28/06/2013 05:53 BST | Updated 27/08/2013 06:12 BST

What Glamour Models Have To Say About Lads Mags And Page 3


On Friday, backers of the Lose The Lads' Mags campaign - coordinated by UK Feminista and Object - will target the Tesco AGM, calling on the UK's biggest retailer to stop selling lads' magazines. Arguments from these feminists centre around the objectification of women and claim the trademark tits-and-arse images in lads' mags are "deeply harmful".

There have been several brilliant, feminist responses to the lads' mag campaign, pointing out its flaws. However glamour models themselves have been conspicuously silent, as though the feminists behind the campaign deem them too dim, too 'exploited' or too 'vulnerable' to have an opinion. Turning them, very effectively, into objects.

Actually, glamour models have plenty to say.

"Of course they haven't asked us what we think," says Gracie Finlan, 24, a model who has appeared in Nuts, Zoo and the Daily Sport. "They don't want to hear anything positive about the industry. The campaign has decided that glamour modelling is a bad thing and they won't publicise anything that doesn't back that up."

Upsetting though it may be to some people, women choose this career and are proud of it.

"I've wanted to be glamour model since I was a teenager," says Clarissa, 25, who has a day job in a shop. "It gives me self-esteem to see pictures from my shoots and know I can look like that. The women who do this have confidence to get out there and show their bodies. Feminists should be proud that women can do this."

Sophie Jennings, 20, has appeared in magazines like Zoo and on Page 3 of the Daily Star. "Lots of models are bright but know they can make money out of their looks, so that's what they've chosen to do," she says. "I plan to make good money from it while I can. After that, I'm going to work in events."

There's an implication in the lads' mag campaign that becoming a glamour model isn't a worthy aspiration. Is there a snobbery that distinguishes the spray tanned, heavily made up lads' mag models from the scantily clad or naked models in women's magazines? Or is it the in-your-face cashing-in-on-sexuality that offends?

Of course, there's nothing intrinsically degrading about women's naked bodies. But do glamour models feel that, in these pictures - so clearly taken for the satisfaction of a narrowly-defined, male heterosexuality - they become mere sex objects?

"Yes, in way," says Sophie. "But I don't see that as degrading. I see the attention as positive. How is it a bad thing to be sexy and wanted?"

Within these images is a conscious choice to be seen as a f*ckable body. That's not all these women are - nor what they would want to be seen as outside their work - but it's what they have chosen to capitalise on. We all sell something to make a living.

"It's our choice to make money by being in these magazines," Clarissa says. "Personally, I find it empowering. I don't know why the industry is seen so negatively."

Why indeed? It is sad that such a narrow definition of hotness is depicted by lads' mags but, as I type, a women's mag on my desk bears the cover line, "Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's Body In 5 Days." No question even; this is the body you MUST want, be it to have sex with or inhabit.

Sadly though, the campaign isn't calling for the embracing of wider definitions of sexiness (if they were, the thorny issue of women's mags would be even harder to avoid), they want an end to lads' mags full stop.

This isn't about sexism. It's about sex. Maybe lads' mags should be stuck on the top shelf, away from kids, but the "cover yourself up" moral outrage over their images seems to owe as much to Mary Whitehouse as Mary Wollstonecraft.

There's a self-entitled, moralising tone to the Lose The Lads' Mags campaign that reeks of privilege; assuming its right to decree, absolutely, what is and is not acceptable. This attitude is not mirrored by the models I speak to.

"I understand the argument," says Sophie. "But there has to be respect for each other's opinions. There are some magazines I don't like but I wouldn't dream of forcing my judgement on someone else."

So, Sophie, I ask, are you a feminist? I expect her to say yes. She's bright, articulate, financially independent. Instead she laughs in an appalled sort of way.

"No, I'm not," she says. "Of course not. Feminists want to ban Page 3."

How sad that this disproportionally high-profile campaign is Sophie's only impression of feminism. I wonder how many more women it has alienated.