Stunning photos capture what beauty looks like in 37 different countries around the world

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Friday 11 December 2020 16:56
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Picture:(MIHAELA NOROC/THE ATLAS OF BEAUTY)

Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc has created 500 portraits of beautiful women from around the world.

The portraits, taken in 37 different countries, over four years, are published in her 2017 book The Atlas of Beauty.

The main theme of the project was the diversity of beauty across the globe.

Noroc, aged 31, says that for her, "beauty is diversity".

It is much more than what we often see today in mass media. If you put the words beautiful woman into Google, you’ll mostly see very similar images of seductive women. But on the streets of the world, beauty has many more facets. We just have to open our eyes and see it.

She says she chose to photograph women because they make her 'curious'.

When I started in photography, sixteen years ago, my first subjects, actually, were my mother and my sister.

Over the years I tried different types of photography, I had my time of experimenting, but in the end I realised that as an artist I have to focus on a niche, to explore it as much as possible, to understand it, to develop my skills around it. And this niche for me was photographing women, because this was the thing that made me curious, that, indirectly, made me discover myself, as a woman.

The Atlas of Beauty (£25 Particular Books)

Not all the sitters for Noroc's portraits are named, and each has been reproduced here with an extract from the book's captions.

1. Berlin, Germany

Picture: Atlas of Beauty

Anais has a Malian mother and a French father. When she travels to Mali, people consider her to be white. When she’s in Europe, she’s seen as black. But Anais says she feels both African and European, even if on any given day her clothing expresses a particular part of her heritage.

2. Reykjavik, Iceland

I met Thorunn in her hometown on a freezing day. But her warm personality made me forget the cold. A popular singer in Iceland, she was also a new mom to a baby girl, whom she wants to grow up happy and confident. So Thorunn started an online community called Good Sister, which drew a third of the women in her country to join in support of one another by sharing their stories and giving encouragement.

3. Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan

She was working in the field in one of the most remote places of the world. The people and the natural surroundings are beautiful, but life is so harsh. The violent conflicts that have plagued Afghanistan for the past forty years never reached her village but were never far away, and made it impossible for her to improve her life.

4. Paris, France

Anja is Belgian with Polish origins and dreams to compete in the Paralympic Games…You can’t imagine what a joyful woman Ania is. She has one of the most impressive stories I’ve ever heard. She was born without a right leg, in Poland, and her mother abandoned her in a hospital, begging the doctor to take care of her.

At nineteen months old, she was adopted by a Belgian family, where she had a bright childhood. She told me that her parents were amazing. They adopted more children with disabilities and they all grew up happily in the countryside of Belgium, surrounded by farm animals and enjoying nature.

4. Mexico City, Mexico

Captain Berenice Torres is a helicopter pilot for the Mexican Federal Police. This brave woman, who is also a mother, is part of a special forces unit to fight drug cartels, or to rescue people from natural disasters. When she talks about her work, the passion in her eyes is impressive

5. New York City, USA

Abby and Angela are sisters with an Ethiopian mother and a Nigerian father. Both parents worked for the United Nations so the sisters grew up in six different countries, on three different continents. This gave them a broad perspective and allowed them to see where need was the greatest. After graduation, they both plan to move to Africa and put their knowledge in the service of that amazing continent.

6. Pushkar, India

While travelling from country to country, I was happy to see that women have joined public forces all over the world.

7. Omo Valley, Ethiopia

With the high temperatures here, nudity is not unusual. Her tribe is called the Daasanach and they have lived in isolation for generations.

8. Delphi, Greece

On a normal day, Eleni works in her family’s restaurant. But once a year, she dresses like this for Easter. It’s fascinating to see that, despite the fact that Greece is a modern country, it preserves many of its ancient traditions.

9. Cuenca, Ecuador

A moment of tenderness at the food market.

10. Nampan, Myanmar

For many people around the world, this is what shopping looks like. They don’t have their own cars, or big homes, or bank accounts. But most of them are great examples of dignity, strength, generosity, and honesty. If more of those who have fortunes and power would learn from these wonderful people, we would live in a much better world.

11. Ramallah, Palestinian Territories

Amal—her name means hope in Arabic—is Palestinian, but had lived in Saudi Arabia from age five, when her family moved there. 

‘One year ago, I came back to Palestine for my studies. I really feel at home here. I feel I can become the woman I want to be’

12. Havana, Cuba

An actress? A model? No, she wishes to finish her studies and become a nurse.

13. Capetown, South Africa

A while ago, Jade took out a loan, bought a professional camera, and started to learn photography. She dreams of traveling and taking photos all over the world. I had the same dream—and it came true.

14. Bucharest, Romania

Iulia loves to cruise the streets of the city with her longboard because it gives her a great feeling of freedom. I imagine it feels like vacation, even on the way to work. But her real love is surfing; she dreams of riding the waves of Hawaii someday.

15. Camrbidge, United Kingdom

Connie is passionate about her education. She studies Comparative Literature at the university here, and plans to get a PhD in Philosophy.

Noroc says she hopes the book will show off the 'treasure' of diversity in the world.

I want to honour the wonderful women of our world. To show that their beauty has no bounds, so acceptance, love, and compassion shouldn’t either. 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.

So there you hace it: diversity is beauty.

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