Page Three girls of old are having a final swansong of the ‘British institution’ in The Gazette today – sort of.
As The Sun appears to have dropped the daily image of a topless girl from its pages, women’s rights activists have hailed it a victory.
But former Page Three girls from the Fylde coast have said they will never regret the “stepping stone” for their career that was a bit of “excitement”.
Abby Essien, from Blackpool, said she was sad to hear of the end of an “institution”, which she’d never regret being a part of.
The 35-year-old, who is now a legal counsel in Malta, was studying for A-Levels when she got her first break into modelling.
She said: “I think it’s quite sad – it was an institution.
“Page Three not only allowed me to save to pay my way through my undergraduate degree, my postgraduate legal certificate and my masters degree, it launched my modelling career and led to me travelling the world, featuring on magazine covers and even in a James Bond film.”
The former Greenlands High School pupil made her first appearance on Page Three of The Sun in 1999, and was one of the paper’s favourites until 2002 when she returned to education and studied law at the University of Central Lancashire, funded by her modelling career.
Vanessa Walker, a Poulton-based model who has worked for Playboy, said she felt Page Three had had its day though and the advent of social media and ‘lads mags’ meant it was a less “exclusive” profession.
The 25-year-old, who modelled for Nuts, Zoo and Loaded magazines before moving into marketing and fashion work two years ago, added: “Page Three is not like it used to be. I think it’s had its day.
“There weren’t social networking sites back then like there are now, now you can log onto those and see topless pictures anywhere, there’s no excitement.
“When lots of girls are doing it it takes a bit of sparkle away from it.”
Page Three pin-ups were introduced by The Sun in 1970.
But News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch signalled last year that he was considering dropping the feature, despite having defended the controversial page in the past.
The Times reported yesterday its sister paper will no longer feature topless models after “quietly dropping” the controversial feature after 44 years.
But The Sun has refused to confirm the report, which its head of public relations Dylan Sharpe said “is all just speculation, it is all wild speculation”.
Yesterday’s edition of the paper featured Hollyoaks actresses Jennifer Metcalfe, and Gemma Merna on Page Three running along Dubai beach in their bikinis.
But reports are now rife Page Three – at least in printed format – is set to be consigned to history.
Campaigners have hailed the change to the Page Three format a small victory.
Yas Necati, from the No To Page 3 campaign, said: “We are really glad.
“When you open up The Sun, which is Britain’s biggest-selling family newspaper, you see images of men doing things – running the country, achieving in sport - whereas the most prominent image of a woman is one where she is sexually objectified.
“It gives the message that men make the news for what they do, and women for what they look like.”
Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said The Sun is “moving into the 21st century” while the Girlguiding UK’s Advocates panel said Page 3 is “disrespectful and embarrassing” and that they are “thrilled” it is being dropped.
Helen Kershaw-Russell, equality, diversity and well-being co-ordinator at Blackpool and The Fylde College, said: “I think this is a positive move forward but a lot of work still needs to be done.
“In advertising and marketing terms women are used in a sexual way to promote products.
“The way they are portrayed doesn’t showcase the talent and unique attributes that women have.”
But Ms Essien said she thought the paper would always find space for an attractive girl in its pages.
She added: “I don’t think doing Page Three paints girls in any way.
“We can get away with being topless on a beach so why not with modelling?
“I think everyone will be sad that it’s ended – but without a doubt The Sun will always have a photograph of a beautiful girl in the paper somewhere.”