Two years ago 29-year-old Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc quit her job and started travelling the world to document natural women surrounded by their culture. She wanted to photograph women from each country of the world, to show that beauty is everywhere. Noroc took a backpack, her camera and began to travel around the globe, with savings made in years of working.
Her project is called “The Atlas Of Beauty” and is about our planet’s diversity shown through portraits of women. She travels to different countries snapping portraits of women she finds beautiful. It’s an inspiring idea, and seeing the faces of women from far away lands is definitely moving—especially noticing the striking differences in their makeup, hair, clothes, and the settings that they’re shot in.
She explains: “I prefer to photograph natural faces, without a lot of make-up, and to capture that moment of sincerity and serenity that is so specific for women.”
But all the images are also eerily similar. The subjects are in the same young age range, they’re all thin, they all have symmetric, luminous faces, typically adhering to western standards of what’s classified as beautiful. Yes, Noroc’s mission is to highlight beauty across the globe but looking at the images you can’t help but notice how poignant western beauty standards have been instilled in her, as well as her own obvious preference and definition of beauty as the women in images are chosen by her and her only.
The issue with the series isn’t its contents but its packaging. What changes in these photos isn’t beauty standards, but fashion—and despite global trends, what makes something fashionable definitely changes from culture to culture. If the message is that this specific kind of Western-approved beauty can be found regardless of economic and social status, it’s a very successful project. But saying that the photos show different interpretations of beauty just feels, well, off.
So yeah it’s a great project but it has it’s pitfalls – share your thoughts with us, drop us a comment and let us know what you think of this ‘diverse’ beauty pictorial.
The Atlas of Beauty – beauty is diversity
Check out more of her Noroc’s images hereby