FHM Philippines has decided to axe the cover of its March issue after complaints flooded in from readers who saw a teaser of the latest issue of the popular men's magazine on its website, according to The Huffington Post.
Bela Padilla, a light-skinned Filipina actress, is seen in the center of the cover in a pink swimsuit, emerging from a group of dark-skinned models, reported The New York Times. Across the bottom of the cover is the caption "Stepping Out of the Shadows."
According to BBC News, FHM Philippines received criticism of the cover on its social networking sites, most of it apparently from dark-skinned Filipinos.
"DISGUSTING representation of colorism and racism in the Philippines!" Twitter-user Michelle Renee See posted, according to The Times.
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In an interview with BBC News reporter Mishal Husain, Padilla responded to the backlash her FHM Philippines cover received.
“Honestly, some of those girls were actually Filipinas painted in black, not to represent Africans, but we were really doing that to portray shadows because, like I said, it’s my coming of age. And we weren’t thinking of harming anyone, and we weren’t thinking of racial discrimination,” she said.
Husain questioned Padilla's response, saying, “Some people might think that it’s even more offensive that some people in that shoot were Filipinas who were painted black.”
And enough readers agreed with the point of view Husain put forward that FHM Philippines posted an official statement about the cover many see as racist:
On Saturday, February 25, we uploaded the March issue with Bela Padilla on the cover on our Facebook page. Just hours later, a slew of comments on the supposed "racism" of the cover image and cover line flooded the magazine page, prompting the editorial team to re-examine the cover so that we could put into context its execution and assuage the concerns of our readers and non-readers as well who've weighed in on the issue.
We took all the points into consideration and have decided to take the side of sensitivity.
When FHM hits the stands in March it will have a different cover. We deem this to be the most prudent move in the light of the confusion over the previous cover execution.
We apologize and thank those who have raised their points. We apologize to Bela Padilla for any distress this may have caused her. In our pursuit to come up with edgier covers, we will strive to be more sensitive next time.