Page 3 is a feature found in the British tabloid newspaper The Sun, consisting of a large photograph of a topless female glamour model usually published on the newspaper's third page. The Sun has featured topless models (known as Page 3 girls) in its print edition since November 1970 as well as on its official Page 3 website since June 1999. Although "Page 3" and "Page Three" are registered trademarks of NI Group Ltd, parent company of The Sun, the feature has been widely imitated in other British tabloids and by newspapers internationally.
Page 3 is popular with many readers, but it has also attracted sustained controversy. Some critics have argued that Page 3 objectifies and demeans women, while others have argued that the feature is softcore pornography that should not appear in a generally circulated national newspaper. Some campaigners have 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.
When he relaunched the flagging Sun newspaper in tabloid format on 17 November 1969, Rupert Murdoch 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.
On 17 November 1970, editor Larry Lamb celebrated the tabloid's 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 went on to work as The Sun's main Page 3 photographer until he retired in 2003.
The Sun gradually began to feature Page 3 girls in more overtly topless poses, with their nipples clearly visible. Although these photographs caused controversy at the time, and led to the Sun being banned from some public libraries, they are 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.
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.
Before 2003, British tabloids could legally feature 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 could feature a girl topless on her 16th birthday, as it did with Linsey Dawn McKenzie in 1994. In 2003, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 raised the minimum legal age for topless modelling to 18.
In June 1999, the Sun launched its official Page 3 website, Page3.com. The site features the tabloid's daily Page 3 girl in three different poses, including the photograph published in the printed edition. It also hosts an online archive of previous Page 3 photographs, multimedia, and various other features.
Although the Sun ordinarily features only one Page 3 girl in each edition, a pictorial sometimes features two or more women posed together. A special pictorial to celebrate 40 years of Page 3 featured 15 Page 3 girls posed together.
In 2003, Julian Jones made a documentary about Page 3 girls, The Curse of Page 3, which examined the negative aspects of some Page 3 models' lives, including drug addiction and involvement in abusive relationships.
Page 3 Idol modeling contest
Since 2002, the Sun has run an approximately annual contest called "Page 3 Idol" that gives amateur models an opportunity to compete for a prize that includes a Page 3 modelling contract. Women with natural breasts, aged 18 or older, can submit their topless pictures, which are published on the Page 3 website and voted on by the public. The winners of the contest to date have been Nicola Tappenden (2002), Krystle Gohel (2003), Keeley Hazell (2004), Freya Haseldine (2006), Sam Cooke (2007), Jenny Grant (2008), Kelly Hall (2009), Lacey Banghard (2010), Lucy Collett (2011), and Mellisa Clarke (2012). The 2008 Page 3 Idol winner, university student Jenny Grant, committed suicide in the early hours of 13 September 2008 at the age of 19.
Controversies and campaigns against Page 3
Page 3 has been controversial throughout its history. Critics generally consider it to demean and objectify women and/or regard it 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 features toplessness.
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 percent said that the newspaper should stop showing Page 3 girls. 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.
Notable 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 tabloids have often responded to such campaigns with ad hominem attack and 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 she 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.
Tabloid editors have periodically considered eliminating 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 Dominic Mohan, current editor of the Sun, to voluntarily remove Page 3 from the newspaper. Holmes stated that she was moved to begin the campaign during the 2012 Summer Olympics, after noticing that, despite the achievements of Britain's female athletes, 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' body image, and contributes to a culture of sexual violence against women and girls. Some British media, such as the Guardian, have been supportive of Holmes' goals although commentators in the Telegraph and New Statesman have criticised her campaign, calling it "censorious" and "sinister."
At their September 2012 party conference, some Liberal Democrats, led by former MP Evan Harris, 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 April 2013, Girlguiding, the national Girl Guides organisation of the United Kingdom, wrote an open letter to Sun editor Dominic Mohan, asking him to end the practice of printing topless photographs on Page 3. The letter, written after the organisation's members (girls and women aged between 5 and 25) overwhelmingly voted to endorse the No More Page 3 campaign, called the feature "disrespectful and embarrassing."
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. Demanding that the Sun newspaper be removed from sale in Parliament until it dropped the Page 3 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.
Similar features internationally
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.
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 girl 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.
There is a similar concept on the last page of Croatian daily newspaper 24 sata.
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 girls 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.
In Poland, the daily tabloid Fakt features topless models on the last page.
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.
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 Sydney afternoon tabloid The Sun called its page 3 photo (never topless) The Weather Girl.
Popular Brazilian newspapers such as "Meia Hora" and "Expresso" features daily sections, respectively called "Gata da Hora" and "Glamourosa" featuring topless models.
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.
The popular Chilean newspaper "La Cuarta" features every Friday a section named "La Bomba 4", in which a voluptuous girl 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).
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.
Tabloid newspaper New Zealand Truth regularly features topless or occasionally nude women on page 3 of their weekly publication.
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.
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The American supermarket tabloid Weekly World News regularly featured a bikini-clad "Page 5" girl. Yes! Weekly, a local on-line and print publication in Greensboro, North Carolina, features Page 3 talent, sometimes featuring men as well as women. FOCUS, a weekly entertainment paper in Hickory, North Carolina, began featuring a Page 3 girl decades ago. Founder John Tucker did this as an homage to the British tabloid, as well as in appreciation for women of all types, sizes and ages.
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 girls
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