Filipinos cry racism over Bela Padilla FHM cover

The most recent cover of FHM Philippines — a popular men’s magazine that features scantily-clad women as its main selling feature — made global waves after it featured starlet Bela Padilla posed in a brightly-coloured bikini surrounded by black models in black bikinis. The tagline at the bottom screamed “Stepping out of the shadows” in practical literal reference to the imagery depicted.

The spectacle drew cries of racism all over the Net, particularly over social networking sites Twitter and on Facebook where an image of the cover feature was posted.

“DISGUSTING representation of #colorism and #racism in the Philippines!” one user Twitter user wrote, according to London’s The Telegraph.

“Shame on FHM Philippines!” another reader, who identified herself as a Filipino-American shoe designer, tweeted.

Just hours after the cover was revealed, more than 300 people signed a petition on calling for FHM to scrap the shot and apologize.

FHM Philippines has since pulled the cover and will be releasing the edition with a different cover feature.

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Fair skin is held in high esteem in Philippine society where cultural insecurities see darker-coloured skin as a social disadvantage. The way the cosmetics industry in the Philippines capitalises on this national character is evident in their marketing approaches.

They use “fairness” and “brightness” as euphemisms to describe what are essentially skin whitening products. Just check out the latest press release of the Neutrogena line of products to add to one’s “skin-brightening beauty regimen”. These are products that, according to the marketing tag line, “aim to brighten complexion and give fair, even-toned skin”…

Whiteness is virtually synonymous with beauty in the Philippines and this particular and this in-your-face reality has been noted time and again as Filipino women of mixed race have consistently dominated international beauty pageants in recent times…

The odds are seemingly stacked up against Filipinos who are “not of mixed race” winning an international “beauty” competition. As such, even within the domestic meat market, Filipinos are under intense pressure to defy their genetic heritage in order to get ahead.

Until Filipinos find a new and deeper basis for gauging their self-worth, they will continue to latch on to the skin deep.

[Top photo courtesy MicaMyx on HubPages.]

30 Replies to “Filipinos cry racism over Bela Padilla FHM cover”

  1. mababaw ba talaga ang pinoy? is filino culture preference to fair and white skin insulting to other culture? to paraphrase a philippine senator witty comment: Hindi ko nanam sinasabing pangit ka, ang sinasabi ko lang I like my fair and white skin.

    1. hindi mabababaw ang pinoy tanga lang ang magsabi nyan! why you guys pinoy’s always being subservient to what foreigners dictated to you?? mas mataas ang taste natin sa kanila. dont bealways carried out to their whims (foreigner)

  2. ‘ turn your back on black – i did’

    lily white skin with whitening soaps

    its not racism per se but social snobbery and predujice. just look at the media personalities and newscasters. thick as sh#t is ok as long as you are ‘chinese white’

    1. right. mega oa. take your racism bullshit to the slums, where much of our kayumanggi kababayans are the first to purchase these sham whitening skin poisons besides the every other crap advertised on television while all the while watching inconsequential dramas of the fair-skinned who are not exposed to the heat, stink and pollution their on daily survival-mode manonoods are.

  3. Suppose a black woman is featured with white women around her as faded background and with a label “Black is beautiful,” would those who cried out racism on this one also cry out the same? just asking.

    1. In your case, probably not because it is not a double standard but the statement doesn’t pertain to any of the white women.
      “Stepping out of the shadows” to feature a chinay colored pinay amongst dark native looking negritas around her certainly implies unfavorable things.

  4. Sheesh.So many standards about beauty but only one in being attractive.And to think sometimes it is all subjective-relativism?Black or White,Still the same.But Smart and Dumb,Now that is something.

  5. For what it’s worth, any magazine with that cover now just got more expensive. Missed my chance to score a nice collectible.

  6. the reference to coming out of the shadows has nothing to do with skin color. it refers to rising out of anonymity and finding one’s self in the limelight, which captures bela’s experience from being an unknown to finding herself having a crack at stardom. are people being too literal in their interpretation of the cover of the magazine? have people no appreciation for metaphors? the cover is not literal, but metaphorical.

    1. Wala talaga. Narito na yata sa atin ang mga mapagpatol, pikon, ipokrito, moralista at mga-holier-than-thou.

    2. that’s true, but editors do have a burden to consider people’s initial reaction, and such should temper “metaphor” with being “politically correct”

      and it’s sad, the way we see white in our country, it’s like a status symbol…you’re “mayaman, malinis, maganda” if you’re “maputi”…but really, whether you’re mestiza or morena, if you don’t take showers enough here in this heat, you will both stink the same…lol

  7. Hay ang ganda ni Bella pero maganda rin yung nasa kailwa niya.

    Ang galing talagang panakot yang salitang “racist”hehehe racist, racist, racist, racist ka noynoy. (natakot kaya?)

  8. Sure that no one should discriminate people with either dark or light skin tones. I don’t find this magazine racist as much as it is implying something just negative and immature about themselves.

    It is alright to think that this image of the magazine is bad, but oh how I wish that people should just learn to work on their tolerance level in terms of being hurled bad remarks or image. And come to think- this is like a playboy magazine. What does one expect from it? But I find that it would help that the local media be fair to the majority of filipinos who aren’t really light in their skin tones to please STOP IT with the subtle racism by promoting white skin lotions to the gullible dark brown masses, who should have been taught better to love themselves for who they are without hurling insults at others who are different to them both physically, financially and mentally.

    Now, I don’t imply to be arrogant about the notion of being brown just because I’m calling out on these skin white lotions. You see, this stuff, like tan, is a business thing, which is actually stupid and immature. Even in Australian media they are even starting to discourage people who use the tan to STOP this because it’s not good for their body- and for their esteem.

    No, I don’t even hear a lot of pinoys who say that they’re proud of their brown skin when I was in Cebu. In fact, a lot of them make terrible jokes about how ugly their brown skin colour is. I don’t say they were racist, but more insecure or vain or any negative attitude towards others’ physical appearances, which is entirely shallow.

    Ironically, a lot of filipinos in Australia don’t have a problem with themselves. They even like their ‘pango’ noses and they feel entitled to be called ‘exotic’ just because other people of other nationalities (european to be specific) would kill just to get that ‘tan’.

  9. Racist? Eh ang mga Pinoy ang napakagagaling mambansag sa ibang lahi ano pa bang isyu kundi ang pagiging balat-sibuyas at ipokrito ng mga tao dito. Merong Tsekwa, 5/6, Egoy, Hey Joe at Terorista (Arabo) na mga bansag. Saka wala nang bababaw pa sa pagpatol sa mga marketing strategy ng mga kapitalistang gaya ng FHM kahit alam naman natin ang intensyon ng mga gimik nila. Ang pag-overreact sa mga ganitong bagay ay katumbas na rin ng pagtangkilik sa produktong ipoprotesta kuno.

    Off-topic: Di ko akalaing ganun kaseksi pala si Bela ayos na sana.

  10. Bela Padilla’s story was how she turned to her skin from african black to china white by using whitening soaps abundant in the philippines.. i’ve read it. it’s a nice and important story. ky ngano important? ky mas importante pa man ang showbiz nga balita kysa atong kinabuhi

  11. This cover basically shows hypocrisy in Pinoy society: Pinoys make racist epithets but don’t see it as racist yet when others mentions something not favorable despite being true, Pinoys go all out crying “racist!” and make drama about it in Tweeter, Youtube, Facebook, etc.

  12. What I would like to know is why Filipinos try so hard to cover up their beautiful brown skin? It seems the women want to be white so they can attract western men, but we do not come here for white women. We come here for brown women.

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