Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu Says She Was Bullied Online After Gaining Weight
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu says she has gained weight since being crowned in December, but she doesn’t mind. The problem has been online bullying.
“Physically, I kind of grew, put on more pounds and gained weight, which makes me totally comfortable right now,” the 22-year-old told PEOPLE exclusively from his New York apartment.
“I was bullied because I gained weight,” says Sandhu. “It was a little uncomfortable and really surprising to me how people started having their opinions, which shouldn’t really matter. It’s not about how you look, it’s about who you are. from the inside and how you treat people and what you believe in.”
The Indian-born beauty queen says that before the competition, diet and exercise were all about winning.
“I was really focused on my goal and I was [not] thinking about my health,” admits Sandhu. “The whole time we trained, doing so many activities, and right after winning, I had almost a month to relax.”
“During this time, I wasn’t exercising, I was eating and just enjoying this time with my family,” the former Miss Diva Universe said. “I never realized it would start showing up on my body.”
Some of the comments online were so cruel that they made Sandhu cry.
“I’ve definitely snapped so many times,” admits Sandhu. “Sometimes in the most unexpected moments. I’m about to go on stage or something and it all comes to mind. It’s really sad.”
Sandhu gained weight but wasn’t feeling well either, and a doctor diagnosed her with allergies she didn’t know she had.
“I have a gluten allergy,” Sandhu shares. “I can’t have wheat or anything that contains it. Apart from that, I also have a soy allergy [and] allergic to coconut.”
“I’m allergic to eggs and I kind of realized that when I got to New York,” the model and actress said. “Because [eggs are considered] vegetarian and he is known as non-vegetarian in India. It took me a while to realize that the things I was allergic to, I still had. I did not know.”
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Now that the 70th Miss Universe titleholder has figured out her health, her mindset has changed.
“I went through that phase in my life where I felt bad about everything,” Sandhu says. “Now I’ve started loving everything. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad.”
Sandhu hopes sharing her story will help others who struggle with body image and self-love.
“We are all imperfect,” she says. “We have to realize that there is a point where we understand that we have to embrace our flaws and when you do that you can conquer anything in this world.”