In light of International Women’s Day, we bring you photographer Mihaela Noroc, a young Romanian photographer, who travelled to 37 countries in the past 15 months to challenge the ideal of beauty in Western culture.

The Atlas of Beauty Myanmar Lola Who Fashion Photography Blog
Mihaela Noroc in Myanmar

Mihaela believes beauty is all over the world; different cultures and ethnicities celebrate beauty in their own ways. This is what her project, the Atlas of Beauty, is all about.

“Beauty means diversity and I travel the world to discover it. From Western Europe to African Tribes, and from Rio de Janeiro to China, I try to capture, in my photos, natural and diverse faces.”

The Atlas of Beauty Iran Lola Who Photography blog
The Atlas of Beauty Romania Lola Who fashion blog

She was inspired to begin this journey when she visited Ethiopia three years ago. The beautiful women keeping their cultural traditions alive left Mihaela with a whole new view on beauty.

“I realized that beauty is not about cosmetics, money or trends but more about being yourself, natural and authentic.”

The Atlas of Beauty Cuba Lola Who Photography Blog
The Atlas of Beauty Tibet Lola Who Photography Blog

The Atlas of Beauty is a collection of photographs featuring culturally diverse women, being stunning in their own way. These are real women; women that are beautiful without being airbrushed, or starved. Some might blame her for mainly photographing women corresponding to Western ideals of beauty (thin women with flawless skin and long hair…). We still think these portraits are remarkable and put forward regional codes beauty and traditions.

The Atlas of Beauty Maori-New Zealand Lola Who Photography Blog
New Zealand
The Atlas of Beauty New York Lola Who Photography Blog
New York

She’s returned home to Romania, but her journey is not over. She needs more funding to continue working on her project. She’s counting on crowd-sourcing to help fund her next trips. Donors will also have a chance to vote for her next destination. She’s hoping to capture beauty in the Balkans, Middle East, Central Asia, East Africa, Nepal, India, Western Europe, and possibly a second trip to the United States.

The Atlas of Beauty San Francisco Lola Who Photography Blog
San Francisco
The Atlas of Beauty Iran 2 Lola Who Photography Blog

Mihaela would like this Atlas to be known internationally as an inspiration for women to be themselves. Her photographs capture the essence of beauty in all forms.

Check out her pictures on her Tumblr  and Instagram, and donate if you can!

By Hillary Loucks