Not even a Miss Universe winner is immune from feeling sad after getting criticized online.
By any standard of beauty, Miss Universe 2021 winner Harnaaz Sandhu is gorgeous inside and out. But you wouldn’t know it to look at some of the comments people have been making about her on social media. And for a long time, those nasty words affected her a lot. Not good!
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The 22-year-old spoke to People in a new interview published on Thursday evening. In the chat, the pageant winner got real about what happened after she was crowned Miss Universe back in December of last year — and all the things both physical and mental that have come with that. For one, she explained how she gained weight in the months after intense show prep was completed:
“Physically I have kind of grown, got more pounds and increased my weight, which I am totally comfortable about right now.”
The Indian-born star explained how hard she worked prior to stepping on stage last year, and then what came after:
“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, and 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. I never realized that it would start showing on my body.”
A well-deserved rest after a big win, right?! Prepping for a competition like that is extremely hard work. So it’s only natural that she would have earned herself some time to recover afterwards!! Unfortunately, people online evidently didn’t think so. The former Miss Diva Universe winner explained:
“I was bullied for gaining weight. It was kind of uncomfortable and really surprising for me to see how people started having their opinions, which should not really 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 recalled how some of the online comments were so mean that they actually made her get emotional:
“I definitely broke down so many times. 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.”
People can be so freakin’ cruel. And for what?!?!
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Interestingly, the model-turned-actress did some digging about her health recently. While unrelated to the weight gain — or the public’s awful comments about her — Harnaaz explained a trip to the doctor revealed interesting info about her body:
“I have a gluten allergy. I can’t have wheat or anything which contains wheat. Apart from that, I also have some soy allergy [and] coconut allergies. I’m allergic to eggs and I kind of realized that when I came to New York. Because [eggs are considered] vegetarian and it’s known as non-vegetarian in India. It took me time to realize that the things which I was allergic to, I was still having. I didn’t know.”
And there’s a redemption story here, too! The 70th winner of the Miss Universe title has found herself in a really good place both physically and mentally in the months since going through that challenge. Over the cyber bullying bull s**t, Sandhu explained her new outlook to the mag:
“I’ve gone through that phase of my life where I used to feel bad about everything. Now, I started loving everything. It’s okay to cry. It’s OK to feel sad. 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.”
We all struggle with body image issues from time to time — even world-famous pageant winners. But to hear how she was able to overcome is heartening. F**k those cyber bullies, though, for real!!
[Image via MEGA/WENN/Harnaaz Sandhu/Instagram]