Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu recently made an appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah where she opened up about the importance of menstrual equity, weight gain criticism and also shook a leg with the comedian, teaching him some Bollywood steps.
Looking lovely in an off-shoulder red dress, the 22-year-old shared how her mother inspired her to work toward women’s health. “I never realised the importance of menstrual equity until my mom, a gynaecologist, taught me how important it is to talk about women’s health and take care of yourself. I always looked up to her and she was someone who was breaking that and empowering women in her life. When I grew up, I felt like this is what I want to do,” she said.
For Harnaaz, admittedly, the coveted Miss Universe crown was never about the glamour it is usually associated with. She said, “For me, Miss Universe was never about looking beautiful and wearing, you know, glitz and glam. It’s not about that. For me, it was a platform where you can talk about things that you want to do. Whenever I used to look up Miss Universes online, videos and everything, they always did something impactful and I wanted to do that, too.”
“I also wanted to leave and create a legacy, and empower women around the world and tell them that if I can do it, you can do it, too.”
During her reign, so far, she has visited several countries and talked about the issue of menstrual equity on varied forums. “Till now, I’ve been to the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Africa. I saw there’s one thing in common and it’s that women’s health is always neglected. And, there are different situations in different countries. Sometimes, women are not even allowed to talk about their menstrual health or even let them buy pads,” she recounted her experience.
As such, she told women: “If you don’t ask for a pad, nobody else is going to do it for you.”
Earlier this year, Harnaaz launched a coalition and social impact alliance to create a platform for menstrual equity along with social entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham aka Pad Man, social impact agency DDB For Good, and the NGO Plan India. “Finally, I have this platform where I can embark on my journey and do whatever that interests me on a global stage and inspire so many young people,’ she had told Glamour magazine.
The host also brought up the topic of bullying as, recently, Harnaaz was heavily criticised for her weight gain. She confessed to being disheartened by it but never allowed it to define who she is. “I was really disheartened when I saw people bashing me for my weight gain. But, I didn’t let them describe me. There are young girls – 6-7 years old – and even boys looking up to me. If they see me being timid and not strong enough, I don’t think that will be the right way to be that impactful person or inspire them. I want to tell them that inspiration starts within you.”
Speaking on the importance of being kind, she said how one looks doesn’t matter in the long run. “For me, it’s not about how you look. It’s about what you say and how you say it, and how you treat people. Because, at the end of the day, when you die, people will not remember you for what you wore. They will remember how they treated you. So it’s very important to have a kind heart and to remind people that kindness is the utmost important thing in this whole world,” Harnaaz added.