17 Gorgeous Photos That Show Beauty Knows No Race

For centuries, beauty standards have been undeniably Eurocentric. Such narrow criteria are difficult for anyone to achieve, but can be particularly alienating to women of color. One photographer, however, has decided to expand our understanding of beauty and prove that, in fact, it can be found anywhere and everywhere.

Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc quit her previous job and invested her savings in a portrait project she calls "The Atlas of Beauty." Now, Noroc has photographed women from 37 countries who demonstrate that, as she wrote about the project on Bored Panda, "beauty is everywhere, and it's not a matter of cosmetics or sizes but more about being yourself." The project is "A big bet," she told Mic. "But I hope I will win it."

Ecuador

EcuadorMihaela Noroc

Noroc has no formal criteria for selecting her subjects. "I just searched for natural and sincere faces that can tell a story about their cultural background," she told Mic. "In the end, beauty is in the eye of the beholder." She added that, in her opinion, "Beauty is diversity."

Ethiopia

Ethiopia Mihaela Noroc

Of course, Noroc's project is not without flaws. Her subjects, though racially and geographically diverse, still arguably appear to align with a stereotypically Western standard of beauty. Furthermore, it's important to emphasize that beauty should not be a determining factor of women's worth in the first place.

We must continue to advocate for a society in which women's intelligence, humor and capacity for empathy are held in higher regard than their appearance. But within the context of a society that has historically valued women based on a rigid understanding of beauty, any step towards widening such subjective ideals should be applauded. 

We should celebrate efforts to expand our understanding of beauty beyond the confines of the imperialistic standard that has been upheld for centuries. Appreciating diverse representations of beauty may be a small step towards a more equal world in which beauty no longer carries such oppressive weight — but it's an important step nonetheless.

Check out more of the lovely photos below. 

Nasir al-Mulk, Iran

Mihaela Noroc

Havana, Cuba

CubaMihaela Noroc

New York, NY

New YorkMihaela Noroc

Mawlamyine, Myanmar

Mihaela Noroc

Bogota, Colombia

ColombiaMihaela Noroc

Amazonian Rainforest

Amazonian Rainforest Mihaela Noroc

El Paico, Chile

Mihaela Noroc

Tibetan Plateau, China

Mihaela Noroc

New Zealand

Mihaela Noroc

Romania

RomaniaMihaela Noroc

Sumatra, Indonesia

IndonesiaMihaela Noroc

San Francisco, CA

Mihaela Noroc

Colca Valley, Peru

Mihaela Noroc

Yangon, Myanmar

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

BrazilMihaela Noroc

h/t Bored Panda