Over the last year I have been part of a global movement that campaigns for the dignity of every patient. This global movement campaigns for the dignity of, among others, patients with breast cancer.
It is with sadness then that I saw the breast cancer campaigns group ‘CoppaFeel’ have teamed up with The Sun newspapers ‘page 3 girls’ – a relic of a misogynistic newspaper industry that almost by definition is devoid of dignity and respect.
The campaign will see The Sun newspaper every Tuesday dedicate the Page 3 girl slot to encourage women to check their breasts for signs of cancer.
While I of course, just like the ‘No to page 3 girls’ campaign, hope this campaign is a success and it encourages more girls to check their breasts, I feel saddened that The Sun have chosen, out of all the tools available to them, the overtly sexualised images of young girls to highlight this important issue.
In fact I struggle to think of a less appropriate medium in which to highlight this campaign. Page 3 is perhaps the most prominent icon of a culture that reduces women to mere objects and men to little more than objectifiers. This culture leaves some women feeling ashamed of their bodies and shy to ask for examinations.
As much as The Sun would like to think otherwise, the No to Page 3 campaign have collected testimony after testimony from girls who blame Page 3 and the sexist culture it perpetuates for their own understanding of their bodies and sex.
One recent account from a breast cancer patient comments:
“I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had to have a quarter of my breast removed. I feel horrible and ugly and these images in Newspapers and films make me feel worse.”
Another testimony says:
“I compared myself to this picture and having no other pictures of what naked women are supposed to look like to refer to I judged myself in light of it. I grew to hate my body, I grew to hate myself.”
I wonder how David Dinsmore, the editor of The Sun, would answer the following question: Do you think Page 3 helps or hinders the girls that gave these testimonies to stand in front of a mirror and check their breasts?
This campaign will reach millions of people and will hopefully save lives. But in 6 months’ time when the campaign is all done and dusted what will we be left with?
We will still have one of our largest newspapers going to print daily where the largest photo is of a half-naked women. We will still have a culture where women’s breasts are stared at and not respected. And this, collectively, will do nothing to install a feeling of dignity and respect into women which in turn will only hinder the chances of women regularly checking themselves for signs of cancer.
- Join over 136,000 others and sign the petition calling for The Sun remove ‘the bare boobs.
The Independent today ran the headline – “Breast cancer charities criticise The Sun’s new Page Three ‘Check ’em Tuesday’ for trivialising the disease“. Good to see I am not the only one who feels like this!
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