The cover has drawn criticisms from various netizens, calling it as "racist". It shows fairly-skinned Padilla in a pink bikini in the middle of dark-skinned models in black bikinis, defining the tag line "Bela Padilla: Stepping out of the shadows." (click here to see the cover)
FHM Philippines sad it has decided to change the cover after "a slew of comments on the supposed 'racism' of the cover image and cover line flooded the magazine page".
FHM Philippine publisher Summit Media has issued an official statement regarding the cover:
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.
20-year-old Bela Padilla also apologized on Twitter to those who took offense:
"I meant no harm with this cover. I'm so sorry to everyone who got offended. I hope all of you see the beauty of the cover and appreciate it"
"The concept was stepping out of MY inhibitions, MY fears, MY shadows. Not bashing a certain race," she added in a later Tweet.