Once bodyshamed for being too thin, Chandigarh's Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu has brought home the Miss Universe 2021 crown after 21 years. Here's her amazing journey.
Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu, India’s representative at the 70th Miss Universe 2021, held in Eilat, Israel has won the title. In clinching the title, 21-year-old Harnaaz has brought back the Miss Universe title to India after 21 years when Lara Dutta won the title in 2000.
A resident of Chandigarh, Harnaaz’s tryst with the beauty pageants began when she was 17 and participated in a national pageant representing her city.
She went on to participate in Femina Miss India in 2019 and was crowned Femina Miss India Punjab the same year.
In this report, Harnaaz speaks about her growing up years and dealing with being bullied. She describes herself as an introvert and says that she had to deal with being body-shamed on various occasions. “I think I have overcome that by believing in my strength and by believing that every individual is unique and that what makes them different. It was all possible because of my mom’s support. She has always been my hero and made me believe in my strength. My family plays a significant role in my worst stage. If I’m able to sit here and talk about myself with confidence, it’s all because of my family.”
Her experiences have prompted her to normalise mental health issues and the fact that it is okay to not be okay at times. She said, “Hardships and struggles are a part of everyone’s life and what we need to understand is how to have a positive outlook towards every situation that hits us because if God has given us challenges, they have also given us the power to come out of it.”
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On the academic front, Harnaaz attended Shivalik Public School in Chandigarh, Punjab, and then went on to study at the Government College for Girls. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration and is also a very keen practitioner of yoga.
During the pageant when asked what advice she would give young women who are dealing with various pressures of everyday life, she said, “Well, I think the biggest pressure the youth of today are facing is to believe in themselves. To know that you are unique and that’s what makes you beautiful, stop comparing yourselves with others and let’s talk about more important things that [are] happening worldwide, I think this is what you need to understand. Come out speak for yourself because you are the leader of your life. You are the voice of your own. I believed in myself and that’s why I am standing here today.”
Harnaaz has also spoken about drawing inspiration from two strong women, her mother and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. Speaking about the former Miss World crown winner, she said, “Priyanka has influenced my life immensely as her aura reflects courage, determination, and a never-give-up attitude. Since her pageant days, she has been representing India phenomenally and has made India proud on a global level, and that is what I, too, aspire to do. She truly is an inspiration to me and many others.”
As per her Miss Universe delegate bio, Harnaaz also draws inspiration from her mother, who “broke generations of patriarchy to become a successful gynaecologist and led her family.”
Congratulatory messages have been pouring in for Harnaaz. From Anand Mahindra to Lara Dutta.
No better way to start the week than by hearing this… #MissUniverse #MissUniverse2021 #HarnaazSandhu #india
— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) December 13, 2021
Congratulations @HarnaazSandhu03 !!!! Welcome to the club!!! We’ve waited 21 long years for this!!! You make us SO SO proud!!! A billion dreams come true!!! @MissDivaOrg @MissUniverse
— Lara Dutta Bhupathi (@LaraDutta) December 13, 2021
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)