CULTURE & ARTS

This Is What Beauty Looks Like Around The Globe

The Atlas of Beauty captures women of all ages and nationalities in their natural environments.

It began, as these things do, when 30-year-old Mihaela Noroc quit her job on a whim. She had a little bit of money saved up and decided it was time to travel, to capture her adventures on camera.

But she didn’t snap pics of herself standing on a dramatic cliff, selfie stick in clutch. She didn’t take super close-up macro shots of in-focus flora with fuzzy skyline backdrops. Instead she took pictures of the people she met -- women, particularly women who struck her as beautiful.

Her aim in cataloguing beautiful subjects -- which she posts on her popular blog, The Atlas of Beauty -- is "to balance all the negativity we see in the media." 

"Every day, when we watch mass media we see an Atlas of Wars, Conflicts and Fear," Noroc writes of her project online. "People are fighting just because they are different, because they have a different religion, culture or race."

Noroc’s conception of universal beauty is an individual confidently representing her environment, posing as naturally as possible. Most of the women she photographs have never had a professional portrait taken, which Noroc counts as a big benefit; there’s less posturing involved, and the focus is not on catering to a broad audience of viewers. Instead, the women in her photos stand proudly, gazing head-on at the camera. 

"After photographing women in more than 45 countries I can say that beauty is everywhere, and it’s not a matter of cosmetics, money, race or social status, but more about being yourself," Noroc writes. "Global trends make us look and behave the same, but we are beautiful because we are different."

Scrolling through The Atlas of Beauty, beauty becomes not a universal standard, but a complicated tapestry.

The below photos and captions are from Mihaela Noroc's The Atlas of Beauty blog.

  • In Omo Valley, Ethiopia you have the chance to explore tribes that live like thousands of years ago.  Nudity is something nor
    Mihaela Noroc
    In Omo Valley, Ethiopia you have the chance to explore tribes that live like thousands of years ago. Nudity is something normal and the veil only protects this young woman from the sun. She is part of Arbore Tribe. The 4G mobile network is already there. Soon they will all have smartphones.
  • Before entering North Korea, I was thinking I would be lucky if I make a portrait there. Came back with a photo series, surpr
    Mihaela Noroc
    Before entering North Korea, I was thinking I would be lucky if I make a portrait there. Came back with a photo series, surprised that women were really open to be photographed. I met her on one of the largest boulevards of Pyongyang, the capital of the country, in September 2015.
  • Facebook invited me to photograph six remarkable women for International Women'€™s Day 2016. In the past three weeks I travel
    Mihaela Noroc
    Facebook invited me to photograph six remarkable women for International Women'€™s Day 2016. In the past three weeks I travelled in six countries, to capture six amazing stories. In this photo is Thorunn, from Iceland. You can visit my Facebook page (The Atlas of Beauty) to see all the photos and stories.
  • Before her performance in a traditional show, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
    Mihaela Noroc
    Before her performance in a traditional show, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
  • Beauty has no age limit. This seller from Cuenca, Ecuador, is the best proof. I took this photo in 2014 during my first journ
    Mihaela Noroc
    Beauty has no age limit. This seller from Cuenca, Ecuador, is the best proof. I took this photo in 2014 during my first journey around the world.
  • Mongolia, a few weeks ago.
    Mihaela Noroc
    Mongolia, a few weeks ago.
  • Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan, in July.
    Mihaela Noroc
    Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan, in July.
  • I met her on the streets of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Her job was to plant flowers on the streets of her city. Even a minimum sal
    Mihaela Noroc
    I met her on the streets of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Her job was to plant flowers on the streets of her city. Even a minimum salary was more than nothing for her poor family. After I posted this photo on my Facebook page, her story became viral. This young lady became a sensation in her country and media outlets from all around the world featured her story. I really hope that this will give her a chance for a better life.
  • Tibetan Plateau, China
    Mihaela Noroc
    Tibetan Plateau, China
  • Next year she will turn 100 years old.  Imagine, a century of history seen through these beautiful eyes.
    Mihaela Noroc
    Next year she will turn 100 years old. Imagine, a century of history seen through these beautiful eyes.
  • A few months ago in Havana, Cuba. These days The Atlas of Beauty is in Tajikistan.
    Mihaela Noroc
    A few months ago in Havana, Cuba. These days The Atlas of Beauty is in Tajikistan.
  • Yangon, Myanmar, during my first journey around the world.
    Mihaela Noroc
    Yangon, Myanmar, during my first journey around the world.
  • Syrian woman in Istanbul, Turkey.
    Mihaela Noroc
    Syrian woman in Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Chile, in my first journey around the world. Now I travel in China, with The Atlas of Beauty.
    Mihaela Noroc
    Chile, in my first journey around the world. Now I travel in China, with The Atlas of Beauty.
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