Based on the author’s online photography project, this stunning collection features portraits of 500 women from more than 50 countries, accompanied by revelatory captions that capture their personal stories.
Since 2013 photographer Mihaela Noroc has traveled the world with her backpack and camera taking photos of everyday women to showcase the diversity of beauty all around us. The Atlas of Beauty is a collection of her photographs celebrating women from all corners of the world, revealing that beauty is everywhere and that it comes in many different sizes and colors.
Noroc’s colorful and moving portraits feature women in their local communities, ranging from the Amazon rainforest to London city streets, and from markets in India to parks in Harlem, visually juxtaposing the varied physical and social worlds these women inhabit. Packaged as a gift-worthy, hardcover book, The Atlas of Beauty presents a fresh perspective on the global lives of women today.
And now, she is back with more beautiful pictures!
#1 Kathmandu, Nepal
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “Soni is celebrating Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, and among the most spectacular gatherings I witnessed in my travels. A time to forgive and to be forgiven, Holi marks the coming of spring, when good triumphs over evil.”
Beauty standards around the world can vary greatly, though sincerity and pure elegance, always wins compared to the ones depicted in social media.
“In the past two years I traveled around the world, and captured hundreds of portrait photography shots in diverse environments,” she said. “My goal is to show that allure is in our differences, not in trends, Beauty standards, money, or race.”
“Through my photography, I want to capture that feeling of warmth and serenity which is so specific to the most beautiful women in the world and comes to balance all the negativity we see in the media. I think people should be more aware of other cultures and beauty can teach us to be more tolerant.”
#2 Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Mihaela Noroc – Maria is a vegetable vendor in the market of her small town. She became shy as soon as she saw the camera.
#3 Tehran, Iran
Mihaela Noroc –Noroc: “Her name is Mahsa, which means “like a moon” in Persian. When she was an adolescent, her father insisted that she study to become a doctor, but Mahsa was more interested in the arts and she chose to become a graphic designer. She is proud that from the time she turned eighteen, she has been financially independent, and soon plans to open her own firm.”
#4 Reykjavik, Iceland
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “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.”
#5 New York, USA
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “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 the 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 Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “With the high temperatures here, nudity is not unusual. Her tribe is called the Daasanach, and they have lived in isolation for generations.”\
At times, these isolated areas even defy expectations. For instance, in Iran, Noroc found herself to be welcomed warmly as a Westerner. The women there loved to be photographed, with Noroc stating that it was one of the few countries outside the Western world where she was rarely refused a photograph.
As Noroc continues The Atlas of Beauty, hoping to travel to more areas of the world and spend more time with locals, she hopes her book can be a beacon of hope. “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.”
#7 Delphi, Greece
Mihaela Noroc – 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,” Noroc says.
#8 Havana, Cuba
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “An actress? A model? No, she wishes only to finish her studies and become a nurse.”
#9 Paris, France
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “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.-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.- Ania always loved sports. As a kid, she was running on the rocks and in the forests, always feeling free and independent. She broke her prosthetic several times. Back then it was impossible to have a proper one for sport because she doesn’t have a femur. Years later, determined to be an athlete, she convinced doctors to take her into a medical trial, and today she has a unique prosthetic and can finally run like she used to imagine when she was a kid.”
#10 Istanbul, Turkey
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “Pinar is a Turkish Cypriot and has long dreamed of becoming a theater actress. So, she moved from Cyprus to Turkey, worked hard, and fulfilled her dream. – Influenced by the way the media depicts beauty, many people feel pressured to follow a certain standard of beauty. But that’s not the case with Pinar. While she loves playing different roles on stage, in real life, she adores being herself, natural and free.”
#11 Mexico City, Mexico
Mihaela Noroc – Captain Berenice Torres is a helicopter pilot for the Mexican Federal Police. Also a mother, she is part of a special forces unit. When she talks about her work, Noroc says, “the passion in her eyes is impressive.”
#12 Ramallah, Palestinian Territories
Mihaela Noroc – Amal—her name means “hope” in Arabic—is Palestinian, but has 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.”
#13 Nampan, Myanmar
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “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.”
#14 Pyongyang, North Korea
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “Rarely have I seen such a concentration of uniforms; they are everywhere in this society. This woman was a guide at a military museum.”
#15 West Jerusalem, Israel
Mihaela Noroc – When Noroc saw this young woman walking down the street, it was as if she had been transported through time, she thought to herself. “Rikki loves to wear vintage clothes and is very creative,” Noroc says. “She was born in Russia to a Jewish family and decided to move to Jerusalem.”
#16 Cape Town, South Africa
Mihaela Noroc – Awhile 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.
#17 Milan, Italy
Mihaela Noroc – Caterina began dancing when she was three years old. Her mother, Barbara, was supportive, but knew that there were few opportunities to study ballet in their small town so, although her husband and son stayed behind, she moved with Caterina to Milan, where her daughter could fulfill her dream and attend one of the most esteemed schools in the world. Art requires huge sacrifices, but imagine how Barbara feels today seeing Caterina dancing on the celebrated stage of La Scala.
#18 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “This photo was taken just before her performance in a traditional dance.”
#19 Wakeham Corridor, Afghanistan
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “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.”
#20 Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “More and more tribes of Amazonia are starting to adopt modern clothes for everyday life. But they are still keeping their traditional clothes for important events. I photographed this young woman in her wedding outfit.”
#21 Bucharest, Romania
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “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.”
#22 Naples, Italy
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “Serena makes these little horns, ‘Cornicelli,’ which are ancient good-luck charms popular in Naples and parts of southern Italy. Her small workshop was opened by her parents. Now she and her sister continue the tradition, making the horns and selling them downstairs, where they have a store.”
#23 Idomeni Refugee Camp, Greece
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “While visiting this camp, I was deeply impressed by the relationship between volunteers and refugees: people from different cultures proving that there need not be any barrier between them, as long as tolerance and kindness are embraced by both sides. – I met many amazing people who left their comfortable lives to come and help other people who are in a desperate situation. Alice is a volunteer from the United Kingdom, and this Kurdish little girl is from Syria. Moments like this give me hope for the world.”
#24 Berlin, Germany
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “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.”
#25 Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “Many women of the world carry great burdens every day, either literally or figuratively. And they do it with so much tenderness and positivity.”
#26 Medellin, Colombia
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “This young woman looked like she belonged in a fairy tale, but she was actually coming from her university.”
#27 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Mihaela Noroc – Noroc: “She’s wearing a deel, which is a traditional outfit commonly seen in Mongolia.”