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Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu turns criticism into advocacy

!hola - MJ Marfori - The Philippine Star
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu turns criticism into advocacy
Harnaaz is not yet halfway through her reign, but she has already experienced the harshness of the Internet. Since March, the Miss Universe page has been commenting back at bashers criticizing Harnaaz for ‘not fitting’ their beauty queen standards. ‘It was very disheartening for me to see how people are trying to bash me and how they have this own perspective of beauty standards of calling anyone who is fat or anyone who is too thin,’ she says. ‘I think every individual is beautiful and what really matters is not how you look, it is about how you feel.’
Harnaaz Sandhu’s Instagram

Since her arrival in the Philippines via the LCS Group’s private plane from India to Manila last Sunday, every event in Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu’s itinerary has been fit for royalty.

The Indian beauty, who was crowned at the height of COVID’s Omicron variant spread back in December, is just starting to enjoy the travel privileges with restrictions easing up in different parts of the world and the pageant powerhouse that is the Philippines.

Besides her home base New York, Harnaaz just flew to her country India for her homecoming before embarking on a tour as Miss Universe and hopefully some more countries after her visit here. Her manager, a.k.a. Miss Universe Organization director of talent development Esther Swan, was even heard saying that she hasn’t seen Harnaaz this happy.

“I think there is always a ray of hope after darkness. I’m really happy now that things are getting better and at the same time, (I get to) talk about my advocacy,” she said.

Harnaaz is staying in the country this whole week. While in town, she is working with a dream team and having the best Filipino stylist Rain Dagala and Gery Penaso as makeup artist. She knows she’s in the best hands here.

“Oh my god, I mean the Philippines is having my whole heart,” said Harnaaz. “I’m so happy to see everyone smiling (and) showing me so much love.”

Harnaaz also toured Vigan and had her fair share of Pinoy food favorites such as halo-halo and mangoes.

“Mangoes in India are also sweet, so I will have a showdown with the mangoes here as well,” shared the beauty queen, who also discussed her advocacies for women empowerment, particularly for menstrual equity and for people in developing countries to have access to sanitary pads.

With the help of Plan International, Harnaaz is donating a machine to the Philippine arm of the NGO to teach young women to make their own sanitary napkins.

“Menstrual equity is all about having affordable, accessible and safe feminine products, and educating young individuals about reproductive health. This came about when I was young and I had my own period, and my mom was teaching me all about menstruation. Also being my best friend and gynecologist, she has impacted my life and other women in her life to make sure that many women are comfortable, and that ignited the fire in me that I wanted to do something like this on a global stage,” she said.

Harnaaz is not yet halfway through her reign, but we did talk about the harshness of the Internet for extremely popular personalities like her. Since March, even the Miss Universe page has been commenting back at bashers criticizing and body-shaming Harnaaz for not fitting personal standards of what a Miss Universe is for them.

Harnaaz said that she was affected at first. “I believe it was very disheartening for me to see how people are trying to bash me and how they have this own perspective of beauty standards of calling anyone who is fat or anyone who is too thin,” she shared. “I think every individual is beautiful and what really matters is not how you look, it is about how you feel.”

The doll-like queen went on to say that this experience of hers has also been added to her advocacies for women who go through the same intense scrutiny.

“It was quite challenging but it has gotten me an opportunity to be more vocal about body positivity and to make one realize we’re all beautiful in all sizes and shapes,” she concluded.

LCS

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