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Model Harnaaz Sandhu is the talk of the town today ‒ after all, winning the coveted Miss Diva Universe 2021 beauty pageant is nothing short of a big deal. Sandhu, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration, is excited to represent her country at the global level at Miss Universe 2021 in Israel. There is no dearth of praise coming her way from all quarters, but life was never easy for this Chandigarh-based girl.
She has been a victim of bullying and body shaming in her early years. Although Sandhu has moved past those challenges, she is glad to have received the opportunity to stand up for the voiceless, and inspire them through her story.
In a freewheeling chat with HealthShots, Sandhu shares her experience of being a beauty pageant winner, the mental trauma of being bullied as a child, her views on body positivity, and much more.
There are only two Indian women — Bollywood celebs Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta — who have won the Miss Universe crown until now, and made the nation proud. This puts a lot of pressure on Sandhu’s shoulders, but the beauty queen is all set to give her best.
On being asked what she feels about representing the country on the global platform, Sandhu is quick to respond. “From expectations to results, there have been many emotions I have experienced; just like a rollercoaster ride. It feels surreal, and honestly, it’s still hard to process that I will be representing my country on an international platform! I’m prepping up in full gear for the Miss Universe pageant, which will be hosted in the beautiful Middle-eastern country of Israel.”
Sandhu has earlier opened up about how she was subjected to child bullying. In fact, there were several challenges, both mentally and emotionally that she had to overcome, to be where she is today.
Talking about it, she says, “I was shattered when I was bullied during my pre-teens for being too skinny. But this made me stronger, as I realised that I can’t give into the opinions of others. The only person I need to impress should be myself. In an attempt to impress the world, we can sometimes lose sight of who we are. But if you believe in yourself, you can conquer anything in this world.”
For a long time, it was difficult for Sandhu to accept herself, but it was her mother who helped her navigate through this situation.
“Building my self-worth along with having a never-give-up attitude made me feel confident and unstoppable,” she added.
“Over the years, I have seen the definition of ‘beauty’ gradually changing around me. The perception of what’s acceptable has hugely transformed amongst the youth, and that’s shifting to the masses too. I believe when each of us starts embracing and uplifting others, just the way they are, without any judgment attached (especially on social media), we can live in harmony,” shares Sandhu.
There are many young girls who look up to Sandhu as their role model. For them, she has only one piece of advice.
“Never give up and always stand up for yourselves. I’m grateful to have got this platform through which I can be the voice for the voiceless. But we need to learn how to speak up for ourselves, know our rights and empower other women to do the same. My mother did that for me and helped me pave my path. I wish the same confidence for every woman out there,” she concludes.