REMEMBER all the noisy outrage about Page Three girls all those years ago?
Despite all the young women taking part willingly and making a good living in the process, they were painted as brainless bimbos being manipulated by nasty newspapers.
Which, having met several of them over the years, I knew to be utter tosh.
For the record, I wasn’t a fan of Page Three either and said so many times, both behind the scenes and in public.
Not because I regarded it as exploitative, but simply because it felt rather hackneyed.
Indeed, it wasn’t political pressure from Clare Short and the Left that eventually forced its demise in 2015, it was because times changed and it had been superseded by the likes of Nuts and Loaded magazines.
But at the height of the criticism, it always struck me as odd that the anti-Page Three brigade weren’t clutching their pearls about revealing photos elsewhere.
Like Kate Moss, for example, who first posed topless when she was just 14 years old. But because it was for the likes of glossy magazines and coffee table books rather than tabloid newspapers it was considered “art, innit?”
Now Kate, 48, has revealed that, as a young model, she felt “really self-conscious” about her body but found herself in situations where she was forced to bare her breasts.
On one occasion, when she was 15, she fled an assignment for an underwear catalogue after being asked to remove her bra by a male photographer. During another shoot for The Face magazine, she says she cried after a female photographer told her: “If you don’t take your top off, I won’t book you for Elle.”
She adds that she also felt “objectified, vulnerable and scared” during a shoot with Mark Wahlberg for Calvin Klein.
Curiously, she doesn’t mention what I believe to be the first ever topless shot of her, taken when she was just 14 by photographer Bettina Rheims, an acolyte of Helmut Newton.
Bettina recalls of Kate: “She walked into the agency with her backpack that day because she wanted to be a model . . . so I called her mum and asked her ‘Can I photograph your daughter? I might need to take off her T-shirt’.
“So then I asked Kate if she wanted to be in my project and she said ‘Yeah, why not? I’m going to school now, can I come back at five?’”
The result is a topless photograph that, despite Kate’s palpably young face and body, the anti-Page Three brigade appeared unbothered by. But again, it’s “art, innit?”
Compare and contrast this with the fuss surrounding Samantha Fox’s Page Three debut at the age of 16 which, also for the record, I agree was too young. It should always have been the minimum age of 18 that it later became.
But even so, Sam’s recollection of her topless debut is starkly different to Kate’s.
“I was 16, if people say that’s wrong, well there’s a lot of other things we can do at 16 that are legal now,” she said recently.
“I was very lucky because I got a top- class agent, my dad was my manager, my mum was my stylist . . . it was a family business.”
No mention of feeling self-conscious, objectified, vulnerable or scared.
Both women have done very well in life and ultimately emerged unscathed from their very different experiences but anti-tabloid pressure groups only painted one of them as an exploited airhead who didn’t know her own mind.
Now we know the truth of what was happening to Kate and other models behind the scenes of so-called “high end” fashion shoots.
We also know that, before he committed suicide earlier this year, French modelling agent Jean-Luc Brunel stood accused of procuring models for convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and last year several models came forward to accuse Gerald Marie, the former boss of Elite models, of sexual misconduct.
This abuse was hiding in plain sight while all the political outrage was channelled towards the comparatively tame Page Three.
BEN HAS IT ALL BUT ALWAYS LOOKS SO JO-LOW
BEN AFFLECK is newly wed to one of the most glamorous, hardworking, dynamic women in the world and is currently enjoying a honeymoon in Paris, the world’s most romantic city.
So why, more often than not, does he look so damn miserable?
HOW TO BEAT A SADDO
NATIVE-American leaders in Canada presented Pope Francis with a traditional headdress, which rather suits him.
Yet usually, if anyone remotely famous dons one for a fancy dress party, social media goes in to meltdown and accuses them of cultural appropriation.
If the Native Americans themselves are OK with it, why the hell should we care about the opinion of some saddo spitting bile from his mother’s spare bedroom?
TACKLE COSTS CRISIS
MUCH is being made of Rishi Sunak’s expensive wardrobe consisting of a £3,500 suit and £450 Prada shoes.
Prompting Culture Secretary (not for much longer) Nadine Dorries to tweet that Liz Truss’s earrings cost just £4.50 from Claire’s Accessories.
Who cares? We know both of the Tory leadership contenders can afford designer clothes if they wish, and we all wised up to the old “ooh, champagne – what a treat!” act years ago.
It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you can afford.
What matters is understanding that the majority of the country is facing a cost-of-living crisis and having coherent policies to help keep them financially afloat.
PRICE OF JOB CUTS
SUPERMARKETS are reportedly losing £500 million to “swipers” – customers who cheat self-service checkouts into thinking that, say, a bottle of champagne is a bag of potatoes that weighs approximately the same.
Now some of the supermarkets are splurging out on more sophisticated technology that can tell if an item is not the expected size, shape or colour.
Alternatively, they could just re-employ all the savvy checkout staff they let go.
MIKE’S GOT IT RIGHT
WITH his customary bluntness, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has lambasted airports, unions and plane-makers for the travel misery faced by passengers across the country.
Heathrow came in for particular criticism – “an airport that couldn’t run a p***-up in its own brewery”.
He added that it was “bulls**t” for Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye to suggest that no one expected the return of high passenger numbers and pointed out that his airline had kept on its staff.
He’s right. I have spent the past few weeks investigating the airport chaos for Channel 4’s Dispatches, and Ryanair and Jet2 emerge far more favourably than other airlines who operated a “fire and rehire” policy then found, unsurprisingly, that a lot of their staff resented being treated as dispensable and found better jobs.
It’s not rocket science, is it?
- Dispatches: Channel 4, 8pm on Monday.
THE Queen has invited Harry and Meghan to stay at Balmoral but sources say they would be “stunned” if they accept.
Particularly, one assumes, because Meghan ain’t the “huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ ’’ type.
But if Her Majesty is keen to continue building bridges, perhaps extending the invite to include a Netflix crew might clinch the Sussexes’ attendance.
NAME AND SHAME
SHARRON DAVIES says she is facing the threat of financial ruin after “anxious employers” and charities she’s worked with for 30 years chose to drop her for speaking out on the unfairness of transgender athletes competing against biological women.
Name and shame them, Sharron.
Then we can choose not to buy their products or donate to their coffers.
MARGOT ROBBIE will appear via zoom in the final episode of Neighbours this Friday.
“She said ‘yes’ straight away, she’s always spoken so fondly about her time on the soap and how it helped to launch her movie career,” says a source.
Good for Margot. So many actors who hit the big time try to airbrush the path that got them there.
But true stars appreciate and embrace it.