Not the Best Year for FHM
First, there was the Filipino issue portraying Bela Padilla surrounded by dark-skinned Filipinas painted even darker.
For the cover of FHM Philippines’ March 2012 issue, someone thought it’d be an awesome idea to surround 20 year-old Filipina actress Bela Padilla with a group of black models. The racial message of the photo’s bad enough. Light-skinned model–or can we just say white here because that’s how it reads?– on a pedestal surrounded by dark-skinned models in subordinate positions. Then consider the fact that this is published for the Philippines, a country where it’s estimated half of the women bleach their skin.When a commenter asked how this cover was racist, a Filipina replied:
Then there’s the caption. OH MY GOD, THE CAPTION.
After a Change.org petition was created to protest this cover, it’s been pulled and sent back into “the shadows,” back to the place where our world’s latent colonialist fantasies continue to reside, sipping their gin cocktails and lamenting “the good ol’ days.”
~ Jen, "FHM Is Tagalog For SMH: Laughably Racist Magazine Cover"
I actually do find this cover to be racist, and to some degree, elitist as well. I’m a Filipina myself so I am well aware of the negative (and even hostile) attitudes that many Filipinos have toward African-Americans and dark-skinned Filipinos. The Aeta people (an indigenous group in the Philippines that are known to be very dark-skinned) are treated terribly in the Philippines. And even those who live in the cities who are very dark are often regarded as ugly and lowly. This is probably why almost all the celebrities in the Philippines are very pale-skinned. White, Spanish beauty is still highly regarded in the Philippines, even though the majority of Filipinos actually have tan skin. (Of course, there are lots of women who also bleach their skin to make themselves look lighter.)Now FHM South Africa has this ish to deal with. From Clutch Magazine:
The picture obviously portrays Bela as being superior. Yes, I know, she’s a celebrity and she is the focus of this issue. However, putting her porcelain white skin against a few painted models is totally unnecessary. (I watched a behind-the-scenes video about this photoshoot and Bela even mentioned that they tried to make her look as white as possible.) Honestly, this picture capitalizes on the elitist attitude that many Filipinos already have against dark-skinned people. And sadly, many Filipinos see absolutely nothing wrong with this photo.
So why is this a racist cover? It’s all about the context of race and class in the Philippines.
After South African model Jessica Leandra dos Santos angrily tweeted about being allegedly harassed by a shop assistant yesterday, many were outraged at her choice of words. The 20-year-old called the man a “kaffir” an extremely offensive racist slur, causing many in the country to demand she be held accountable for her tweet.You'd think that after what happened with Jenny "Cray-Cray" Hyun, folks would remember to watch what they tweet. 'Cause it's a brand new day.
One quick-thinking Twitter user catalogued dos Santos’ tweets and many of the reactions from those in South Africa.
Dos Santos’ deleted the tweet and asked her followers to “forget it,” saying she sent it in anger in response to being harassed.
Unfortunately for dos Santos, folks did not just forget it. Instead they combed her tweets and found yet another instance when the model had something offensive to say about black South Africans (she later deleted that tweet as well).
After many complained, FHM South Africa stripped the model of her title as the winner of its 2011 model competition and they’ve also decided they will no longer work with dos Santos in the future.
FHM South Africa issued a statement cutting ties with dos Santos:
“We have removed all pictures of her from our website and will have nothing to do with her in future. FHM is a proudly South African magazine and say “No” to racism.”
Dos Santos’ main sponsor, diet company QuickTrim, also dropped her as their spokeswoman, citing her tweets.
“Due to the severity of the remarks by #JessicaLeandra #QuickTrimSA herewith ends our sponsorship to her with immediate effect!” the company tweeted.
Dos Santos issued an apology again asserting that she was merely “acting in pure anger and frustration at the time” of her tweets, but that she realizes that there is “no excuse” for using the k-word and will use this experience as a learning experience.
Whether or not dos Santos can resurrect her once-rising career remains to be seen, but one thing is sure: the tweets are ALWAYS watching, and people need to think before they tweet.
~ Britni Danielle, "White South African Model Causes Uproar, Loses Contracts After Sending Racist Tweets"