Photographer Challenges Beauty Standards with Images of Women From 60 Countries

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For Romanian photographer Miheala Noroc, her project, The Atlas of Beauty, is much more than just taking photographs of women from different parts of the world. In an essay published by Bored Panda, the artist says she wanted to show how what is considered beautiful in mass-media is just one narrow perspective. The artist’s intention behind the powerful portraits of women around the world was to show how society promotes beauty ideals that do not represent the diverse ranges of women she’s encountered during her travels.

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“For me, real beauty has no age, colors or trends,” wrote Noroc. “You can find it in Africa or in Europe, in a village or in a skyscraper, in a smile, in a gesture, in an intense gaze, in some wrinkles or in a story. You can find it in every kind-hearted human being.”

Her project, now a book also titled The Atlas of Beauty, took four years to complete with more than 500 portraits that span 60 countries. “In a time of hate and intolerance, I want to send a message about love and acceptance. I hope this book will get into many homes around the world, convincing more people that diversity is a treasure and not a trigger for conflicts and hate. We are very different but at the same time we are all part of the same family.”

With each portrait comes a short description of where the photograph was taken and the subject’s background. While the photographs themselves are stunning and highlight the beauty and diversity of women around the world, the descriptions that relate to religion, family, education, stereotypes and societal pressures of each subject help to tell the story of the challenges women face globally. In addition to having to deal with the messages the media and society places on women and their appearance, many of the subjects are working hard to help support their families or further themselves in an uncertain world. Beyond the aesthetic beauty present in the photos, Noroc also captures the beauty of perseverance and courage.

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