As a child I remember my Gran used to get one of every major newspaper, that included The Sun. So when I went to visit her every Friday with my Dad, it was normal for each of us to be flicking through a newspaper before passing it on. I remember secretly looking at Page 3, thinking if I got caught looking at it, I’d get told off, as it wasn’t meant for little girls. I was curious and confused and looked not in admiration but as if looking for a reason for it. Why was it there? If I wasn’t meant to see it, WHY was it right there?? Although I was young, it annoyed me, and it knew it was just for boys to look at, not girls. When my male cousin of the same age looked at it unashamedly, that was meant to be fine. And when my Dad looked at it, that was fine too. I remember one time, being frustrated with my Dad staring at this Page 3 insert, so I got behind the newspaper so he couldn’t see me, and punched it. I got told off of course.
When I was a teenager at school, I remember boys in the years above me used to decorate their folders and books with a collage of Page 3 models. Somehow this was allowed!? I remember feeling massively uncomfortable and inadequate whenever I saw them laying around. I didn’t match up, maybe someday I would? Until then, me and my friends would remain the butt of their jokes about how small our tits were.
When I left school, I got my first boyfriend aged 17. In his bedroom, topless models adorned the walls, including Page 3 models. I asked “Why do you have this picture up?” to a badly torn out picture of topless 18 year old Eva. He replied “Because, I thought, wow she’s got big tits for an 18 year old!” At this point, I knew it wasn’t a case of “one day I might look like them, so its ok, one day i’ll be good enough” Now, I was 1 year away from meant to be having big beautiful boobs, and it didn’t look like it was gonna happen.
Every morning before he went to work, there would be a copy of the sun sprawled out on the kitchen table, Page 3 on show, where he, his Dad, his male colleagues who stopped by, would take it in turns whilst they had their brew to have a look. This blatant viewing of gorgeous naked women by my boyfriend gave me massive insecurities and became the point of many arguments. One day I went to his room in a rage and tore down each and every picture, to be told I was a ‘crazy bitch’. Also, one time on holiday, we went to get a magazine for the flight. He got Nuts. (Not The Sun I know) I remember sitting in our room one night whilst he was out, looking it and crying for about an hour.
My second, and current boyfriend, although not The Sun again, used to collect lads mags at the start of our relationship. He has stopped now, knowing my hatred for them. But the damage was already done. I felt awful.
Page 3 had started it all, and now I felt nothing but hatred and anger for everything related. I wanted to be good enough to feature in these magazines, but I didn’t want to actually be in them, just be good enough. I felt depressed, I would randomly burst into tears, for no reason other than I hated myself. I hated the system, of everything around me always being for the men, despite how terrible it always made me feel.
I went to several counselling sessions and talked about this. I hated my body, I hated everyone. The models, the men who looked at it, the shop owners, everyone. I thought I was wrong, I really was a ‘crazy bitch’. All this was normal wasn’t it? It had been like this since I was a kid? I couldn’t see a way out of feeling this way, there was nothing I could do, this is just how it was, and I should just get used to it. But I couldn’t!
It wasn’t until my counsellor told me some words that changed my life. “Maybe you’re not wrong. How you’re feeling, maybe it isn’t wrong.” She encouraged me to look for people who thought the same, and share how I was feeling so I could make sense of it all. I found feminism. I found the No More Page 3 campaign.
And I haven’t had to go back to counselling since. That was just over a year ago. I still feel insecure sometimes and get upset, but not on the level I used to. I can see The Suns Page 3, and instead of wanting to burst into tears, I now want to stand up and tell everyone “NO MORE PAGE 3!” (I don’t mind you, might get some stares. But I do march around in my NMP3 t-shirt starting conversations with friends and family.)
So Thank You, all of you, for letting me know I’m not alone, and that there IS something we do about it.
Dana, 22