German paper Bild takes topless women off front page

BERLIN, Germany — Best-selling German tabloid Bild has announced it will no longer feature topless women on its front page, ending a 28-year tradition.

The decision was apparently taken by an all-male editorial staff yesterday; the paper's female employees had been given the day off in honor of International Women's Day.

More from GlobalPost: International Women's Day: 10 women you should know

"It might be a small step from women's point of view. But it's a big step for Bild and for all the men in Germany," the paper said in its front-page announcement today – which appeared under a shot of a model cupping her naked breasts, with the caption: "I am the last."

However, it's not the end of the "Bild Girls," as the paper calls its models, who include both professionals and local amateurs.

"Of course Bild wants to stay sexy in the future," the paper said. But from now on, its pictures will be "more modern, better packaged on inside pages."

The compromise is what many of its female readers have been asking for, Bild said, citing its readers' advisory panel. One panel member consulted by the paper last year, Antje Neuhäusel-Wolfram, said then that readers didn't all agree on whether to get rid of the topless pictures altogether, but at least wanted to see them moved to page three, "so it's not the first thing you see when you're taking the subway."

Women's rights groups in the UK, where busty "page three girls" have been a daily feature of The Sun tabloid since 1970, recently argued for an outright ban on such pictures, reported. They told the Leveson inquiry into media standards that such imagery, displayed openly for even children to see, presented women as empty sex objects.

Bild's decision also comes amid increased scrutiny of women's status in the workplace, as part of a Europe-wide debate whether to impose legal-binding quotas on the number of women employed in senior positions. The subject was fiercely debated in the German parliament yesterday, the Spiegel Online reported, with the opposition calling for government action and the conservative-led ruling coalition insisting that businesses' pledge to take voluntary measures was sufficient.

Germany has the largest pay gaps in Europe between men and women's earnings, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as one of the lowest proportions of female board members.

More from GlobalPost: Germany's war on solar power

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.