A picture of a 16-year-old school leaver appears on Page 3 next to the headline “Sam quits A-Levels for Ooh-Levels!”
27 years later, Page 3 is still as controversial as ever.
Celebrity Come Dine With Me recently feartured (among others) the self-proclaimed world’s first supermodel Janice Dickinson and the Page 3 model and 80s popstar Sam Fox. The format, for those who are unfamiliar, is a series of dinner parties hosted by each contestant on consecutive nights which are rated by the other contestants.
Janice Dickinson: You became the Page 3 girl at sixteen? You see my daughter is sixteen and there is no fucking way I’d let my daughter ever do that. You get famous at sixteen for bearing your breasts under a contract in kind of a scummy magazine?
Sam Fox: No no no… It’s a family newspaper. Madonna showed her boobs, Geri Halliwell showed her boobs…
Janice Dickinson: I’ve showed my boobs in French Vogue, y’know…
Sam Fox: But we all have to start somewhere, but the thing is I would never diss that. I have no regrets in that.
Janice Dickinson: I WILL NOT *slams table* allow my daughter to do it, I’m sorry.
Sam Fox (in interview): Page 3 is an institution in Britain, and it will always be. And it’s not top shelf, it’s a family newspaper. It’s not porn, y’know, it’s a pretty girl, with a nice pair of boobs, with a smile on her face.
I’ve come across similar defences of The Sun’s Page 3 before.
It’s a smiling and attractive girl who just happens to be topless.
It’s an expression of our permissive society.
Or maybe it’s just an invariably white, airbrushed and impossibly thin archetype of femininity.
She is uncomplicated and happy, a smile for the lads playing across her heavily made-up face.
I’m not going to sound out of touch. The Page 3 girls are not coerced. Models queue up to be selected, and the paper’s website even runs a ‘Page 3 Idol’ where women all over the country compete with self-styled shoots for the viewer ratings. Many of the Page 3 photographers are also women.
But we have to ask why.
Let’s not forget. Page 3 was Rupert Murdoch’s drive down-market. It was aiming for the working man. It has nothing to do with women’s rights except that it supposedly supercedes them. “A woman reading Playboy feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual,” says Gloria Steinem, but unfortunately the institutions of soft pornography have recruited women themselves to the cause, under false pretensions that this is true ‘empowerment’.
Here are some factors that appear to contribute:
1) High pay and flexibility.
The jobs market for women who quit their A-levels is poor. Many models think that Page 3 and similar publications benefit them because they ‘couldn’t bare the 9 to 5.’ Looks they were born with, so it’s easy enough to put them to work.
2) If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
There is an attitude that the best approach to female sexuality is exhibitionism. It would be a waste, they say, to deprive the world of topless pictures of these women. It is seen as a celebration of ‘beauty’, despite the fact that the audience is mostly males with scant regard for this ‘artwork’ before them.
“SIXTEEN Page 3 Girls in all their glory represent the very image of freedom in this country,” as The Sun said in it’s ‘save these girls from the dole queue’ article. Is it such an expression of women’s freedom to take their clothes off for money? To allow a national newspaper to distribute their topless image throughout the country and wider world?
Page 3 is not and has never been about women, freedom, beauty or art.
It’s about making money, selling newspapers and transforming women into a consumer product along the way.
As a small town in Serbia erected a statue of Sam Fox in 2007, one fan had this to say:
“We are aware that her most famous attributes may require special treatment, so we are planning on using the best quality marble only.”
WOMEN HAVE BETTER ATTRIBUTES THAN THIS.
THESE WOMEN ARE A MARKETING TOOL, NOTHING MORE.
SO WITH THAT IN MIND, DOES PAGE 3 REPRESENT A MODERN BRITAIN?
This article was originally posted on i-am-the-lighthouse.tumblr.com
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