At work, we read papers every morning, to see what’s going on in the world and if there is anything relevant we can use for our clients (I’m a PR gal). I usually pick up ‘The Sun’, because I’m never ready for anything heavy at 9am and The Financial Times scares me a lot. So, I pick it up, open it, and I’m greeted by a gorgeous woman staring back at me, with her top off.
For 9am, this is usually a bit much for me. #prude
But, the past couple of weeks saw a change in the waters. There has been outcry by Feminist movements and women in general, asking for an end to Page 3, stating that showing a woman standing there topless is nothing but blatant sexism, and soft porn in one of the nation’s biggest selling tabloid newspapers is simply unacceptable. Petitions were signed, hashtags were created, and all of a sudden it became news that Page 3 was ending. The movements sighed a breath of relief, and people sung ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ in celebration (this last note was perhaps a fabrication).
But then, all of a sudden, The Sun did this…
It was all an elaborate PR stunt, and the nation felt stupid. Stupid to have believed that such a thing would ever happen without concrete proof. There was no official statement, it was simply word of mouth, and never confirmed or denied. The Head of PR for The Sun then went on to troll journalists fighting for the abolishment of the page. Not cool.
But all this got me thinking. What is so wrong with Page 3?
I interned in The Sun building, and saw the process for hiring Page 3 models. A bubbly, chatty, bright and attractive woman came in, they ushered her into the fashion cupboard and shut the door. 10 minutes later, she emerged and left. Clearly, it was to get privacy so they could snap her without her top on. At first, I felt this was seedy, a bit uncomfortable, and that I was adamantly against Page 3. I felt it was disgusting that women were splashed all over the page with no top on, simply for builders to gawp at on their tea break. It’s the 21st Century, and women should be celebrated for their mind and actions rather than their chest.
But then, I saw another side.
A friend of mine is a Page 3 model, and she is one of the prettiest, sassiest, strongest, girls I have met. She has her own business, her own income, and a pretty impressive CV. So, I thought I’d ask her how she felt about all the publicity page 3 is getting. She said:
Walking into my first page 3 shoot I will admit that half of me didn't know how it would feel being topless in a room full of strangers - it's slightly different to stripping off whilst getting ready with your mates. However I am not one to pass up an opportunity and I am glad I did as that eventually funded me setting up my own business, but this was not the only way it helped me. At first the thought of being around all of these gorgeous girls was a tad daunting but turned out to be the thing that helped me truly find my self confidence. These girls are real, they are not perfect, and they are confident in their own skin. That's what page 3 is about. Beautiful girls flashing a smile and a bit of flesh... and actually, that's what feminism should be about, equality for women and empowering each other to express ourselves how we choose to.
This got me thinking again, what's wrong with feeling confident?
Page 3 is confusing. It’s a constant battle between right and wrong, and I’m still not sure where I stand on it. On the one hand, I feel that if women want to do this and feel this is the route they want their career to go down, then go ahead. Why not? They get paid, they feel confident, they want something they can look back on when they’re old. Also, there are so many campaigns about ‘Free The Nipple’, and The Sun openly show this every day…But, alternatively, I do think it is incredibly backwards to have a near-naked woman in the paper, purely for people to gasp at. I also believe that newspapers should focus on news, and boobs certainly ain't news bros...they've been around for years. Get over it.
The Sun also sticks to conventional levels of beauty with Page 3, only showing curvy girls who are beautiful, you never see a woman with a scar from breast cancer, or women who don’t shave their arm pits, or bald women. This goes against the other hard work The Sun do to raise awareness for women’s issues, such as their fantastic work with Coppafeel. Why not use Page 3 to normalise unconventional beauty? Or make poster girls of women who are strong, confident, have overcome adversity, as well as the odd bombshell? This is something that I feel would transform a backwards idea into a completely modern way of thinking, and would be praised.
The main point of this post is to encourage another way of thinking. Whilst I am certainly not backing Page 3, I feel that there is another way we can use this. Encourage change and difference in the world using such a massive platform, and attitudes around us might change. Shows like 'The Undateables' gawking at people's physical differences may not have as much leverage if difference was embraced. Take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.
I hope you agree, and if you don’t that’s ok too.
Until next time xo