LONDON — Stop the presses! Britain’s topless page 3 models, which for almost half a century have featured in The Sun newspaper every weekday here, have quietly put their tops back on.
Monday’s Page 3 in The Sun showed it-girl British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in lingerie, breasts covered. Tuesday’s page 3 had two actresses from a popular British television show running on a beach in Dubai in bikinis.
So questions were undoubtedly asked about what was up with the 45-year tradition at media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper that has long drawn protests from feminists.
A spokesman for The Sun told an inquisitive Times, also owned by Murdoch, on Tuesday that “Page 3 of The Sun is where it’s always been, between pages 2 and 4, and you can find Lucy from Warwick at Page3.com.”
Last Friday’s edition of the paper will apparently then be the last to run a photo of a glamorous model baring large breasts since 1970, when the feature was introduced shortly after Murdoch bought the newspaper and turned it into Britain’s best-selling daily tabloid.
The feature was one of the most controversial — and long-standing — in British journalism.
The Sun will still run photographs of topless women on its Page3.com Web site, and topless models will still be used as “ambassadors” for events and campaigns backed by the newspaper, the Times reported.
The change, introduced without any official statement from the paper, will nevertheless go down as a milestone in the history of British journalism. It was not completely clear if the change was permanent.
The phrase “page 3 girl” became part of popular British lingo over the decades, and some young famous models were catapulted to fame after appearing topless in the paper. Rival tabloids tried to copy the feature.
Feminist claims that it was sexist never died down, however.
A change had seemed likely after Murdoch described page 3 as “old-fashioned” in September. The media magnate apparently signed off on the change, the Times reported.
The Sun’s Irish edition stopped using topless models in 2013. The Sun on Sunday, which recently replaced the News of the World, does not run topless pictures on page 3, and the Saturday Sun has not published them for many years.