In an attempt to showcase that attraction is indeed subjective, Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc has sought to photograph women from every country to show just what “beauty” can mean. The 30-year-old quit her job several years ago, and has since been travelling the world, using her own savings and money raised through fundraising. The project, titled The Atlas of Beauty, has taken Noroc to Brazil, China, Ethiopia and the USA, to name but a few.
Noroc found her subjects roaming the streets, often only having around 30 seconds to take a shot, yet other times finding a woman on social media and spending hours making a portrait. As of now, Noroc is focusing on only one age-group (late twenties, early thirties) but plans to eventually cover an assortment of ages when her budget is larger.
Speaking to The Telegraph , Noroc explained that knowing five languages was hugely beneficial, but in more remote areas, body language was simply and effectively used. In essence, the subjects were told to act as natural as possible, which was helped by the majority of women being photographed where they lived. “Global trends make us look and behave the same, but we are all beautiful because we are different,” says Noroc. “In the end, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder is always somebody else. I think everybody has to cultivate their own beauty, rather than copying something that doesn’t suits. In the end, the original is better than a copy.”
This comes at a time when beauty principles are constantly being questioned, with body care brand Dove showing ad campaigns that call for more “natural beauty”. This approach is especially pertinent as scrutiny increases over the use of photo editing in an attempt to manipulate the perception of physical beauty. Non-physical forms of beauty are also under the spotlight, with the beautiful and sensual names for girls having recently been subject to popular vote, with “Scarlett” winning the top spot.
With the project as a whole, Noroc hopes to challenge typical perceptions on what is beautiful and how women in countries around the world don’t always need to comply with beauty standards. She states: “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. I think beauty is not about age. It’s more about being natural and sincere.”