When I was younger (I’m talking really quite young here – about 7 – 12), I found headlines obviously really quite intriguing, so when I wanted to read about a story form the newspaper – bear in mind that reading about our world is something young people in particular should really be encouraged to do – and it was on ‘page 3′, I found it so awkward to look at. I never, therefore, used to read those stories at the beginning of the paper because of how intimidated, shocked and simply freaked out I was by the naked women in the newspaper; the *newspaper*.

I was born in 1974. I don’t remember how old I was when I first noticed the naked women in the paper, it felt like they had always been around. Sam Fox was the most popular around the time I started puberty but my Dad’s favourite but Linda Lusardi and he had a poster of her on his wall.

I don’t really remember thinking much about it at the time but I remember asking my Mum if it would be ok for me to be a “page 3 girl” and (when they reluctantly answered that maybe it would be if I really wanted to do it) if it would be ok to be a stripper. With my now adult perspective I assume this was me trying to weigh up the fact that I felt this probably wasn’t all ok with the fact that everybody seemed ok with it.

My Mum had huge body hang ups and had really little boobs. I’m sure she really appreciated the woman with massive tits staring at her in bed night and morning. Years later when she and my dad divorced she used some of the settlement to have breast augmentation. She still hates her body and has been on a diet her whole life.

I grew up with the same small boobs inherited from my Mum. I was embarrassed by them and wore wonderbras constantly and later gel bra’s. I married young and breastfed both of my children, loving my big, rounded breastfeeding boobs. After that my previously small but perfectly formed boobs were very sad looking. The “spaniels ears ” that I would hear my husbands friends joke about. Let me be clear, I was in every other respect really, really confident about myself, my abilities, my body (I exercised and used the gym a lot). I grew so ashamed of my boobs that I would keep my bra on during sex with my then husband, as I felt so unattractive with it off. After a couple of years of this I saved and eventually had augmentation surgery. A decision I can’t say I regret as I do love my breasts now and they feel like part of me. I know some people think that is wrong and shocking and I am alarmed now that I thought so little of risking a large operation for the sake of vanity, but I felt so very certain about it and had thought long and hard.

It is only since getting involved in the No more Page 3 campaign that I have put together how much the images I saw growing up ate into my very understanding of who I was. How they infiltrated my confidence, how they made me feel inadequate. They made me feel like my sexuality was something to be presented to and for the pleasure of men rather than something that existed to make me feel good and feel close to somebody. I spent years “being sexy” because I thought that is what I was supposed to be and I could turn it on and off like a tap. Having the surgery I realise was all part of maintaining that I suppose. But it was never really for me it was all a performance. Only now do I really know myself and see it all for what it is, yet I still feel its effects and see them every day in the mirror. I may love my breasts but I realise now that its such a shame that I felt I needed to have them just to feel “normal”.