beauty queens

Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu says was ‘bullied for gaining weight’
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu says was ‘bullied for gaining weight’

INTERVIEW. Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu reveals that she was bullied online for her weight.

Harnaaz Sandhu's Instagram page

The Indian beauty queen recalls breaking down over comments by online bullies on her weight gain after winning the Miss Universe title last year

MANILA, Philippines – In an interview with PEOPLE Magazine on Thursday, August 4, Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu talked about her harrowing experience being bullied online for gaining weight, after being crowned with the title in December last year.

“Physically I have kind of grown, got more pounds and increased my weight, which I am totally comfortable about right now,” Sandhu said. Despite being fine with the change, she shared how she became uncomfortable about receiving negative comments on her weight gain.

“I was bullied for gaining weight,” she added.

According to the 22-year-old, it was really surprising for her to see how people had such strong opinions about her body, but she also believes that this should not matter. “It’s not about how you look, it’s about who you are from inside and how you treat people and what you believe in,” Sandhu said.

In the interview, the Indian-born beauty queen also talked about her own health journey during the competition. “I was really focused towards my goal and I was [not] thinking about my health. The whole time we were working out, doing so many activities,” Sandhu said, saying that diet and exercise were essential in her attempt to win the crown. 

“Just after winning, I had almost a month just to relax. During that time, I actually didn’t work out, and I was just eating and just enjoying that time with my family,” the beauty queen disclosed. This new lifestyle choice resulted in some body changes, which according to her, she did not realize until pointed out.

Unfortunately, the online community had some unkind words about her body, some of which brought Sandhu to tears.

“I definitely broke down so many times,” Sandhu admitted. “Sometimes in the most unexpected times. I’m just about to go on stage or something and this whole thing comes in my mind. It’s really sad,” she recalled.

Fortunately, the beauty queen has moved forward from that phase of her life, and accepts that it’s okay to be sad. “Now, I started loving everything. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel sad,” Sandhu said, hoping that sharing her story will help others who struggle with body image and self-love.

“We all are imperfect. We need to realize that there’s a point where we understand that we need to embrace our flaws and when you do that, you can conquer anything in this world,” she added.

Harnaaz Sandhu of India was named Miss Universe 2021 at the pageant’s finals night held in Eliat, Israel on December 12, succeeding Andrea Meza of Mexico. She bested among 79 candidates to be the third Indian beauty queen to win the title. Harnaaz’ win marks 21 years since India last coveted the crown, following Lara Dutta in 2000.  – with reports from Elle Guison/ 

Elle Guison is a Rappler intern.

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