Nepal: “Mother and son The Haze on the streets of Kathmandu.” For me, beauty knows no bounds,” says photographer Mihaela Noroc. “You can see it in the eyes, in a smile, in a story, in a gesture. It comes from inside.” When so many of us are locked in a daily struggle to adhere to society’s increasingly narrow concepts of beauty, Noroc’s inspiring work has taken on a deeper significance. Her mammoth Atlas Of Beauty project features powerful photographs of hundreds of women, taken in more than 50 countries.
While our culture and surroundings set us apart, womanhood can be a force that unites us, believes Noroc. “After traveling the world, I realized that despite being so different, we are all part of the same family. All the women in my photos have something in common—a feeling of kindness and serenity.”
Noroc’s stunning snaps taken in India and Nepal truly inspire a feeling of shared ideals and sisterhood across borders. Here, Noroc shares her discoveries during her photographic odyssey.
“I started photography in my adolescence, and my first subjects were my mother and sister. I enjoyed taking pictures of them very much, which is why I continued to take portraits of women. This project was born after a trip to Ethiopia, where I discovered a lot of fascinating women. This made me realize that I could combine my two passions: photographing women and traveling.”
“I try to explore different environments to show as much diversity as possible. When I choose a subject, I try to see a story in her eyes or hear it in her words—I’m looking for naturalness and authenticity. I try to capture feelings of honesty and serenity each time I take out my camera.”
A FACE TELLS A STORY
“In most cases, the women that I photograph don’t consider themselves beautiful. But they are. We wear our stories on our faces, and that is part of who we are. These women usually see another kind of beauty in the media, someone more glamorous, and lose confidence. I want my photos to help them realize how beautiful they are and encourage them to remain natural and sincere.”
“Global trends make us look and behave the same, but we are all beautiful because we are different. In India, like in much of the world, mass media links beauty with having light skin, and, unfortunately, many women are influenced by this trend. Through my work, I try to show that beauty goes beyond skin color, and each woman has her own charm. The media encourages women to be trendy, buy as many clothes as possible, wear makeup, and so on. That’s not beautiful anymore. It’s just a marketing strategy to sell more products. Beauty is diversity. It’s not something defined by a marketing strategy. Perhaps in 50 years, all women from all around the world will dress and act the same. I hope my project will remain a witness to my era’s cultures and traditions.”
“The women in Nepal were extremely open when I was asking to photograph them. Most of them really enjoyed having their picture taken, but in India, I got many refusals. Although both countries are incredibly diverse, I noticed that the Indian culture influences Nepalese women. They watch Indian movies, and they love Indian music. So, in their style, you see similarities with India.”
“Since starting this project, my personal perception of beauty hasn’t changed, but, on the contrary, today, my perception that beauty knows no bounds is stronger than ever.”
“An original is always better than a copy. Instead of copying something that is not you, being authentic and natural makes you more beautiful. Be yourself—be authentic and keep your cultural heritage. This way, both your inner and outer beauty will shine.”
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“I feel proud that I managed to photograph women from very different environments across India—from the slums in Delhi to a Bollywood actor [Sonam Kapoor] in Mumbai. I was particularly fascinated by Rajasthani women’s look and the beautiful way they mixed colors and jewelry. I talked to many fascinating women in both India and Nepal. They shared their struggles and dreams with me, and I felt inspired by their strength. I hope my photos will make these women see how special they are and encourage them to remain natural and authentic.”
“After traveling the world, I realized that despite being so different, we are all part of the same family. All the women in my photos have something in common—a feeling of kindness and serenity.”