By now, I expect most of you are aware of the No More Page 3 campaign which was set up last summer. Its main aim is to encourage The Sun to take the bare boobs out of (what is somehow) Britain’s best-selling newspaper.
I’m a supporter of the campaign. I don’t understand why a newspaper needs to print a full-page picture of a near-naked woman every day of the week right at the start of the paper, or anywhere in the newspaper for that matter. Not being able to understand this, I naturally thought I was missing something, so I gave it some thought and couldn’t come up with a reason. Then I gave it some more thought, and a little more, and a little more, but still, I can’t come up with a single reason for it.
I can, however, think of several reasons why it should be gotten rid of. Let’s go through them.
Firstly, it’s completely inappropriate. My problem here isn’t with boobs; it’s with boobs in a newspaper. There’s a place for that, and in print media, that place is on the newsagents’ top shelf, out of reach of impressionable youngsters and out of daily newspapers, the main focus of which should be to deliver news. I know that in response to this, fans of Page 3 will say something along the lines of “Don’t like it, don’t buy it” (or something equally as snappy), but the fact is, I don’t buy it, I never have bought it, but it’s still there and most days I see a copy lying around somewhere. And anyway, that’s not the only problem I have with Page 3.
Printing that picture demeans women. Even after decades and decades of campaigning for equality, and rightly gaining it, some men (and not all of them, trust me) still treat women as though they are nothing more than objects or possessions that serve no purpose other than to gratify men, and that’s terrible; women should be seen for who they are, not simply how they look. I accept, Page 3 can’t be held solely responsible for that, but its position in everyday media means it goes a huge way to building and normalising the sexualised society we live in.
At this point, fans of Page 3 will most likely say “…But it’s the model’s choice.” And, actually, they’d be right; I can’t argue with that. I’d consider it to be an awful shame that a young woman felt that was the best route for her, but I couldn’t argue with it. My concern, though, would be for the women who haven’t made that choice and still have to live with the culture that stems from it. That in itself isn’t right. Their skills, achievements, ambitions and successes are overlooked or become devalued because there’s a topless woman on Page 3, and if she’s happy to be leered over, every other woman must be okay with it too, right? WRONG! That woman should be considered for who she is, not for what some members of society expect her to be.
The next point I’ll make continues from something I alluded to earlier; the impact Page 3 has on impressionable young people. Young girls will grow up thinking they need to look beautiful, that they need to look like that woman in the paper; if they don’t, they’re undesirable, they’ll be unsuccessful. And it’s that kind of mind-set which makes depression rates in teenage girls rocket. Once again, that’s wrong and we should do everything we can to change it. The value of a person – any person – lies within and nobody should be evaluated purely on the way they look.
Young boys are affected by Page 3, too. Seeing a topless woman at the front of the daily newspaper will instill the wrong message in boys’ minds. It’ll make them think it’s acceptable to treat women in a demeaning and unfair manner and to overlook any other qualities they hold. It’s embarrassing enough that happens today, in the 21st century no less; we can’t let it flow into generations to come.
And so onto my next point; youngsters should have proper role models to look up to and be inspired by. Enough of the celebrity culture and fake beauty, both of which The Sun seems to thrive on; there are so many people, from all walks of life, who can inspire us, from writers and businesspeople to teachers and voluntary workers, not to mention all of the amazing athletes from last year’s Olympics. I think taking the bare boobs off Page 3 – and out of widely-available media generally – and putting less of an emphasis on ‘beauty’ will encourage youngsters to focus on their inner qualities and stop buying in to the beauty industry like so many people do today. I’m not saying it’s wrong to make yourself look good, there are just more important things to first consider.
I’m so pleased that the work Lucy Holmes and the many thousands of supporters have put into this campaign have made me – and many others, I’m sure – think about what Page 3 actually is. It’s not just a page with a picture of a topless woman; it’s something which has encouraged an entire culture to develop, one that isn’t so wholesome.
Show your support for the No More Page 3 campaign and sign the petition here.
I originally wrote this piece for The Student Magazine.