Posted on: October 19, 2017 at 2:03 pm

It is an unfortunate reality that most advertisements and the media indoctrinate us to believe that the most beautiful people in the world must be skinny (1), light-skinned (2), and/or without disabilities (3).

Luckily, we can start to change the world by rejecting unrealistic, harmful beauty ideals – and embrace the truth that we are already beautiful, exactly as we are.

Photos: Beautiful Women from Around the World

We present here the selected works of Mihaela Noroc –  a photographer who has traveled to over 30 countries in the last 3 years to capture images of beautiful women all over the world (15). These pictures really do confirm that diversity is beautiful!

1) Burcu, from Turkey

2) A grandmother and granddaughter from Russia

3) A Tibetan woman in China

4) An insurance sales team from South Africa

5) A computer engineer in Egypt


6) A woman from the jungles of Ecuador

7) Emilia, from Sweden

8) A mother and her daughters from Syria (at the Indomeni Refugee Camp in Greece)

9) A Maori woman from New Zealand

10) Laile, from Italy

11) A woman on a beach in Brazil

12) A Palestinian woman and her Jewish friend in Jerusalem

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13) A deaf student from India

14) Maria, from Argentina

15) A family from Guatemala

16) Monika, from Macedonia

17) A Bavarian woman in Germany

18) An aspiring actress from Cyprus


19) Leeda, from New York City (US)

20) Two sisters from Switzerland

21) A passerby in North Korea

22) Eleni, from Greece

23) Iriana, from Uruguay

24) A busy woman from Myanmar

25) Jackie, from Canada

26) A woman of the Arbore Tribe in Ethiopia


27) Imane, from France

28) Dania, a martial artist from Jordan

Let Ashley Graham, a body positivity activist and plus-size model, help you take the first step to fighting negative self-perceptions (4):

The Problem with Limited Beauty Standards

It’s a well-known fact that media – from Hollywood films and TV to everyday advertisement – lacks diversity (3, 5), whether in terms of gender, race, body ideals, and/or disability. A 2014 study found that only 28.3% of all speaking characters in Hollywood films were racially or ethnically non-white, despite the fact that 40% of the US population identifies this way (5). In another survey, only 19% of people featured in advertising in the US were found to belong to minority groups, with a mere 0.06% identifying as disabled or belonging to the LGBT community (3).

This lack of visibility and inclusion of minority groups, as well as media’s insistence on Anglo-centric, pro-thin beauty ideals, are problematic for many reasons. Some examples include:

  1. The perpetuation of limited, unrealistic beauty standards. Our own beauty ideals are easily influenced by what we see (6). Mass media constantly mold our minds to believe that having lighter skin, smaller noses, thinner lips, thin bodies, and being without disabilities make us beautiful (2). We may thus unfairly hold ourselves and others to these limited ideals through social comparison (7), and maintain biases or prejudices against diverse races, ethnicities, and body types/features (8).
  2. Negative body image. When we come to believe that having certain traits is the only way we can be beautiful, we may start to feel ugly due to the traits we do not have – and obsessively strive to obtain them. This is true, especially for women and young girls (9):  In one survey, 42% of girls in grades 1-3 reported that they wanted to be skinnier (9), while 51% of 9 and 10-year-old girls reported that they feel better about themselves when they are on a diet (10).
  3. Low self-esteem. Studies have found that watching TV was associated with lowered self-esteem in heavier viewers (11). White and African-American girls, as well as African-American boys, also experienced lower self-esteem after watching TV, while white boys did not (12).
  4. Lack of information and resources for people in minority groups. Popular teen magazines, for instance, rarely provide beauty tips that address non-Anglicized features, like Afro-textured hair or darker skin (13).
  5. Lack of awareness and/or acceptance of other standards of beauty. People who subscribe to narrow definitions of beauty may be less inclined to notice or accept other definitions of beauty. In one study, white adolescent girls tended to hold more rigid views about beauty and experienced greater body dissatisfaction than black adolescent girls, who held a wider range of beauty standards and believed in “making what you’ve got work for you” (14).

In other words, being repeatedly exposed to less diverse media content that holds up white, skinny, and abled features as beauty ideals can make us feel worse about ourselves – and keep us ignorant and/or resistant to embracing other cultures and standards of beauty.

Luckily, this also means that we can reshape our standards or beauty through a similar process, but in reverse – by seeking and consuming diverse media content that values the beauty of all body shapes, colors, and sizes!

How can we foster diversity in mass media?

We can encourage the inclusion of diverse people in the media – and thus, further diversify our own standards of beauty – in the following ways:

  • Puting pressure on policymakers and media producers. Write to policymakers to implement laws about responsible advertisement standards when it comes to beauty, like ensuring that fashion models are at a healthy weight. Similarly, consider putting pressure on TV producers to include more diversity in their content, as diverse cast and crew have been associated with higher TV ratings (16).
  • Joining social media campaigns for diverse beauty standards. Raise awareness and make diversity a concern in the social media scene by participating in campaigns and events like Love Your Body Day.
  • Support diverse, inclusive media. Watch shows and films with diverse cast and crew, like Master of None, more often. Similarly, consider supporting businesses that portray healthier beauty ideals, like this underwear company.
  • Educate yourself and others about the need for diversity in the media. Take a course or learn more online about diversity and beauty standards. Understand that the media’s ideals of beauty can be narrow and problematic – and remind yourself not to attribute negative feelings about your body to your self-image!

Rejecting the predominantly white, ableist, thin ideals of beauty so often purveyed by mass media can be easier said than done. But by actively seeking, promoting, and immersing yourself in more diverse media content and standards of beauty, you may be able to take the first step to recognizing that you are beautiful, just for being yourself.


  1. Harrison, K. (2000).The body electric: Thin-ideal media and eating disorders in adolescents. Journal of Communication, 50(3), 119-143.
  2. Johnson, M. (2017). 10 Ways the Beauty Industry Tells You Being Beautiful Means Being White – Everyday Feminism. [online] Everyday Feminism. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  3. Rogers, C. (2017). Just 19% of people in ads are from minority groups. [online] Marketing Week. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  4. Graham, A. (2017). Plus-size? More Like My Size | Ashley Graham | TEDxBerkleeValencia. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  5. Smith, S., Choueiti, M., Pieper, K., Case, A. and Tofan, A. (2017). INCLUSION or INVISIBILITY? GENDER MEDIA, DIVERSITY, & SOCIAL CHANGE INITIATIVE Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA) Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment. [online] University of Southern California: Annenberg. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  6. Jucker, J., Thornborrow, T., Boothroyd, L. and Tovee, M. (2017). The effect of the thin body ideal in a media-naive population.
  7. Tantleff-Dunn, S., & Gokee, J. L. (2002). Interpersonal influences on body image development. In T. F. Cash & T. Pruzinsky (Eds.), Body Image:A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice (pp. 108–116). New York: Guilford Press.
  8. Dixon, A. and Telles, E. (2017). Skin Color and Colorism: Global Research, Concepts, and Measurement | Annual Review of Sociology. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
  9. Collins M.E. (1991) Body figure and preferences among pre-adolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 199-208.
  10. Mellin LM, Irwin CE & Scully S (1992). Disordered eating characteristics in girls: A survey of middle class children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 92, 851-53.
  11. Bailey, S.D.,&Ricciardelli, L.A. (2010). Social comparisons, appearance related comments, contingent self-esteem and their relationships with body dissatisfaction and eating disturbance among women. Eating Behaviors, 11, 107-112.
  12. Martins, N. and Harrison, K. (2011). Racial and Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Children’s Television Use and Self-Esteem. Communication Research, 39(3), pp.338-357.
  13. Duke, L. (2000). Black in a Blonde World: Race and Girls’ Interpretations of the Feminine Ideal in Teen Magazines. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 77(2), pp.367-392.
    Parker, S., Nichter, M., Nichter, M., Vuckovic, N., Sims, C. and
  14. Ritenbaugh, C. (1995). Body Image and Weight Concerns among African American and White Adolescent Females: Differences that Make a Difference. Human Organization, 54(2), pp.103-114.
  15. Noroc, M. (2017). About Mihaela Noroc. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  16. Hunt, D. (2017). Hollywood Diversity Brief: Spotlight on Cable Television.. [online] UCLA: Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. Available at: [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].

Image and Video Sources:

  1. Graham, A. (2017). Plus-size? More Like My Size | Ashley Graham | TEDxBerkleeValencia. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  2. Noroc, M. (2017). October 9 2017. [Blog] Available at:[Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  3. Noroc, M. (2017). July 3 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  4. Noroc, M. (2017). November 3. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  5. Noroc, M. (2017). May 9. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  6. Noroc, M. (2017). February 5 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  7. Noroc, M. (2017). February 14 2015. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  8. Noroc, M. (2017). June 30 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  9. Noroc, M. (2017). April 6. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  10. Noroc, M. (2017). March 6 2015. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  11. Noroc, M. (2017). October 5 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  12. Noroc, M. (2017). April 9 2015. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  13. Noroc, M. (2017). December 1 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  14. Noroc, M. (2017). July 19 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  15. Noroc, M. (2017). December 8 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  16. Noroc, M. (2017). March 14. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  17. Noroc, M. (2017). June 12. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  18. Noroc, M. (2017). September 27, 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  19. Noroc, M. (2017). September 20 2015. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  20. Noroc, M. (2017). May 24. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  21. Noroc, M. (2017). September 21 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  22. Noroc, M. (2017). March 18 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  23. Noroc, M. (2017). April 15. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  24. Noroc, M. (2017). December 26 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  25. Noroc, M. (2017). November 23 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  26. Noroc, M. (2017). August 15 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  27. Noroc, M. (2017). April 28 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  28. Noroc, M. (2017). December 5 2016. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
  29. Noroc, M. (2017). February 15. [Blog] Available at: [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].
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