Page 3 is a feature found in the British tabloid newspaper The Sun. The phrase originates with the publication of a large photograph of a topless, bare-breasted female glamour model usually published on the print edition's third page.The feature first appeared in the newspaper on 17 November 1970 and on the official Page 3 website since June 1999. The terms "Page 3" and "Page Three" are registered trademarks of News UK, parent company of The Sun, although the feature has been imitated in Britain's other 'red top' tabloids and by newspapers internationally.
Page 3 is popular with Sun readers, but has also attracted sustained controversy. Critics argue that Page 3 objectifies and demeans women, while others believe that it should not appear in a generally circulated national newspaper. Some campaigners advocated for legislation to ban Page 3, while others have tried to convince newspaper editors to voluntarily drop the feature or modify it so that models no longer appear topless. The No More Page 3 campaign was launched in 2012.
The Irish edition of The Sun dropped topless Page 3 models in August 2013. After an article appeared in stablemate The Times in January 2015, it seemed the UK editions had dropped the feature too, but this turned out to be untrue.
Beginnings and early years
When Rupert Murdoch relaunched the flagging Sun newspaper in tabloid format on 17 November 1969, he began publishing photographs of clothed glamour models on its third page. The first edition featured that month's Penthouse Pet, Ulla Lindstrom, wearing a suggestively unbuttoned shirt. Page 3 photographs over the following year were often provocative, but did not feature nudity.
The individual who decided to introduce the Page 3 feature, whether it was editor Larry Lamb or Murdoch, is in dispute, but on 17 November 1970, the tabloid celebrated its first anniversary by publishing a photograph of 20-year-old German model Stephanie Rahn in her "birthday suit" (i.e., in the nude). Sitting in a field with one of her breasts visible from the side, Rahn was photographed by Beverley Goodway, who became The Sun 's principal Page 3 photographer until he retired in 2003. Lamb thought the models featured should be "nice girls" and believed that "big-breasted girls look like tarts". Intended to be a feature which was "breezy, not sleazy", Chris Horrie wrote in 1995 that it was planned as comparable to the naturism of Health and Efficiency magazine rather than top-shelf pornography titles.
Page 3 was not a strictly daily feature at the beginning of the 1970s. The Sun only gradually began to feature Page 3 models in more overtly topless poses, with their nipples clearly visible. The feature, and the paper's other sexual content, quickly led to The Sun being banned from some public libraries, the first such decision being taken by a Conservative council in Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire. In this case, the decision was reversed after a series of local stunts organised by the newspaper, and a change in the council's political orientation in 1971.
The feature is partly credited with the increased circulation that established The Sun as one of the most popular newspapers in the United Kingdom by the mid-1970s. In an effort to compete with The Sun, the Daily Mirror and Daily Star tabloids also began publishing images of topless women, although the Daily Mirror stopped featuring topless models in the 1980s, deeming the photographs demeaning to women.
Since the mid-1990s
The Sun made some stylistic changes to Page 3 in the mid-1990s. It became standard to print Page 3 photographs in colour rather than in black and white. Captions to Page 3 photographs, which previously contained sexually suggestive double entendre, were replaced by a simple listing of models' first names, ages, and hometowns. After polling its readers, The Sun also instituted a policy of only featuring models with natural breasts in 1997. Although The Sun ordinarily features only one Page 3 model in each edition, a pictorial sometimes shows two or more women posed together. A special pictorial in 2009 to celebrate 40 years of Page 3 lined up 15 Page 3 women posed together.
In June 1999, The Sun launched its official Page 3 website, Page3.com, which features the tabloid's daily Page 3 girl in three different poses, including the photograph published in the printed edition. On 1 August 2013, coinciding with the launch of the subscription-based website Sun+, the official Page 3 website became accessible only to Sun+ subscribers.
Before 2003, British tabloids sometimes featured 16- and 17-year-old girls as topless models. Samantha Fox, Maria Whittaker, Debee Ashby, and others began their topless modelling careers in The Sun when they were 16, while the Daily Sport was even known to count down the days until it would feature a girl topless on her 16th birthday, as it did with Linsey Dawn McKenzie in 1994.
Controversies and campaigns
Critics usually consider Page 3 to demean and objectify women, as softcore pornography that is inappropriate for publication in a national newspaper readily available to children. Some campaigners have sought legislation to have Page 3 banned. Others, wary of calling for government censorship of the press, have sought to convince newspaper editors and owners to voluntarily remove the feature or modify it so that it no longer featured a topless female model.
A YouGov survey carried out in October 2012 found marked differences in attitude toward Page 3 among readers of different newspapers. 61% of Sun readers wished to retain the feature, while 24% said that the newspaper should stop showing Page 3 women. However, only 4% of Guardian readers said The Sun should keep Page 3, while 86% said it should be abolished. The poll also found notable differences by gender, with 48% of men overall saying that Page 3 should be retained, but just 17% of women taking that position.
Political campaigners for legislative action against Page 3 have included Labour Party MPs Clare Short and Harriet Harman, Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. The Sun has responded to such campaigns with mockery. When Short tried in 1986 to introduce a House of Commons bill banning topless models from British newspapers, The Sun branded her "killjoy Clare." When Short renewed her campaign against Page 3 in 2004, The Sun superimposed her face on a Page 3 model's body and accused her of being "fat and jealous." The Sun also branded Harman a "feminist fanatic" and Featherstone a "battleaxe" because of their stances against Page 3.
Elsewhere tabloids have eliminated topless models voluntarily, as the Daily Mirror did in the 1980s. During her tenure as deputy editor of The Sun, Rebekah Brooks argued that Page 3 lowered the newspaper's circulation because women readers found the feature offensive. When she became the tabloid's first female editor in January 2003, she was widely expected either to terminate the feature or to modify it so that models would no longer appear topless. However, Brooks changed her position and became a staunch advocate of the feature. She later wrote an editorial defending Page 3 from its critics, calling its models "intelligent, vibrant young women who appear in The Sun out of choice and because they enjoy the job."
In August 2012, Lucy-Anne Holmes, a writer and actress from Brighton, began a grassroots social media campaign called No More Page 3 with the goal of convincing The Sun 's editors to voluntarily remove Page 3 from the newspaper. Holmes stated that she began the campaign after noticing that despite the achievements of Britain's women athletes in the 2012 Summer Olympics, the largest photograph of a woman in the nation's biggest-selling newspaper was "a massive image of a beautiful young woman in her knickers." Holmes further argued that Page 3 perpetuates the outdated sexist norms of the 1970s, portrays women as sex objects, negatively affects girls' and women's body image, and contributes to a culture of sexual violence against women and girls. Some commentators, such as Kira Cochrane in The Guardian, have been supportive of Holmes' goals although commentators in publications such as the Telegraph and New Statesman have criticised the campaign, calling it "censorious" and "sinister."
At the Liberal Democrats party conference in September 2012, former MP Evan Harris with the support of others, lent support to Holmes' campaign by proposing a party motion to "[tackle] the projection of women as sex objects to children and adolescents by restricting sexualised images in newspapers and general circulation magazines to the same rules that apply to pre-watershed broadcast media." However, party leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg distanced himself from the motion. In an October 2012 radio interview, Clegg said he did not support a legislative ban on Page 3, believing that government in a liberal society should not dictate the content of newspapers. "If you don't like it, don't buy it … you don't want to have a moral policeman or woman in Whitehall telling people what they can and cannot see," Clegg stated.
The Leveson Inquiry heard arguments for and against Page 3. Representatives of women's groups (including Object and the End Violence Against Women Coalition) argued that Page 3 was part of an endemic culture of tabloid sexism that routinely objectified and sexualised women. The inquiry also heard testimony from Sun editor Dominic Mohan, who argued that Page 3 was an "innocuous British institution" that had become a "part of British society." The Leveson report concluded that arguments over Page 3, and the representation of women in the tabloid press more generally, raised "important and sensitive issues which merit further consideration by any new regulator."
In February 2013, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News International, parent group of the Sun, stated on social networking site Twitter that he was considering replacing Page 3 with a "halfway house," whereby Page 3 would feature clothed glamor photographs, but not bare breasts.
In June 2013, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas defied parliamentary dress code to wear a T-shirt bearing the slogan "No More Page Three" during a House of Commons debate on media sexism. Arguing that The Sun newspaper should be removed from sale in Parliament until it dropped the feature, she said that "if Page Three still hasn't been removed from The Sun by the end of this year, I think we should be asking the government to step in and legislate." Culture minister Ed Vaizey responded by stating that the government did not plan to regulate the content of the press. Later that month, newly appointed Sun editor David Dinsmore confirmed that he would continue printing photographs of topless women on Page 3, calling it "a good way of selling newspapers."
In August 2013, citing "cultural differences" between the UK and Ireland, Paul Clarkson, editor of The Sun 's Irish Republic edition, announced that he would no longer print images of topless models on Page 3. The Irish Sun now features images of glamour models with their breasts covered. The No More Page 3 campaign called the decision "a huge step in the right direction," and thanked Clarkson "for taking the lead in the dismantling of a sexist institution," and called on Dinsmore to follow suit with the newspaper's UK edition.
The hopes of campaigners were further raised when Rupert Murdoch, in his Twitter feed in September 2014 suggested the Page 3 feature was "old fashioned." Eighteen months earlier on twitter "glamorous fashionistas" (i.e., clothed). Murdoch affirmed that the feature would eventually end in an interview for India Today magazine in 1994. While defending it from criticism, he said: "But show it to me in any other newspaper I own. Never in America, never in Australia. Never. Never. Never. It just would not be accepted."
The January 2015 incident
The feature in the British newspaper was reported as having been scrapped in 2015 with the edition of 16 January supposedly the last to carry the feature, after a 20 January article in The Times, another Murdoch paper, said that a decision had been made to end Page 3 in the present incarnation.
On 22 January 2015, after an absence of six days, The Sun returned to publishing shots of topless female models. A notice appeared in the issue: “Further to recent reports in all other media outlets, we would like to clarify that this is Page 3 and this is a picture of Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth. We would like to apologise on behalf of the print and broadcast journalists who have spent the last two days talking and writing about us." In the evening of 21 January, Dylan Sharpe, the head of public relations at The Sun had tweeted: "I said that it was speculation and not to trust reports by people unconnected to the Sun. A lot of people are about to look very silly ... "
The apparent ending of the feature gained much attention in the British press. Clare Short thought that the dropping of topless photographs on Page 3 of The Sun "is an important public victory for dignity." As Caroline Lucas explained in an article for The Independent: "So long as The Sun reserves its right to print the odd topless shot, and reserve its infamous page for girls clad in bikinis, the conversation isn’t over."
After the re-appearance of Page 3 after nearly a week's absence, Lucy-Anne Holmes was reported as having tweeted: "So it seems the fight might be back on."
Similar features internationally
|Austria||Especially in the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung, the counterpart is mostly found on the upper part of page six or seven (sometimes even on page ten), but the feature has no specific name. In the new daily free newspaper Heute ("Today") there also appears a Page-Three-Girl; on Wednesdays, there appears a picture of a half-naked man.|
|Bulgaria||The leader in circulation among daily papers in Bulgaria – Telegraph – has been publishing a picture of a topless girl on page 3 since 2006. The woman expresses her thoughts about the leading article on the page in a bubble. The pictures are being taken exclusively for the paper, mostly of amateur enthusiasts, and on few occasions even of a page designer working for the newspaper.
Also leading sports daily 7 dni sport has been publishing a nude girl on last page since 1996. Pictures for the latter are mostly copied from the Internet.
|Croatia||There is a similar concept on the last page of Croatian daily newspaper 24 sata.|
|Czech Republic||On the last page of Czech daily tabloid newspaper Blesk is a section called Zasmějte se s dívkou Blesku (Laugh with the girl of Blesk) which features a naked or topless girl alongside a joke.|
|Denmark||In 1976 the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet introduced topless models on page nine, referred to as Side 9 Pigen (the Page 9 Girl). The models were previously occasionally fully nude, but in 2006 a change in the newspaper's policy was made. This change required the women to wear panties/knickers and made topless optional, which has caused quite a stir amongst the fans of Page 9. As partial compensation, "Ekstra Bladet" launched a website where the Page 9 Girls could choose to make a gallery for, and on this site (which is a pay-site) sometimes the model is fully nude, but it is rare.|
|Finland||In Finland, the daily Iltalehti features models known as "Iltatyttö" ("Evening Girls"). "Tähtityttö" ("Star Girl") is also published in the weekly 7 päivää.|
|Germany||In some German newspapers, such as Bild-Zeitung, the equivalent is found on the lower part of page one (below the fold), and is thus called Seite-eins-Mädchen (Page One girl).|
|Italy||Two of the main Italian weekly newsmagazines, Panorama and L'Espresso run female nude models on their covers. However this tendency, strong from the Seventies to the Nineties, is now declining.|
|Poland||In Poland, the daily tabloid Fakt features topless models on the last page.|
|Romania||In Romania, the daily Libertatea features topless models at page 5, calling them 'Fata de la pagina 5' (meaning 'The girl from the fifth page'). When Averea was rebranded as tabloid Click!, the owner hired many people from Libertatea; this new concurrent got a very similar look to the original, including the topless girls, who are featured on page 3.|
|Turkey||Turkish tabloid newspapers feature models usually on their last page, known as "arka sayfa güzeli" ("back page beauty"), though rarely topless except for certain newspapers such as Bulvar. Page 3, in turn, is almost invariably associated with sensational crime stories, known as "üçüncü sayfa haberleri" ("third page news").|
|Australia||Australian tabloid newspapers have traditionally published a photo of a scantily dressed, but rarely topless, model on page 3, often in a bikini.
The now discontinued Melbourne weekly tabloid The Truth included a topless page 3 girl from the 1980s until it ceased publication in 1995.
The now discontinued Sydney afternoon tabloid The Sun called its page 3 photo (never topless) The Weather Girl.
|Brazil||Popular Brazilian newspapers such as "Meia Hora" and "Expresso" features daily sections, respectively called "Gata da Hora" and "Glamourosa" featuring topless models.|
|Canada||Beginning with the chain's launch in 1971, Canadian tabloid newspapers in the Sun Media chain such as the Toronto Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Ottawa Sun, Calgary Sun, and Edmonton Sun feature a daily "Sunshine Girl", originally on page 3, although in the 1990s the Sun chain moved the feature to the sports section; while the Sunshine Girl is a daily feature, the Sunshine Boy feature only appears sporadically. The half-page, full-colour photo (some issues however use smaller and/or black-and-white photos, with black and while also being the usual format in the 1970s and 1980s) is of a woman in tight, revealing clothing, lingerie, or a swimsuit. Former Toronto Sun editor Peter Worthington has stated that the Sun will never run a topless Sunshine Girl and as of 2012 this has remained the policy. The Suns have occasionally run issues without Sunshine Girl features, usually resulting in complaints. Its website now features additional images of each model, plus video profiles. Sun Media publishes an annual Sunshine Girl Calendar featuring the more popular models. For years each Sun published primarily local models, with the occasional "import" from other cities; since the early 2000s the same Sunshine Girl feature appears nationwide. Subjects range from amateur models who apply or are chosen via contests, professional models (including glamour and nude models though once again the latter remain clothed), cheerleaders, and occasional celebrities such as athletes and TV personalities.|
|Chile||The popular Chilean newspaper "La Cuarta" features every Friday a section named "La Bomba 4", in which a voluptuous woman appears topless.|
The Indian newspaper Mid-Day features pictures of models (mostly in bikinis), known as Mid-Day Mates. Also in India, lifestyle supplements of leading newspapers like Times of India and Hindustan Times cover socialite parties and fashion show parties and feature them on Page 3, so they are commonly known as Page 3 photos in India. The term has also led to the term, Page 3 Culture, also depicted in Madhur Bhandarkar film, Page 3 (2005).
|Mexico||The Mexican newspaper "Ovaciones" features a topless model on Page 3. Other newspapers as "La Prensa", "El Metro", "El Universal Grafico" also include photographs of female glamour models, sometimes topless.|
|New Zealand||Tabloid newspaper New Zealand Truth regularly features topless or occasionally nude women on page 3 of their weekly publication.|
|Peru||The weekly magazine Caretas publishes a photo of a topless or nude woman on its penultimate page as part of a feature of "amusements" (Amenidades). In the 1970s and early 1980s this practice was imitated by the satirical bi-monthly newspaper Monos y Monadas, which featured an image of a topless model on its own next-to-last page, called "La Calata" (lit. "the naked woman"), and sometimes mockingly augmented this by featuring a calato "for the ladies".
Through the 1980s and 1990s tabloid newspaper Ojo regularly featured a centerfold of a topless or nude woman referred to as the "Ojo Girl" (Chica de Ojo). In the 2000s this practice was discontinued by the newspaper.
|South Africa||The Afrikaans edition of the tabloid Die Son features page 3 women, although not in the English-language edition.|
|United States||The sports section of the daily edition of the Chicago Sun-Times features a page titled "Quick Hits". The page regularly features a photo of a clothed but scandalous woman in sports (often Anna Kournikova), along with gossip style comments referring to the subject and other targets of celebrity sports gossip. The nearest equivalent to the UK's Page 3 woman is a dressed Page 3 girl feature in FOCUS, a weekly entertainment paper based in Hickory, North Carolina. Jet Magazine, a national weekly magazine founded in 1951 that focuses on African American news and culture, has had a full page 'Beauty of the Week' feature since the 1960s. The Beauty of the Week feature includes a photograph of an African American woman in a swimsuit (either one piece or bikini but never nude), and information about the model's name, city, profession, hobbies and interests. Many of the women are not professional models and directly submit their photos to the magazine for consideration. The purpose of the feature is to promote beautiful African American women.|
Page 3 models
Born 1991 onwards
Born 1986 - 1990
Born 1981 - 1985
Born 1971 - 1980
Born 1961 - 1970
Born 1951 - 1960
Born 1941 - 1950
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- Bollywood director eyes 'tabloid' culture BBC News, 30 July 2004.
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