I, for one, absolutely love birthdays. Even with mine actually not that close, I’m already getting giddy planning how best to gloriously celebrate my birth.

Therefore it’s devastating when a birthday is no cause at all for celebration. This weekend, 16th-17th November, it will be the 43rd birthday of Page 3. “Happy Birthday!” do I hear you preparing to gladly shout, accompanied with party poppers, banners and balloons? No, for this birthday, unfortunately not.

Page 3 began with suggestive, but not pornographic, photos of glamour models being published on the third page of The Sun on the 17th November 1969 when Rupert Murdoch re-launched the publication. A year down the line, editor Larry Lamb “celebrated” the paper’s birthday by publishing a photo of a model fashioning only her birthday suit. By the mid-1970’s The Sun was one of the most popular newspapers in the UK, and other publications began following suit (or rather, de-suiting).

Last year, during the London 2012 Olympics, Lucy Holmes picked up a copy of The Sun and gave it a read. As she read the paper she found the largest picture of a female was that of a topless model, whilst Jessica Ennis, having just won a gold Olympic medal for Britain, was given a much smaller feature. In response, she wrote a kindly worded letter to David Mohare, former editor of The Sun, expressing that bare boobs in the guise of news “perpetuates a belief that women are there for men’s sexual pleasure” and asked him to “please please drop the bare boobs from his paper”.

Holmes’ rational and polite words have struck a chord. The No More Page 3 campaign, now run by a team of 10, has 121,571 signatures backing its petition for David Dinsmore, current editor of The Sun, to rid his publication of topless women on Page 3. The campaign has gained the supported of 143 MPs, nearly 40 different organisations, as well as over 21 UK universities voting in favour of removing the tabloid from their SU affiliated shops until Page 3 is removed.

Personally, I very much hope that UoN will soon be joining the list of universities that have stuck out their necks and made a stand. There are many arguments for and against pornographic publications and their ethical viability; but as far as Page 3 goes, a family newspaper is an inappropriate place for soft porn, no matter what your stance is on the porn industry itself.

The Sun, at this moment, is intent on keeping Page 3, insisting that it’s a “celebration of breasts”. However it seems odd to me that as a society, we can shame those breast feeding in public, using their organs for a function, whilst simultaneously claiming the regular promotion of only flawless boobs are a celebration, not an objectification. If Page 3 claims to be celebrating the ultimate female accomplishment, it is no wonder that so many people grow up with the belief that women are only as good as their looks.

So now I’m appealing to David Dinsmore; please take bare boobs out of The Sun, so we can get on with celebrating a birthday the UK can be proud of, the repeal of Page 3.

Jo Estrin (@jo_estrin)

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Photo: Will Taylor (Flickr)

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