March 17, 2013

Surviving Discrimination: The Chandra Vadhana Story

By Chandra Vadhana | An UNfair & Beautiful contributor

Right from childhood I developed a BIG inferiority complex because I was dark. 

I had the privilege of being schooled at one of the best convent schools in my locality, despite being born in a middle class family. In fact, I was one of the darkest in my class and hence the most "un-preferred" for any on-stage events. And that made me shy away from getting on the stage, even when I was sure of my capabilities. 

I used to cry and shout at my mother for giving birth to me dark. She was actually fairer and I used to be jealous of her beauty. But she was a woman of substance. She always motivated me and instilled great strength in me. Her belief in me made me realize that i can achieve anything in life and that my abilities are never connected with my skin colour.

She did two good things after my convent education: first she put me in an aided college, where there were girls I could relate to and shared my dark skin. Secondly, she forced me to join NCC and sent me to all the leadership camps, which helped bring out my capabilities as a speaker, communicator and as a motivated leader. 

The first NCC camp was rough, but I kept with it and went on to become the best cadet in Kerala, got selected for the Republic Day parade, went on a youth exchange program and won many medals. My NCC training also helped build my confidence. 

I went on to do my MBA from CUSAT. I also did my M.Sc. in Psychology and I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Psychometrics. 

I love my job as an RJ and voice artist, where I get to use my talent to communicate with the community. In spite of my many accomplishments and awards, I do feel sad that I don't get on-stage work as an anchor due to the colour of my skin.

I went on to marry a man who is fair and handsome, who loves me and my kids more than anything else and skin colour is never an issue in our home.

I can say I’m a successful and accomplished dark skinned woman! I have overcome my inferiority complex of dark skin and in the past many years, I have motivated a lot of youngsters by taking personality development classes.

Finally, I believe that the concept of inferiority complex is a pure business strategy for a billion dollar industry that's thriving because of the fairness creams. I believe this stigma can be wiped away only when more and more dark skinned women are in media’s limelight!

And, yes, lets Throw Out That Tube of fairness products right out the windows!

The Chandra Vadhana Story is the first of the Surviving Discrimination posts. If you have overcome skin colour bias and would like to share your story to inspire change among young men and women, drop us a line at

Chandra Vadhana is a Voice artist, Radio Jockey and a Trainer based at Cochin. She is also a blogger and publishes at or


  1. Brilliant :) Infact dark skin is more beautiful than white skin. In Tamil, it is called "kalai".
    Around me I find less discrimination. I feel proud that my classmates never ever have felt even a slight difference among us. There are boys and girls of all colours and that only makes our hearts more beautiful.

    And it is absolutely narrow mindedness to not bring dark skin on screen. From advts to movies and anchoring, the trend must change. And nobody needs to give 'special opportunities' to dark skin people. They only must learn to recognize our talents.

    Keep going strong! :)

  2. There are boys and girls of all colours and that only makes our hearts more beautiful. - camaraderie beyond colour!! Amazing! There is a lesson for all our schools and school teachers in that statement.

  3. The author is a beautiful woman, so its a bit unsettling to hear that she used to be so affected by societal colour bias that it came to throwing what looks like temper tantrums at her mother. But what irks me is that she introduces her husband as "fair and handsome", because ironically that is the name of a very popular skin bleaching cream. If colour really didnt matter, the author would not have referred to her husband's skin colour at all. Im not sure if she's gotten over the colour bias now.

  4. Thankyou Chamu, Lydia and Jodhika for ur comments.
    I just wrote whatever that came to mind when i saw the dark is beautiful FB page.
    I had a complex that i am dark- coz I was amongst mostly fair people. In kerala, most women are fair. As a teenager, i was teased by others that i am black like coal.. who will marry u..etc etc.. May be those statements led to this complex in me. As jodhika mentioned, i am beautiful.But i never realised it!! coz i attributed it to fairness! secondly, i mentioned that my husband is fair and handsome ,just to nullify the fact that many dark girls believe- they cannot get a handsome husband!

    Anyways.... i dont worry abt my colour now..but there are lotss of girls..young girls who do!! i thought of sharing my story just to motivate them..!!

    thankyou one and all!! and do visit my blog! i have written articles on some of the women issues..

  5. Chandra, I understood you the first time when you wrote fair and handsome. My point is wanting a handsome husband is alright. But when you insert the word fair into the equation it seemed like you were buying into the fair is handsome complex as well. I think this is an important concept we need to weed out. That not just women, but men face colour bias. Albeit on a smaller scale. I'd like to date/marry a handsome guy definitely, but i don't want colour to have anything to do with my definition of handsome. I don't care, and i hope it comes to a point where other women don't too, whether the boy is albino-pale, or pitch black. I really hope we mature as a society and take skin colour out of the equation for beauty for BOTH women and men. =)