Mihaela Noroc has photographed thousands of women in almost 100 countries. Her project “The Atlas of Beauty” is a collection of portraits and stories celebrating beauty in diversity – proof that beauty comes from within, can be found anywhere in the world, and goes beyond what the media prescribes as the standard.
Mihaela is a Romanian photographer with an inspiring life story. In her TEDx Talk in 2019, she spoke about how her life was quite ordinary and without any outstanding achievements until the age of 27. She even abandoned photography after her university teachers discouraged her from pursuing it professionally. But how did someone with such a common lifestyle turn into an adventurous globetrotter with a vision?
It might sound predestined when you understand that her family name, “Noroc”, actually means “Luck” in Romanian. But Mihaela has proven that luck is something you make yourself. How did she do it? She found her inner strength, which she calls “XPower”. A power that we all have inside but which differs from one person to another. For her, it was Intuition. She followed her intuition when she decided which places to go to, which street to walk on, whom to ask for a photo. And she didn’t become discouraged when she faced the first roadblocks.
She continued to do what she felt was right, and discovered touching stories of women all over the world who had found their XPower: the mental strength of a woman who lost her ability to walk following an accident and her determination to fulfill her dreams, support her family, and help others. The motherly love of a South American teenager and her power to do everything she could to raise her child despite difficult living conditions. And so many other examples that make us see that real beauty comes from kindness and humanity.
But what makes it so difficult for us to find our own XPower? Mihaela talks about how finding your way in life can be hard when you are overwhelmed and misled by the mirage of beauty and success presented in the media: specific body types and facial features, luxury and wealth, and the precise steps to follow in order to achieve them.
Mihaela encourages women to let go of these conventional standards, to go after what feels right for them and what offers them real fulfillment, even if it is not something that will attract the admiration of millions of followers on social media.
The Atlas of Beauty is a vast project that aims to promote real beauty in a collection of photos and stories of women from almost 100 countries, published on Facebook and in a book that became a bestseller on 3 continents.
This idea attracted international names and her work has been featured by Oprah Winfrey, CNN, BBC, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes, as well as collaborations with Facebook and Mercedes.
Two years ago, Mihaela welcomed her baby daughter and travelled with her to almost 30 countries in 2 years. The pandemic made it more difficult to travel and take photos, but The Atlas of Beauty keeps growing and promises to be a life-long project.