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This video shows what beauty looks like in 37 different countries

A portrait taken outside the Labrang monastery, in Xiahe, China.

A portrait taken outside the Labrang monastery, in Xiahe, China. Photo: Mihaela Noroc

As much as the ladymags and Victoria’s Secret would have you believe it, not everyone’s definition of beauty is skinny and blonde with big eyes, a narrow nose and a wide smile. Though the mainstream media tends to promote a fairly homogenous look, ‘pretty’ differs wildly depending on where you are in the world.

This video examines this notion. We live in a world populated by folks from different countries and of various ethnicities, all with vastly different ideas of what it means to be beautiful.

Created by 30-year-old photographer Mihaela Noroc, the video features portraits of women from 37 countries around the world.  The multi-year photographic project saw her travel from her native Bucharest up to the Arctic, thence through Russia and China to Japan, and later through Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Chile, Colombia, Peru and even the Amazon Rainforest.

Noroc went in search of “natural and authentic faces” without makeup and discovered most of her subjects via social media and on the street. To bring her into contact with as many people as possible, she couch-surfed and always travelled over land.

There are certainly standouts in the series, from the otherworldly beauty posed in a former mosque with light streaming in through stained-glass windows in Iran to the Tibetan woman at the monastery in Xiahe, China, with her ruddy, wind-chapped cheeks. Referring to the latter, Noroc told Forbes, “I think she was quite surprised when I told her that she was beautiful, and I think that that surprise is what shows in her face. You know, what I have learned? People don’t think that they are beautiful. But they are.”

The Atlas of Beauty is a work in progress that Noroc is funding herself and via crowdsourcing. Once she’s raised more money, she hopes to bring more ages and diversity into the project. A whole compendium of her portraits lives on her Tumblr.

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Henry Sapiecha

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