My dad used to get The Sun. Page 3 girls were some of the first celebrities I ever realised were celebrities. I was a bit obsessed with them. Linda Lusardi. Suzanne Mizzi. Maria Whittaker. And, of course, eventually, Samantha Fox.
I used to stare at their photos. Not at their breasts – although I probably did a fair amount of staring at them too – but at everything: hair, faces, skin, make-up, teeth. They were so glamorous (they were glamour models, after all).
My mum didn’t buy women’s magazines, so I’m pretty sure the Page 3 Girls were the first images of women I was really familiar with. And, you know, they had no tops on. I can distinctly remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and posing like a glamour model. Turn to the side, boobs thrust out. Hands underneath the boobs to hoik them up (this is also how I came to mentally design my amazing hands-holding-boobs bikini top. I couldn’t believe no one had already thought of it. Jeez.)
When the America astronaut Sally Ride died recently, I saw lots of tweets from American women saying she was their role model when they were growing up. I’d never heard of her, but I’ve since learned she was amazing. I wish I’d heard of her when I was growing up, but I don’t remember ever seeing her in The Sun. Even if she had been featured, I doubt I would have noticed her – it was the pictures that leapt out at me. Particularly when they took up an entire page.
When I started writing this post, I googled Maria Whittaker because I remembered her being the Page 3 Girl I most wanted to look like (the women with the unfeasibly large boobs were always my favourites, because I had unfeasibly large boobs – or, at least, I thought I did – so they gave me hope) and I learned that she made her Page 3 debut in 1985 when she was 16. I stared at that for a long time, blinking. She was 16. She was in a national newspaper, topless, for men to drool over and say “Look at the tits on that.” That’s what she was there for. There’s no possible other interpretation. (Is there?) A sixteen year old. In a newspaper. For the sole purpose of sexual objectification.