A Boob In My Bonnet

In the United Kingdom (where I live), there is a daily national tabloid newspaper called The Sun. In it's own words, The Sun provides readers with "the latest news and features - Showbiz, babes, celebrities, sport and racing, national and international news." The word that I have decided to take issue with is 'babes' specifically because, for those who don't already know, as well as tenuous 'news' The Sun regularly features a picture of a pretty girl with her bazukas out on page 3.

It’s long been an issue that has frustrated me. I am not surprised, shocked or even displeased that men – and women – like to look at boobs. Boobs are fascinating, boobs are life-giving, powerful, sexy and aesthetically pleasing, all at the same time. As a heterosexual woman, I confess that I love to have a good gawp at a nice pair of breasts, wherever I may come across them (I love a topless beach - viva Espania!). Part of the fascination is a sort of ‘ooh, you’ve got them too, they’re just bigger/smaller/ droopier/ perkier etc than mine’ acknowledgement and partly because a beautiful pair of baps is a lovely sight to behold. I am also very much in favour of encouraging people (women and men) to be comfortable with their bodies. I have spent too much of my life ashamed of my physical flaws and not enough celebrating my strength, physical capabilities and the general fact that my body functions very well, and as such is pretty damn marvellous.

However, I don’t believe the place to find a pair of boobs should be two pages into The Sun, aka the most widely-read newspaper in this country (in itself quite terrifying). This is not because I think the naked human form is scandalous, or anything so prudish (although I think printing a topless chick alongside a story about the war on terror/ unemployment/ racism, etc. is slightly crass and somewhat undermines those issues). I just think there are more appropriate forums for breast admiration, especially in less objectifying ways.

Besides the mots obvious aspect of objectification, one aspect of the Page 3 Phenomenon that frustrates me most is the ‘News in Briefs’ bubble that accompanies each glamour shot. I find the implication that a good looking young woman with nice tits cannot be intelligent, or have a valid/informed opinion on politics, science or anything else UTTERLY OUTRAGEOUS. Sure, some of the girls on Page 3 may not be the sharpest tools in the proverbial shed, but I DO think it is appalling that the editors of The Sun deem it acceptable to propagate the ridiculous myth that good looking women cannot also be clever and educated with something valuable to say about the world.

Take my sister for example, she is tall, slim and extremely pretty, with a curvy bum and a great pair of C-cups. She loves clothes, shoes, jewellery, handbags and fashion in general and is ace at making cupcakes and brownies. Yet her title isn’t Miss, Mrs. OR Ms – it’s Dr.  All of these things are true, not because she is extraordinary (although, to everyone who knows her, she is), but because like most women (and humans in general), she does not neatly fit into one category. The point is not that beautiful girls can’t be clever, or plain girls can’t be thick – it is that there is NO correlation between the two.

I have lost count of the number of times people (men and women) have reacted in amazement when I have told them that I speak 3 languages fluently – yes, it is quite rare (especially in our resolutely monoglot society) but I would be willing to bet that at least half find it difficult to reconcile this with the image of a girl who takes pleasure in dying her hair blonde, painting her nails and wearing heels/makeup etc.

So while Page 3 is a drop in the ocean when it comes to reinforcing old-fashioned perceptions about beautiful women (and I do think this is something that largely affects women over men), I don’t think it helps. And it’s really for this reason above all that I think that getting rid of it might not be such a bad idea.

More articles in WMC FBomb by Category: Body image and body standards, Feminism, Media, Misogyny
More articles in WMC FBomb by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Gender bias, Sexism, Discrimination, Identity, Pornography, News



Sophie R
Sign up for our Newsletter

Learn more about topics like these by signing up for Women’s Media Center’s newsletter.