The first pictures of women on page three appeared in 1969 and coincided with the creation of The Sun, but the models still remained clothed. At that time, The Sun was run by Rupert Murdoch. In the course of time the photos became more and more suggestive. In 1970 on the occasion of the paper’s first birthday, the 20-year-old Stephanie Rahn became the first mannequin to take her top off. This issue obtained so much success that Larry Lamb, the new director, decided to maintain the tradition of topless women. The models gradually struck provocative poses, which caused a lot of controversies. Despite of this, the success of the page three of The Sun continued to increase and some other newspapers decided to imitate it, publishing their own erotic pictures. For several years, Page Three was often linked with
sports events. But in the 90’s, this connection was abandoned and a new rule was instituted, which prevented women with falsies from posing. It is also at the end of the nineties that a website devoted to Page Three was created. All the published pictures can be found on this site, as well as archives. Another novelty is the contest called “Page 3 Idol” which was initiated in 2002. It gives the opportunity to women over 18 to try their luck to have their photo published in The Sun, after a public vote.
Since its creation Page Three has often been seen as controversial mainly by the conservatives and the feminist groups. On one hand critics define it to be sexist and exploitative; on the other hand others regard the pictures as inappropriate for publication in a national newspaper. Page Three was so disparaged that certain editors of The Sun hesitated for a long time to keep the section in the newspaper. It became so important that politics was even involved in the debate. In 1986 Clare Short, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood, led a campaign in the House of Commons to have topless mannequin banned from all newspapers. The proposed bill failed and the campaign was unsuccessful. At one point The Sun provoked controversy by featuring topless girls only aged of 16. All these discussions about the age limit ended when the Sexual Offences Act 2003 determined the minimum age for topless modeling at 18.
Nowadays Page Three still remains central to the debate especially with the celebration of his fortieth anniversary in 2010. Some feminist groups assert that Page three reinforces the negative vision of the woman as a denigrated and sexual object. But a lot has changed since 1970 and women outperform men in various domains. Moreover some feminists argue that images of attractive women give an impression of perfection which can lead to an obsession with appearance among young women. Anyway Page Three remains as much a part of British culture as a cup of tea and this for a long time.