Confident and poised, India’s 21-year-old Harnaaz Sandhu has created history at the Miss Universe 2021 pageant. The Chandigarh girl, who faced her share of bullying and body shaming in her younger days, has brought back the coveted crown to the country after 21 years. The pressures of competing at the global stage were immense, but she handled it with grace.
Overwhelmed about winning the title and the crown, Harnaaz said in statement: “I am immensely grateful to the Almighty, my parents and the Miss India Organisation for guiding and supporting me throughout. Loads of love to everyone who prayed and wished the crown for me. Bringing the crown back after 21 years to India is a moment of greatest pride.”
Harnaaz’s tears of joy reflected the contentment of standing tall against the pressures and expectations of competing at the worldwide pageant.
In one of the question rounds, Harnaaz was asked about the one advice she would give to young women watching the show on how to deal with the pressures they face today.
“Well, I think the biggest pressure the youth today is facing is to believe in themselves… to know that you are unique and that’s what makes you beautiful. Stop comparing yourself with others and let’s talk about more important things that are happening worldwide. This is what you need to understand.
“Come out, speak for yourself because you are the leader of your life. You are your own voice. I believed in myself and that’s why I am standing here today,” said the beauty, who competed against 79 representatives from across the world.
The gala event was held at the Universe Dome in Eilat, Israel, and Harnaaz was naturally emotional when Andrea Meza of Mexico crowned her as her successor.
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In another question, Harnaaz was asked, “Many people think climate change is a hoax. What would you do to convince them otherwise?”
Quick to think on her feet and sensitive in her approach, she said, “Honestly, my heart breaks to see how nature is going through a lot of problems and it’s all because of our irresponsible behaviour. totally feel that this is the time you take actions and talk less because each of our actions can either kill or save nature.”
“Prevent and protect is better than repent and repair, and this is what I am trying to convince you guys today,” answered the newly-crowned beauty queen.
Harnaaz comes from Chandigarh and is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration. She has widely spoken about battling bullying and body shaming in her earlier years. But she tided over those challenges, emerged stronger and is now an inspiration for others.
She has done India proud by breaking the jinx at the Miss Universe contest, where Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta were the last Indian beauties to have won the title.
In an earlier interview to HealthShots, before she went to Israel for the pageant, Harnaaz had opened about being bullied in her pre-teens for being too skinny. On one hand, it left her shattered, while on another it made her stronger too.
“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,” Harnaaz had said.
Well, she did believe in herself – and look, she is conquering as Miss Universe!