by Lale Arikoglu
Photographer Mihaela Noroc is drawn to women; it’s much more complicated to approach men, she says. And she’s getting quite a response to her work: The Bucharest-born artist has 206,000 followers (and counting) on her Instagram account, The Atlas of Beauty, where she “celebrates the diversity of this fascinating world” by documenting women—real women—around the globe. Her four-year-long project is now a book of 500 portraits, spanning nations and generations. On one page, you might find an image of a woman on her motorbike in Central Mongolia, while on another, a woman stands with her bicycle in Iran, where religious authorities discourage women from riding bikes altogether. There are photos of students, dancers, pilots, actresses, refugees, sisters, mothers, and octogenarians. They represent Mexico, India, Ethiopia, Italy, even North Korea. We spoke with Noroc, who’s in Berlin for the next few months, about her experiences circling the globe with a camera in hand, and how these women have helped shape her own definition of beauty.