For this week’s discussion, “Show me Beauty”, I do not think there is a better example than Mihaela Noroc’s Atlas of Beauty. Mihaela is a women from Romania whose life work is centered around traveling the world and photographing women to better understand the true concept of beauty. She has been to over 60 countries since beginning the Atlas 4 years ago and chooses to focus on the role culture plays when describing a woman’s beauty. She says, “In my opinion, beauty means to keep alive your origins and your culture. To be natural, sincere, authentic, particular, not necessary fashion.” Nothing about Mihaela’s Atlas is tied to men or how men view these women, instead it acts as a example of freedom of the sexes, and that women’s beauty is not, and will not, be dependent on men’s standards. Her goal is to continue her work for many years and study beauty in all countries of the globe. She strives to make this Atlas a project known around the world as an inspiration for all women that try to be themselves. Her hard work and dedication to women is in inspiration on its own, but her work is worth celebrating!
“In my opinion, beauty means to keep alive your origins and your culture.”
I first learned about this project about a year ago when I stumbled across one of the pictures on Pinterest. Since then, I have kept up with it and often gone to it when I feel like I feel like I lose track to what is important in life. It’s easy for me to think of our college town as a fishbowl and I get so caught up with what everyone looks like, wears, size, etc that I lose a firm grasp of reality and what lies outside of Athens, Ga. Mihaela’s project shows me what is out there to be discovered as well as gives me a quick glimpse into each specific women’s life. In the short film produced by Oprah Winfrey, Mihaela says she hopes her photos tell a story and allow you to, just for a quick second, jump into a woman’s life when looking into her eyes- because they are the truest part of her body. I 100% agree with Mihaela, because although it is easy to get swept up in our own insecurities when looking at a beautiful person, the Atlas is about seeing more than just their exterior but seeing them as their entire true self- because that is where their beauty comes from.
So this is me thanking Mihaela for thinking of beauty in a different way. By focusing on the individual’s life, struggles, and joy, while never forgetting her culture and what makes her who she is, the Atlas redefines what it means to have beauty.This Atlas signifies the woman’s ability to be beautiful in her own right, not by standards set by men. In Simone De Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex”, she discusses the restraints placed on women by saying, “She is simply what a man decrees; thus she is called ‘the sex.’ by which is meant that she appears essentially to the male as a sexual being. For him she is sex- absolute sex, no less. She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is the incidental, the inessential as oppressed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute- she is the Other.” With this piece Mihaela makes it very clear that the woman is NOT the other, instead she is the subject of her own life and her beauty comes from within. The Atlas of Beauty serves as more than just a collection of pictures, but a story book for souls- each one with the ability to invoke a different feeling into your heart and make you rethink what you think you “know” about the beauties within our world.
Website Reference: http://theatlasofbeauty.com
Oprah interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znRNkNNHe3o
Beauvior, S. (1952). The Second Sex. In W. K. Kolmar & F. Bartkowski (Eds.), Feminist theory: A reader (pp. 147-158). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.