It’s difficult to knock anything which could save another woman from breast cancer, could spare another family from the agony of losing their mother, their sister, their daughter. Campaigning against Page 3 fades into insignificance against that heartbreak. However pitting one cause against another like this is not only crude, it’s also totally wide of the mark. Being against Page 3 and supporting breast cancer awareness makes more sense than the other way round.
Putting a topless woman on the third page of a national newspaper for no reason other than possessing pretty mammaries is damning to women, their achievements and contribution to society. I’m against Page 3 because I think there’s more to being a woman than having nice breasts. Arguably Page 3 is even more of an anathema to breast cancer survivors, who are more likely to feel life is more than having a perfect body and perky breasts.
The type of attitudes embodied in Page 3 and the images involved in the ‘Check ‘Em Tuesday’ drive are at total odds with the reality of breast cancer and offering support to those who have suffered with it. Being to do with boobs doesn’t automatically make a cancer sexy. As anyone who has lived with or experienced breast cancer will tell you, if there was a poster girl, it certainly wouldn’t be a sexy young woman in knickers playing peekaboo with her nipples. Instead it might be somebody scarred but happy to be alive, surrounded by their grateful happy friends and family.
This campaign hasn’t revolutionised Page 3 or given a boost to breast cancer sufferers. Today it features Mel, 21, from Kent, not a woman over 40, which is when the large majority of women are diagnosed with breast cancer. She has perfect breasts, not mastectomy scars. Like thousands of other women, I checked my breasts yesterday thanks to The Sun, so let's not overlook their power in raising awareness, and for that they should be applauded. But don’t tell me to respect my body on Tuesday, when you disrespect it every other day of the week.