The most beautiful map of the world is sitting on my desk. It overflows with landscapes and contours not typical for an atlas.
That’s because author Mihaela Noroc’s new book, The Atlas of Beauty, is a map of faces. It’s shares her four-year journey collecting hundreds of faces and stories of women from over 60 countries. Each picture captures the beauty of their culture and the soulful spirit of women.
Even though Noroc’s art is so visually compelling, it raises deeper questions about the meaning of beauty. The pictures are magical and show most women without makeup. But in a National Public Radio interview, Noroc admits many women were hesitant to appear this way. Often they saw themselves as anything but beautiful.
What is beauty?
Why is this such a universal feeling among women? What is beauty in our visually-oriented world? Too often, beauty is fabricated and sexualized in social media profiles and images that applaud slender bodies, bigger lips, and wrinkle-free faces. Beauty is synonymous with flawless, idealized and conformist standards. What happened to the beauty in our souls and hearts? Have we space in the world for something more authentic?
Thankfully, what resonates in Noroc’s book is a deeper perspective on beauty. Noroc’s photos redirect our superficial views, drawing us into a more spiritual understanding of beauty. Her portraits are simple. Women are seen in the larger totality of their life experience. And, something about each woman shines from their center and outwards.
So where does the half a trillion dollar cosmetic industry fit in? For many, we are so hungry for beauty that we willingly spend time and money on endless beauty products. We want to feel attractive and and translate this feeling into happiness. Of course, this is natural but maybe we need to explore a deeper and more artful question: what is our true relationship with beauty and makeup?
Beauty Through the Eyes of a Makeup Artist
The advent of Halloween seemed like an ideal time to ask this question. When I saw the eye makeup photo above and the artful Halloween designs done by this young makeup artist I knew personally, I thought she might offer some interesting insights about the role of makeup in people’s lives.
Her artistry is certainly undeniable in the variety of stunning and fun looks pictured below, including the cover image at the beginning of this article. She inspired me to reconsider the role of makeup. Like many artists, Kelley uses social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to promote her KelleyOnTheBeat glam makeup services. What captured my attention was a follower who asked her how she wore so much makeup. Kelley answered with a 30 second video and two simple words, “Like this.”
Over 2 million people watched that video! Kelley’s video was 30 seconds of faces filled with colors that were far from subtle. They broke all the rules. Her purple lips and rainbow glitter eyes created bold, bright looks that were both fun and fantastical. What I couldn’t understand was why women responded in droves to these glamorous and theatrical looks. Was it pure escapism or something deeper?
I interviewed Kelley about her creative inventions and discovered an attitude to life grounded in the joyful expression of self. I think you’ll agree and see why her brand is a celebration of the sacred beauty in each of us. As with all art, “there is a ray that springs for the sacred depths of the soul and illuminates the body.” (20th century Lebanese writer, Kahlil Gibran.) Here is that interview.
Q&A With KelleyOnTheBeat
Q: Why do you love makeup Kelley?
K: I love how makeup makes women feel. When they look in the mirror, they see something new and a beauty they might not have appreciated before. I started experimenting on friends when I was a freshman in college, and saw how happy it made them feel. Before I knew it, people were asking me to do their friends’ faces, weddings and proms.
Q: What should every woman know about makeup and beauty?
K: Everyone can feel beautiful and do their own makeup. For me, makeup should be a creative outlet. It can be a source of confidence and enjoyment. Of course, everyone is beautiful without makeup. Beauty is inside.
But makeup can help you share your creativity and personality with others. Recently, I’ve even noticed that more men are wearing makeup. I think James Charles is the first Cover Girl man.
I’m not sure but what’s wrong with men expressing this creative side. I would love to be able to make up a man’s face. Not everyone has been supportive of men wearing makeup, but it’s nothing new if you look at history and other cultures around the world.
Q: What future dreams do you have in the industry?
K: I want to work for myself but I would love to build relationships and collaborate with other artists. It would be great to influence the marketplace and I hope to own my own shop someday to provide women and men with the services they want.
Q: Do you collaborate with other makeup artists?
K: Yes. I’ve worked with a group of about twelve other artists and actually initiated a few collaborative projects. We talk about products and have challenged each other to do color-looks and themes to motivate each other.
I learned that I could take the lead and influence others to grow artistically and connect in meaningful ways. We’ve become friends and I am now an ambassador for Glam Glitters.
Q: Why do you do glam makeup?
K: Glam is the best way to be creative – natural and browns are simple. Glam is big and not necessarily for everyone but it brings in colors and diverse opportunities for interesting and fun techniques. Glam also forces people to have an opinion about makeup. In a way, it’s like art therapy.
Q: Where can people see your work?
K: My YouTube channel is up but I’m still busy with school until I graduate this year. I’m not concerned with making money right now and want to enjoy meeting people and answering makeup questions. I love doing Facebook live because I can interact with more people, get good feedback, and answer questions. I post my status when I’m LIVE and people usually share it by joining my friend list.
Important writer’s note: Kelley is the youngest of my three daughters and I couldn’t be more proud.