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Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu told People she has been bullied online for gaining weight.
She said people's comments made her "break down" before public appearances.
Sandhu went on to say she wants people to accept that everyone is "imperfect."
Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu said she has been bullied online in recent months in a new interview with People.
The 22-year-old, who was representing India when she was crowned Miss Universe in December 2021 in Eilat, Israel, told People she has gained weight since she was crowned.
"Physically I have kind of grown, got more pounds and increased my weight, which I am totally comfortable about right now," she said, going on to say that she started exercising less after she won the competition so she could enjoy eating and spending time with her loved ones.
"I was really focused towards my goal and I was [not] thinking about my health," Sandhu told People of her mindset about exercise before the Miss Universe pageant. "The whole time we were working out, doing so many activities, and just after winning, I had almost a month just to relax."
Sandhu said she was also diagnosed with multiple food allergies, including gluten, eggs, soy, and coconut, all of which were impacting her health.
Although Sandhu didn't care that she gained weight, she said she was bothered by people who criticized her online because of it.
"I was bullied for gaining weight," she told People. "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 also said she "broke down so many times" because of the criticism, sometimes before she had to make public appearances as Miss Universe.
The pageant star is now in better health, and she told People she is thinking about her body differently.
"We all are imperfect," she told People. "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."
Sandhu previously told Insider's Anneta Konstantinides that she wants people to understand pageants aren't about physical beauty.
"It's about personality," she told Insider. "It's about having courage to bring differences in society, and having the courage to represent yourself and know you're strong enough to go with your opinions in front of the whole universe."
Read the original article on Insider