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PAGE 3 GIRLS WHO GREW UP; They thought baring all would bring them happiness, but it only gave them misery.

By CLARE GRANT

FOR A short time in a Page Three girl's life, topless modelling seems the most glamorous job in the world. She travels to exotic locations, earns enough to buy herself a nice sports cars, and is pursued by rich - and occasionally famous - men.

But what happens when a glamour girl grows up? And how does she look back at her life? Here, three former Page Three girls bare their souls...

TESSA Hewitt found fame and fortune as a topless model - but now she wonders just what she has contributed to society.

"At 17, I didn't think about what I was doing," she says. "I just thought about going to exotic places, my picture was in the newspaper - and a big cheque.

"But now I wonder what harm we have caused. I have nothing against the naked human body, but you have to look at the long-term effects of Page Three.

"Where does Page Three stop and pornography begin? You can't say so-called 'harmless' topless photos don't contribute to this.

"We have become a shallow culture obsessed with sex. Sex is a commodity that is used to sell everything."

It is an extraordinary about-turn for a woman who was famous not only for her shapely 34B bosom but for a series of salacious affairs.

At 18, Tessa spent a weekend with Sylvester Stallone because "I wanted to know what he was like". Then there was an affair with pop star Adam Ant and numerous other brief flings.

She had it all, a spectacular body, fame and fortune. But it was a career that was to see her plumb the depths of depression and dabble regularly with cocaine.

EVENTUALLY it was religion that gave Tessa, now 37, the fulfilment and happiness she craved.

Her conversion from topless model to born-again Christian has brought her more satisfaction than she ever imagined possible during her modelling heyday in the Eighties.

"I can't imagine any girls being truly happy being a topless model. It is ultimately shallow and unfulfilling and at times made me wonder what the hell I was doing. I drank, took drugs and got depressed."

Tessa made her Page Three debut in 1978 at 17 after winning a modelling competition and for a few years her career was everything she hoped it would be - but that feeling didn't last.

"I could see what was happening to the other models," she says. "There was a constant fear someone else would be prettier, or have a better body. You constantly had to be extrovert and some girls were hooked on drugs to give them confidence.

"From being very pretty, a few years down the line they looked awful.

"I started doing cocaine because everyone else was. It was everywhere at parties. It still is. Some models do it to keep their weight down.

" I stopped when I left modelling. It made me depressed because you constantly feel you are not good enough."

At 19 she married Lawrence Matz, who was six years older than her and in the fashion business selling clothes. Eighteen months later, the marriage was over. A year after that so was her career. At just 24, she knew she was getting too old and quit.

"I moved to Lincolnshire, bought a big house and some horses and led a completely different life. I had a new man and we lived a country life."

Twelve years later Tessa and her partner parted on good terms and she moved back to Sussex where she grew up.

Now single, she leads a life as different as possible from her Page Three days. And she has vowed to remain celibate until she marries.

"Christianity has improved my life. I'm happier than I have ever been. I have given up a few things because I have chosen to.

"These days sex is so free and easy. It's become like having a cup of tea and a cigarette. It doesn't seem special any more and I think that has a lot to do with the whole topless and porn business.

"When I was modelling I had a lot of relationships and affairs and now I want it to really mean something. My last relationship ended a year ago and I haven't slept with anyone since. As a model you attract a lot of men who want to sleep with you because you are a trophy leg-over... I wouldn't become a glamour model now because I don't agree with pornography."

Tessa believes the glamour industry today is putting pressure on teenage girls to conform to the "ideal" of the perfect body.

"Why do models have to be anorexic size 10s?" she asks. "It puts a lot of pressure on women if they are bombarded with photos of beautiful, slim women." Tessa herself remains enviably slim, blonde, beautiful - and still very sexy. She has even had plastic surgery to boost her bust to a 34D. But she sees nothing wrong with beauty in the right context.

MY boobs were beginning to droop and I wasn't happy with them," she says.

"Now I am. I don't see why women shouldn't be confident about themselves as long as you are a good person inside. The God I know wants me to look nice." The irony of a one-time glamour model becoming a born-again Christian is not lost on her. She admits that even her father Jim, a retired army major, couldn't stop laughing when she told him.

And busy now with church, her cosmetic consultation business and small film roles, she has never been happier. If money and public exposure is all that makes you happy, why do so many people who seem to have it all drink and take drugs. I did and stopped.

"But then, I got out."

You have to pretend you are dumb

HELEN Whiskin, 29, was glad to leave her modelling career behind.

"I am very sensible and quite prim and proper, so I used Page Three as a vehicle to get what I wanted," she says. "I knew it wasn't a career for life.

"At 20 I bought my own flat in London, and I have been very careful with money. I watched girls who weren't careful fall into a world of drink and drugs.

"Modelling wasn't fulfilling for me. There is nothing glamorous about going to five castings a day and getting rejected by most of them. You need to be tough and have confidence to survive that, and I did.

"But I've seen the most beautiful women in the world convinced they are fat and ugly because of the business. When I started, I thought I was gorgeous. That didn't last and it has made me very conscious of my weight.

"I did a sports degree and started aerobics and kick-boxing classes. I am starting an interior design course next month and I'm so much happier doing what I do now. It's more creative and mentally stimulating. When you are a glamour model you have to pretend to be stupid. Men want this little-girl image, so you look dumb and pretty."

Helen was 17 when she was approached by an agent at a party. She was working as a welder for her dad's factory and jumped at the chance, even though her parents were against it.

She admits now: "They had a point. I don't think you realise what you are doing when you are 17. But now I look back at my pictures and I can't believe how young I was and what I was doing."

I ATE JUST AN APPLE A DAY

SALLY Nicholson agrees with Tessa Hewitt that Page Three girls are past their sell-by date.

"They set standards normal women can't achieve without starving or plastic surgery," says Sally, 39. "Girls have to be skinny with big boobs, and it is almost impossible to be a size 8 or 10 without having small breasts. These images encourage girls to be anorexic. I was. I weighed 7st, I was 5ft 9ins and I ate one apple a day.

"The girls took pills and drugs to keep their weight down. The fear of putting it on has stayed with me to this day."

Sally was 17 when some topless photographs of her made Page Three. She left her pounds 25-a-week job to earn pounds 60 a day.

"I went abroad, I went to clubs, I met rich men and minor celebrities," she says. "But I soon realised there was a price.

Drink

"Drugs and drink were rife. I drink a couple of bottles of wine a day now.

"I dabbled in drugs. I tried everything that was going. Girls took drugs because of a lack of confidence. There is always someone prettier or thinner than you."

Her four-year marriage to Stuart Lancaster, now 45, broke up. Sally says: "He got jealous because he thought I was living this glamorous lifestyle, and he started sleeping around behind my back.

"There were a lot of demands on me to sleep with someone to help my career. I never did that, but I did sleep with a few photographers.

"Once, I met a man on a plane. A week later, my agency told me to go to Rome for a shoot. When I arrived, the man was there, holding a card saying: 'Sally, I love you'.

"I was stunned. He had tracked me down and paid pounds 800 to get me to Italy. I got on the next plane home."

After glamour and fashion modelling, Sally became a marketing consultant. She now lives in a South London cottage with her partner Tim Stokes, 41.

"I love my life now," she says. "After modelling, it was wonderful doing something where you had to think. Everyone assumes you don't have a brain."
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Grant, Clare
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 30, 1998
Words:1630
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