These stunning portraits showcase courageous, talented women from around the world.

In 2013, Mihaela Noroc left her job, packed a backpack, and took off on an adventure most of us only dream about.

The then-28-year-old traded in her day job to travel the world, photographing women in their home countries and natural environments.

Three years on, she's still taking photos and sharing their stories through her digital project, The Atlas of Beauty.


A woman in Banjara peels shrimp at a fish market in Mumbai, India. She arrived here from Southern India, in search of new opportunities for her children. All photos by Mihaela Noroc, used with permission.

Traveling on a shoestring budget, Noroc meets and photographs women from all over the world.

She's traveled to six continents and more than 50 countries, connecting with women across geographic, economic, and social lines.

A woman in Cape Town has sold meat in this very spot for the past 30 years. "I was fascinated by the gentleness of this lady in such a rough environment," Noroc posted.

From isolated areas in Afghanistan and Brazilian favelas to urban centers like Istanbul and New York, Noroc finds beauty everywhere she goes.

A beautiful shot of a woman in Shiraz, Iran.

She captures some portraits quickly on busy street corners.

On her first day in Beijing, Noroc met a young woman who hopes to sing with the Peking Opera.

Others take time and immense patience, as she meets the women for more elaborate shoots.

Eleni, from Delphi, Greece, wears contemporary clothes most days to work in her family restaurant. But once a year, during Easter, she celebrates in traditional garments with her community.

But each photograph celebrates strong, talented, beautiful women from around the globe.

A mother poses with her daughters. They're refugees from Syria living in a camp in Idomeni, Greece.

If there isn't a language barrier, Noroc often engages the women in conversation.

In discussing their families and dreams, the subjects often tap into universal feelings, concerns, and goals that many women share.

Like Urvashi Patole, who started an all-women's motorcycle association in India and is empowering women to go on adventures and challenge stereotypes.

"After photographing women in more than 50 countries I can say that beauty is everywhere, and it's not a matter of cosmetics, money, race, or social status, but more about being yourself," Noroc wrote.

A Kichwa woman living in the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon rainforest poses for Noroc in her wedding outfit.

Noroc hopes to publish the first edition of "The Atlas of Beauty" in 2017.

For now, she continues to travel the world, camera in hand and the same well-loved backpack along for the ride.

A young woman living in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor.

"Every day, when we watch mass media we see an Atlas of Wars, Conflicts, and Fear," she said. "More than ever, I think our world needs an Atlas of Beauty to show that diversity is something beautiful, not a reason for conflicts."

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less