Daisy Buchanan | Contributing Writer | Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Breast Cancer Patient Attacks Page 3 Campaign In An Amazing Open Letter To The Sun

The Debrief: Blogger Sarah Perry is talking about the realities of reacting to Page 3 when you've just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The No More Page 3 campaign has a powerful new ally – Sarah Perry, a blogger who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and is urging other young women to discuss the negative effect that Page 3 has on their health and bodies. 

Sarah has written an open letter to the Sun, addressing the problems with Page 3 and specifically, the ‘Check ’em Tuesday’ feature, which she describes as ‘a gimmick to try and justify the existence of Page 3.’

Sarah’s letter went viral after it was shared online by the website The Stir. Sarah explains: ‘Since being diagnosed with breast cancer myself, I’ve been talking to a lot of younger women with breast cancer, and it really hit home how inappropriate and insensitive it was for the Sun to be using Page 3 to raise awareness of breast cancer.’

Sarah adds that even though she’s suffering from a serious illness and has met many other women in the same position, ‘Body confidence issues regularly dominate conversations – more so than matters of physical health. And I think the sexualisation of women in the media has a lot to answer for in terms of making women uncomfortable and embarrassed in their own bodies.’

Lisa Clarke, who works on the No More Page 3 campaign added: ‘We at NMP3 are completely overwhelmed by Sarah’s spirit and generosity. To write such a beautifully written, important and heartfelt piece when just about to start chemotherapy, is a selfless and extraordinary thing to do. 

‘Sarah’s words have been echoed by so many others we have heard from, who are affected by this disease. Many told us they were unhappy with the way the Sun have run what is clearly an important campaign of awareness, by linking it up with the sexism and sexualisation of the page 3 feature.’

Sarah’s post has gained the campaign an extra 1,000 signatures and counting, and the petition is already 200,000 names strong. There has already been some debate about the appropriate ways to talk about breasts and breast cancer. Earlier in the year, the controversial NipNominate trend saw women posting cleavage shots to Facebook and Twitter in order to raise ‘awareness’ of the illness. 

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Personally, I don’t believe that we need to raise awareness of breasts themselves. But what Sarah’s blog does brilliantly is draw attention to the way our breasts and our bodies make us feel, and how much of an impact Page 3 has on our emotional wellbeing.

Sarah writes that even before she was diagnosed, she ‘became aware of the fact that images like those on Page 3 of the Sun… were making me feel inadequate and ugly on a daily basis. I hated my body. Small boobs, thunder thighs, wobbly arse, pasty pale skin… I wished I was beautiful and had a better body. I [thought] I would be so much happier if I did.’

It’s heartbreaking to read because it’s such a clear demonstration of the way so many of us feel about our bodies. And it becomes even more poignant when you consider that Sarah found it hard to love her body when it was healthy – before she was diagnosed.

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Although Sarah’s words specifically target Page 3, I believe they can be applied to every outlet that presents women’s bodies as something that exist for male gratification, and force us to focus on the way our bodies look and not their strength and potential.

And I hope that those of us who are lucky enough to enjoy good health will think about our bodies from the perspective of the courageous women like Sarah, who have the strength to fight universal as well as personal battles. 

Follow Daisy on Twitter @NotRollerGirl 

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