This Is My Response to People Who Think These Women Are Too Beautiful

    Portrait from Riga, Latvia.  (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Romania. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Maramures, Romania. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Omo Valley, Ethiopia. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Ethiopia. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Iran. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Iran. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Oxford, UK. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Ecuador. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Colca Valley, Peru. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from El Paico, Chile. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Lima, Peru. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Peru. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Bogota, Colombia. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Havana, Cuba. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Kichwa woman in Amazonian rainforest. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Mawlamyine, Burma. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Sumatra, Indonesia. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Tibetan Plateau. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Australia. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait of a Maori from New Zealand. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Baltic Sea. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from San Francisco. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)Portrait from Harlem, New York. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)

    Wow, people got really riled up about this. Are they small-minded to say she is all wrong about beauty, or is it the other way around?

    This is how it is: A 30-year-old female photographer from Romania quits her job to travel the world and takes photos of other females she finds beautiful and unique to show “our planet’s diversity shown through portraits of women.” Her project is called The Atlas of Beauty.

    Photographer Mihaela Noroc in Bogota. (Image courtesy of Mihaela Noroc)

    Photographer Mihaela Noroc in Bogota. (Image courtesy of Mihaela Noroc)

    Mihaela Noroc is not finished yet, but Buzzfeed took what she’s got so far—photos of beauties she found in 37 different countries—and made it into a video slide show.

    Boom, the bitter people of the Internet start complaining that she only took photos of “conventionally beautiful women.” They are disappointed that she didn’t highlight women of different shapes and sizes, and that all the facial features are the same.

    Not only that, she and Buzzfeed are also being hailed as racist because there wasn’t enough dark skin. Oh, and because the Chinese girls weren’t pretty enough and were both Tibetan, so there was possibly an agenda to make China look bad too.

    People even complained that she didn’t photograph women from countries she hasn’t even traveled to yet. It was a major provocation for the fighters and victims of others’ opinions out there.

    The girls’ features are not all the same—other than they all have two eyes and a nose in the middle. That this was even a complaint really made me laugh.

    Noroc explained in an email that so far she’s done this on her own savings, and that she is far from finished.

    “I want to photograph women from each country of the world, making The Atlas of Beauty a mirror of our diverse societies and an inspiration for people that try to remain authentic… Maybe in 50 years all women from all around the world will dress and act the same. I hope my project will remain a witness of my era’s cultures and traditions.”

    Photographer Noroc in Burma. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)

    Photographer Noroc in Burma. (Image: Mihaela Noroc)

    Noroc plans to start an interactive crowdfunding campaign to help her continue. Supporters can actually vote on where she travels next to photograph women.

    Everyone is beautiful. Yes or no?

    One commenter sums it up: “”Why can’t ugly, unsightly people also be on this list?!”=99 percent of comments.”

    Personally, I really enjoyed Noroc’s project of beautiful girls from around the world. They stand out because of their unique cultural stamps and youthful promise. She shows us their individual humanity within the collective human race.

    Noroc says she tried to “capture their pride, sincerity, and serenity.”

    To me what stood out was the power that their individual cultural identity gave them, beyond their natural beauty. I am not of the school of thought that appreciating aesthetic beauty is wrong. I prefer looking at beautiful things as opposed to ugly things, be it art, people, or architecture. Just as I prefer beautiful music as opposed to ugly sounds. It’s natural.

    The kind of beauty Noroc is looking for is aesthetic, but she seeks to portray the cultural uniqueness that sets them apart.

    Beauty as a word can have a different meaning though, with deeper characteristics, encompassing uniqueness, kindness, harmony with nature, inner morality, all which essentially lead to a feeling of satisfaction and perfection for the beholder.

    Portraying all that in a photo is possible. But, even the greatest photographers of our time spend their lives mastering the art of capturing a portrait that is a window to the soul of the subject. Like Steve McCurry, who photographed the little Afghan girl for National Geographic. That is the benchmark perhaps. But, that one shot is from a lifetime’s work—and at the end of the day she is still young, skinny, and beautiful. Why is that wrong? It’s not.



    As one male commenter put it: “Most of these comments are complaining that the women in these photographs fit a certain standard of beauty. But the standards are standards for a reason. This is what most people find attractive. If you disagree, that’s fine. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all.

    But we don’t want to hear: ‘No! Your standards are wrong! You must not only find women with these traits beautiful! You must find beauty in everything! Stop liking what you think you like and start liking what I think you should like!’ It’s like saying someone can’t prefer a painting by Monet over one by Guillaumin just because Monet is more well-known and popular.”

    There are other words in the dictionary, so let’s not try to change the word beauty into something else, just find another word.

    One female commenter really sums up what’s wrong with the strong push to make classic beauty politically incorrect.

    “I think it would be far more beneficial for people to work on their self-esteem, either on their own or with professionals, than to try put some sort of ban on showcasing traditionally beautiful people because it might upset someone.”

    Which school of thought do you find most right? To stop portraying and praising beautiful women, or that it’s OK to appreciate that type of beauty without being afraid of damaging other people’s self-esteem?

    If anyone is interested, Noroc is already accepting donations here

    Below is the Buzzfeed video that started the debate.

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