Online Outrage on FHM Philippines March Cover Issue: Artistic or Offensive?

“What were they thinking?” according to a tweet. A controversial racist cover that features a light-skinned actress, Bela Padilla, in a hot-pink bikini, sandwiched between two dark-skinned models supposedly representing her shadows. Below the heading on the cover states:  “Bela Padilla: Stepping Out of the Shadows.”



A teaser of the magazine’s latest cover was uploaded on FHM’s Facebook page, it quickly set alight and was blasted with negative comments and feedback. Some disclosed it as racist and offensive, others as vulgar.


Hmm, I instinctively got offended and thought ‘racism’. Not sure if my gut reaction is right. But ‘stepping out of the shadows’, with 3 dark people in the background…Really?

– Sharmila Parmanand, World-Class Debater, Chief Adjudicator (Berlin 2013)


According to Bela,  “They [FHM] wanted a symbolization of me getting out of my old shadows so they were all supposed to represent me.”


International news agency, BBC News picked up the ongoing debate.

Here’s an interview with the Filipina actress, Bela Padilla and BBC news reporter Mishal Hussain:



Aside from BBC News, the controversy about the supposed cover photo on March 2012 issue of FHM Philippines was also picked up by other international newswires.


On February 27, FHM’s Philippine publisher Summit Media released a statement:

“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.”


Artistic or Offensive? What’s your stand? Leave a comment.


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About The Author

Mitch Layno For the love of the arts and entertainment--I write.

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Comment (2)

  1. It is not racist.

    You all need to calm down sometimes and listen to the artist’s side as well.

    Shadows here are being referred to as an impersonal force.

    Do you automatically assume, dark painted background characters = black people?

    No. In this one that is not what they represent.

    Be a little more open minded. Every culture may have a widely preferred skin tone and it’s not always politically motivated.


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