Indian model and actor Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu — who was crowned the 70th Miss Universe in 2021 — recently revealed about her difficult experience with body-shaming. In an interview to an Indian publication, the Miss Universe titleholder said she's been called "fat" on many occasions, both by netizens and online media platforms reporting her fashion activities.
In an interview published by the Times of India on April 2, Sandhu said she has been body-shamed online for gaining weight. "I have, of late, experienced it first hand," she said. "The way people react to a person gaining weight. This is not just about women, but it's about every human being and how they’re treated for the way they look. I’ve been through that, and in fact, I am still going through that experience."
Sandhu tries her best not to let the negativity faze her. "It can be difficult to change the other person’s perspective, but if you are confident, you believe in yourself then no one can stop you," she said. "It’s important to remember how we treat people on a daily basis on how they look. We don’t need to feel sorry for them, and no one needs to feel sorry for me, because I am strong enough to take those opinions and ignore them."
The model believes that people who are "sensitive" to comments about their bodies can end up "feeling bullied". Everyone needs to respect each other for who they are. "Your name and your soul are attached to each other and you should be happy and eternally grateful to God for giving you an incredible body. So just love yourself," she stressed.
Apart from her difficult experience with being body-shamed, Sandhu recently shared about suffering from celiac disease, a chronic digestive and immune disorder that damages the small intestine. According to the The Press Trust of India, Sandhu, during an event in Chandigarh, said that "nobody knows about my Celiac disease. That I can't eat wheat flour and many other things. I am one of the courageous and confident girls who believes that even if I'm fat, even if I'm thin, it's my body, I love myself."
In 2021, Sandhu was crowned the 70th Miss Universe, topping a field of some 80 contestants in a pageant that was touched by politics and the pandemic. The pageant show, held in Israel, drew attention after a grassroots Palestinian-led boycott urged contestants to skip the event to protest Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
In the end, only Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country with close ties to the Palestinians, did not send a representative, citing the global Covid-19 situation. The South African government, which also strongly supports the Palestinian cause, withdrew support for the country’s representative over her participation.