Why paper has boobed over selfie contest that exploits women
What makes the perfect selfie? Few issues in the western world are more pressing. Anyone with a teenage daughter knows it takes a least 20 attempts to achieve a result you might dare to show in public (aka Instagram). I've also noticed a gradual shift in priorities regarding one's best look - the under-30s have replaced smiling with pouting, favouring the kind of fish-faced lip-squeeze we used only to do in jest.
Even self-branding media martyrs like Kerry Katona and Katie Price only trout-pouted in a self-effacing 'aren't I a card?!' manner back in the day. Now, in selfie-land, it's the standard pose; the natural smile just doesn't cut it any more. Who would buy such a lack of contrivance? Surely it goes against human nature?
We lose so much sleep over how best to represent ourself online that the nation's surrogate mum, The Sun, has stepped in to give everyone - well, every woman - expert advice. And I for one am grateful, and will be sticking their suggestions on my fridge so as not to lose track of the rules: "A good plunge bra is essential. And a low-cut top." Oh yeah, and stick some make-up on those crevices: "Contouring can add two cup sizes. Use foundation a couple of shades darker than skin tone."
I can't help wondering what the advice for men might be. Place two bowling balls and a skittle down your trousers?
Pointing out inspiring selfies from the likes of Kim Kardashian, reality TV star Vicky Pattison and model Irina Shayk - all renowned masters of having massive boobs and taking photos of them - the newspaper offers £1,000 and a photoshoot to the girl who sends in the 'breast' shot.
And for all you hatchet-faced old moaners frowning disapprovingly at the back, the article notes that even serious-minded women with intellectual-type jobs like Home Secretary Theresa May acknowledge the "impact of a cleavage". Not by saying so out loud, but by wearing a V-neck. Yes, it's fair to assume that every woman who chooses a V-neck is really saying: "Check out my knockers." I'm sure Theresa May would cheerfully throw her hands up and admit as much.
While I appreciate any media organ offering advice to young woman struggling with contemporary challenges, and bow down to The Sun's peerless gift for boob-related puns, I have some reservations about this competition.
I'll assume the paper is aware that woman have valuable quantities beyond their bust, and they're probably sick of journalists like me (file under 'killjoys') repeatedly drawing attention to the fact.
And I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that they know the culture they encourage undermines women, and suggests to men, especially the really stupid ones, that the best kind of woman is one who takes her top off and sends you photos.
They don't give a damn about any of that; it doesn't affect the demographic that buy their product, and they've presumably become masters at blocking out all thoughts of their daughters while coming up with copy for feel-good fun-time contests like this one.
But while the dangers of young women sending nearly-nude selfies to pleading men make frequent headlines in papers, is it really the right time to be advising such women on how they might best parade their cleavage on camera? Isn't there a good chance that even those more modest girls who don't fancy the photoshoot might be encouraged to send well-lit, 'sexy bra' clad photos to goading boyfriends, middle-aged dads posing online as Justin Bieber doppelgangers, or even lascivious Premiership footballers?
But maybe I should lighten up and enjoy 'celebrating' Mother Nature's gift to salacious male Sun readers. What harm could come of it?
Library closures a real horror story
This week we found out the extent of the Government's cuts to British libraries. Almost 350 have closed, with a loss of a quarter of staff. Many more have been forced to shorten opening hours and seen budgets for books, games and DVDs plummet.
One wonders where the Government official figure of 110 closures came from - perhaps it was a dream, or a document found down Margaret Thatcher's old filing cabinet. Many of our greatest writers, filmmakers and scriptwriters claim it was childhood trips to the library which first sparked their imagination.
It's hard to believe a wander past a locked door saying 'To Let' will have the same effect.
Lay off Kay, she owes us nothing
Kay Burley was accused of being out of touch, elitist, and a media 'pond-life' who was 'immune to the pain of poverty' when she mentioned spending £130 on a bottle of wine this week.
While some might question whether a bottle of wine can ever be worth £130 (as the daughter of an enthusiastic connoisseur, I wouldn't be one), this little kerfuffle neatly demonstrates what skewed notions online access to celebrities has given people about what famous folk owe them, and their right to lecture celebs on how to spend their money, and what to do with their time.
You guys understand she's not using your taxes to fund her dinner, right?