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A racist fish controversy caused Cosmo to pull its cover with a 'Bachelor' contestant

Now this is a controversy tied to The Bachelor we didn’t see coming. On last night’s episode, contestant Victoria Fuller won a competitive photoshoot staged by Cosmopolitan, and as a reward, her bikini-clad bod would grace the “digital cover” of the magazine’s March issue. But some previous modeling work quickly derailed Fuller’s dreams of being a Cosmo covergirl. The merchandise she helped sell had racist undertones, so Cosmo pulled the plug.

But here’s the kicker: the problematic t-shirts and bandannas Fuller modeled were about… fish.

You see, there’s an organization called Marlin Lives Matter, evidently, whose mission is to educate the public on the perils of overfishing white and blue marlin. Seems noble enough, yes? Not so fast: the fish folks are marketing to racists with their gear. One design features a Confederate flag with the stars swapped out for fish. Another reads “white lives matter” over the image of a flopping marlin.

It may have been a niche and knuckleheaded campaign, but at the whiff of, yes, overt racism, Cosmo was like, “No, we’re good.”

The magazine’s editor-in-chief Jessica Pels, who oversaw the Bachelor photo shoot, published a letter explaining her decision to pull Fuller’s pictures from the March issue. “In my view, the nature of the organization is neither here nor there,” Pels wrote on the Cosmopolitan website. “Both the phrases and the belief systems they represent are rooted in racism and therefore problematic.” Some of the photos from the Bachelor group date were still published in the print issue, but Pels said that “ultimately what felt right was choosing not to publish the digital cover on our website.”