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

Winner of Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu gained weight after her December win, and while she didn’t mind, she says she cannot stand the online harassment.

In an exclusive interview with People, Sandhu said she is perfectly comfortable with her weight gain, but other people’s comments are now becoming a problem.

“I was bullied for gaining weight,” she said. “It was kind of uncomfortable and really surprising for me to see how people started having their opinions, which should not really matter.”

miss universe 2021 crowned
Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu won the 2021 Miss Universe competition. (dpa/picture alliance via Getty I)

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“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.” 

She told People she severely restricted her diet and increased exercise in an attempt to increase her chances to win Miss Universe.

“I was really focused towards my goal and I was [not] thinking about my health,” said the Indian-born model, “The whole time we were working out, doing so many activities…”

Sandhu said she started gaining a little weight after the competition because she finally had time to relax.

“During that time, I actually didn’t work out, and I was just eating and just enjoying that time with my family… I never realised that it would start showing on my body.”

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In addition to the barely perceptible weight gain, Sandhu was feeling unwell at the time and was diagnosed with several new allergies due to her reaction to gluten, coconuts, and soy products.

With the weight gain, and potential physical impacts from the model’s once-unknown allergies, cruel comments came quickly.

Many were so rude and mean that Sandhu was brought to tears.

“I definitely broke down so many times.”

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“Sometimes in the most unexpected times,” she said. “I’m just about to go on stage or something and this whole thing comes in my mind. It’s really sad.”

Over the last few months, Sandhu has become better at processing her emotions and ignoring needlessly cruel comments.

“I’ve gone through that phase of my life where I used to feel bad about everything,” she said. “Now, I started loving everything. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to feel sad.”

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