Harnaaz Sandhu, a Chandigarh-born actress and model became the Miss Universe 2021 and brought the crown home after Lara Dutta’s win in 2000. With her sheer confidence and simplicity, she won everyone’s heart and proved that with a great title comes great responsibility to bring a positive change in society. Before winning the title of Miss Universe, Harnaaz Sandhu had been previously crowned as Miss Diva Universe 2021.
In the final round of this beauty pageant, she wore an elegant gown with a high slit and plunging neckline made with beaded embellishments. This stunning gown was designed by Saisha Shinde, a fashion designer who dressed and glammed up various actresses including Kareena Kapoor Khan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Deepika Padukone and many more. She too has a story that is an inspiration for a lot of people out there.
Saisha Shinder was formerly known as Swapnil Shinde. She is one of the first few designers who came out as a transwoman earlier this year. With confidence and an accepting nature, she took it on social media to tell her followers about a hard yet fruitful journey of self-discovery and acceptance. Until a few years ago, she believed that liking someone of the same gender made her gay. However, such realisation still made her feel that she was not being true to herself and, now, she accepts her identity as a transwoman.
For a variety of reasons, a lot of us feel a deep sense of shame and guilt when we realise our sexual identity that doesn’t resonate with our ‘natural’ being. Society’s acceptance means a lot to us and, overthinking about the consequences of such acceptance makes us shy away from reality and live under the gender norms prescribed to us by society. As capable you become to be in a society, you become untrue to yourself, suffocating under the two identities and the burden that this brings.
During the process of dressmaking for Harnaaz Sandhu, Shinde shares her experience and the effort that took to bring this crystal elegance as the final product. She had a vision where the work should be exquisite and quite detailed while being sustainable and environment-friendly. Hence, she used some of the already available material and the sequins along with the stones that made the dress a dream.
Saisha Shinde and various other men and women out there become a living inspiration for so many of us who are still trying to figure out who they are and what they want. This part of life where introspecting in yourself and your interests can be quite painful and hard, yet, it is equally necessary to understand our emotions and inclinations to be a better person for ourselves.
Shinde recently talked about her initial signature that encompassed only the two Ss in her name and how her signature made her feel like being trapped in a cage, where opening up your arms and embracing your true self wasn’t allowed. With a recent change in her signature, she feels quite happy free to be true to herself once again.
We congratulate Saisha Shinde for her effortless work that went into the making of the dress and for Harnaaz Sandhu for being the face of Miss Universe 2021.