Harnaaz Sandhu of India has been crowned Miss Universe 2021.
The 70th Miss Universe: Sandhu became the first Indian woman in 21 years to win Miss Universe.
She was handed the crown by Miss Universe 2020, Andrea Meza of Mexico, at the end of the annual event in Eilat, Israel, on Dec. 12.
The 21-year-old Bollywood actress from Chandigarh outshone 79 other candidates and became India’s third Miss Universe titleholder in the event’s 70-year history, according to Rappler.
Sandhu graduated with a degree in information technology. She is earning her master’s degree in public administration.
According to her Miss Universe profile, she is a “strong advocate for women's empowerment, particularly their constitutional rights to education, careers and freedom of choice.”
During the top 3 question and answer round of the event, Sandhu was asked: “What advice would you give to young women watching on how to deal with the pressures they face today?" She responded: "Well, I think the biggest pressure the youth is facing today is to believe in themselves. To know that you are unique is what makes you beautiful. Stop comparing yourselves to others, and let's talk about more important things that are happening worldwide. I think this is what you need to understand — come out, speak for yourself, because you are the leader of your life. You are the voice of your own. I believed in myself, and that's why I'm standing here today."
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Sandhu took to Instagram to celebrate her win. She shared photos of herself in her gown and crown with the caption: “We did it. 🥺 I said in my final answer, that I believed in myself and that’s why I was on that stage. I also want to mention a few people who believed in me too.”
Sandhu’s animal impression: Comedian Steve Harvey, who hosted the competition, received online criticism for asking Miss India to perform an animal impersonation on live TV.
— Romardo 🇯🇲 (@romardolyons) December 13, 2021
"Oh my god, Steve, I was not expecting to do this on the world stage. I have to do this, I have no other option. Brace yourselves, everyone," Sandhu said, before sounding out cat “meows” in front of a live audience.
Many social media users suggested that the act was inappropriate and culturally insensitive. One Twitter user stated, “On another note, I’m tired of Steve Harvey. Miss Universe couldn’t find another host that’s not culturally insensitive? Lol.”
On another note, I’m tired of Steve Harvey. Miss Universe couldn’t find another host that’s not culturally insensitive? Lol
— Ysa (@ysasantiago_) December 13, 2021
Sarakshi Rai, deputy editor of social media for The Hill, tweeted: “OMG Miss India meowing at Steve Harvey is not what I was expecting to see tonight. Pretty sure the Miss Universe organization could have asked a better question … very frustrating but she was nothing if not confident.”
OMG Miss India meowing at Steve Harvey is not what I was expecting to see tonight. Pretty sure the Miss Universe organization could have asked a better question… very frustrating but she was nothing if not confident.
— Sarakshi Rai (@Sarakshi) December 13, 2021
Another user tweeted, “Welp. I tried to watch #MissUniverse but I had to bow out when they made a contestant meow like a cat.”
— ᖇEᗩᒪITYTᑕ ✌🏼💜🤘🏼 (@RealityTC) December 13, 2021
The Miss Universe 2021 is the pageant’s second competition to take place during the COVID pandemic. The first and and second runner-ups to Sandhu were Nadia Ferreira from Paraguay and Lalela Lali Mswane from South Africa.
Featured Images via Good Morning America (left), Miss Universe (right)
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