Mihaela, a 29 year old photographer from Bucharest, Romania, launched this project in response to global trends which she believes put too much pressure on women by urging them to pursue a set of not easily attainable beauty standards. The message of the project is simple but powerful: everyone needs to treasure what makes them unique.
As Mihaela herself puts it, beauty is not about age, race or money, but more about being yourself, natural and authentic: just like the women in her photos. From the Amazon rainforest to the Tibetan Plateau, from Ethiopia to Australia, from the photographer’s native Romania to China; street merchants, students or hotel maids – whoever they are, wherever they come from, every single one of them is striking in her own way.
The beauty atlas has already attracted attention from major publications, as well as a certain measure of criticism from those who feel that despite the project’s declared message Mihaela is focusing too much on young women who fit the notions of “conventional” attractiveness enforced by western civilizations.
Mihaela does not leave these concerns unanswered: “I think it’s amazing,” she says, “that the women I photograph don’t consider themselves beautiful and people online say that they are too beautiful”. Nevertheless, in her future journeys she has already promised to capture even more diversity, in more countries.
However you choose to look at this (and regardless of your personal definition of beauty), The Atlas of Beauty undoubtedly deserves all the attention it is getting. The ideas of embracing your roots and taking pride in being different are something every one of us should be able to get behind.
Now that her project has received wide international coverage, Mihaela is not going to stop.
She has already visited 37 countries of the globe, but this is just the beginning. The photographer plans to pay a visit to every continent except Antarctica to make her beauty atlas as comprehensive as possible.
Everyone can participate in the creation of the atlas by making a donation on the project’s page (which will get you the complete e-book of Mihaela’s journey, as well as some other nice bonuses and the possibility to vote for future destinations). Visit the photographer’s website for other pictures or follow her on Instagram to see all of the new photos first.