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Beauty and Culture

    Photographing a World of Everyday Beauty

    March 4, 2015
    Tibet - photo by  Mihaela Noroc.

    Tibet – photo by Mihaela Noroc.

    It’s not really news that there are beautiful people everywhere, is it? And not just because we’re surrounded by Photoshopped images of perfection, either. Beauty and youth are prized around the world, and there are beautiful people in every culture.

    Mihaela Noroc has devoted herself to the task of photographing beautiful women from all around the world. The 30 year old Romanian has quit her job to travel overland to as many countries as time and finances allow her – to capture the individual cultures of the world – through the beauty of her subjects.

    myanmar - photo by  Mihaela Noroc.

    Myanmar – photo by Mihaela Noroc.

    The resulting project, titled The Atlas of Beauty, is an ambitious undertaking. How can you capture the entire world’s beauty? Mihaela has no pretensions of capturing everything: she’s limited herself to photos of women who are close to her own age.

    ethiopia - photo by  Mihaela Noroc.

    Ethiopia – photo by Mihaela Noroc.

    Her images have gotten a lot of attention, and it’s not surprising: who doesn’t love to look at beautiful faces? There is some criticism that the women are all too pretty – that there’s not enough diversity in age or “alternative” beauty. But symmetry is beauty in every culture. And the similarities accentuate the cultural differences in personal styling:

    ecuador - photo by  Mihaela Noroc.

    Ecuador – photo by Mihaela Noroc.

    So while in some ways, Mihaela might seem to be just another model scout going around to find the prettiest faces worldwide, there’s an immediacy and casualness in her photos. These women could be us. Or our roommates:

    singapore - photo by  Mihaela Noroc.

    Singapore – photo by Mihaela Noroc.

    So often, “cultural” documentation is about bringing the viewer into a dramatic (or traumatic) situation. But the popularity of these photographs highlights our desire to see other cultures through their everyday life:

    Myanmar - photo by  Mihaela Noroc.

    Myanmar – photo by Mihaela Noroc.

    Separating beauty from commerce and politics lets us truly look at the faces, and to project ourselves into the lives these individual women lead:

    peru - photo by  Mihaela Noroc.

    Peru – photo by Mihaela Noroc.

    Mihaela’s work is ongoing – there will likely be a Kickstarter soon. You can see more of her work on her Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram. And there’s more coming at her website:


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