Uploading…Cover Photo

If you think that only texts and news articles create debates, think again! Because photos do the same thing!

Consider one case in the Philippines. FHM or For Him Magazine published its March, 2012 issue where its cover girl Bella Padilla, a model-actress, posed sexily with her fuchsia two-piece bathing suits who seemed like walking away from four black girl models in her back. The cover title? Bella Padilla: Stepping Out of the Shadows.

The cover photo of Bella earned criticisms in the social media. Many people were shouting for its immediate removal after when FHM uploaded it as their Facebook cover photo, and calling to change the cover which they considered it as a “racist” photo. The four black girls were used as the shadow from where Bella was stepping out.

“The concept of my @FHMPhil cover was stepping out of MY inhibitions MY fears and MY shadows. Not belittling any race. :)”, said Bella in her tweets after the criticisms went to her knowledge.

The action? FHM decided to change the cover photo of the March 2012 issue and removing the sensitivity issue.

Only one, meaningful cover photo, without minding its sensitivity it could create, lead to people’s action and interpretation, differently.

Another cover photo of a different magazine painted a “thousand words”. The Rolling Stone’s recent issue raised many criticisms, as well. On their cover photo was a guy named, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or Jahar for his infamous name, suspect in the Boston Bombing. There was no Jahar or Tsarnaev in the cover issue. Instead, the name given to him was, “The Bomber”.

FHM and Rolling Stone Controversial Cover Photos

But why did the cover photo create so many criticisms? There were actually different opinions about this. Some said that Jahar was made an instant celebrity the way he posts with his encouraging eyes. He should be portrayed as the one who are a real killer, frightened or can be as helpless as those he victimized. Others said that it did not respect the victim’s kin because Jahar was seen as happy as he could be in the photo.


The issue regarding Jahar in the front cover of Rolling Stone really talks about ethics. Let us set aside the photo taste of the magazine. Let’s talk about the word choice of the one who wrote for Rolling Stone. He called Jahar the Bomber. Although it was true, it seems like Rolling Stone considered him as the absolute bomber without looking for the reasons of Jahar’s doing. “Fell into Radical Islam” is also a debatable phrase. Rolling Stone or the one who wrote those words immediately judge Jahar and his Islam heritage as radical. Looking back at the article, Jahar has been naturalized as a US citizen which means that he exchanged his identity to another identity that he didn’t know will made his name so popular again, negatively.

“…and Became a Monster” is no doubt a wrong choice of words. Monster in particular is not human. Jahar is human. What Jahar did in Boston was so weighed down from other people who did something really big like genocidal act or initiating a war.

taken from a Facebook comment

(taken from a Facebook comment)

Rolling Stone’s ‘unethical’ choice of photos and words should be the last one. I don’t know what’s the goal of Rolling Stone. They just maybe wanting to show to the world that they really want to throw information or show sympathies which was not been effective.

Did they even tell Jahar that they will be using his photo for this? Jahar should have been paid because it’s publicity. Rolling Stone used his photo to be bought and sold. They commodified Jahar.

In the end, FHM changed their March 2012 cover because of many people’s anger. Let us see if in Rolling Stone’s computer monitor, there will be “uploading…new cover photo”.


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