Only a few days after International Women’s Day, while some claim it to be an outdated cause, I came across this wonderful and inspiring project by a Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc, named Atlas of Beauty. 3 years ago Mihaela quit her job and started traveling the world to document natural women surrounded by their culture. She wanted to photograph women from each country of the world, to show that beauty is everywhere. Noroc took a backpack, her camera and began to travel around the globe, with savings made in years of working.
It was not the first time to run across the Atlas of Beauty project, I must admit, but this time it inspired me more. No, the essence of International Women’s day is not outdated, on the contrary it is a good time to continue to sound the call for change and reflect on the progress that still needs to be made across the world against discrimination.
If there is one cause that every woman breathing should support, it is this…
We must consciously embrace diversity.
That is, we must appreciate the richness of difference that exists in our human family, empathize with all types of people, and wage war against discrimination.
The human race is extraordinarily diverse in so many ways. Gender, ethnicity, race, class, religion, nationality, sexuality, philosophy, lifestyle. The areas in which we differ are endless.
Yet, at a basic level, we are all of the same human species. We experience highs and lows in life and strive to be happy and fulfilled.
Our common pains and joys are what bring us together, but our diversity makes us unique.
The diversity of our existence is beautiful, but people today are still entangled in a predicament, one that has plagued mankind since the beginning of time.
So many people have died or been deprived of basic rights because of a lack of understanding — an understanding that difference in appearance, belief, or way of life does not make one person better than another.
And tragically, the problem still exists today.
There are still plenty of apparent examples all around us, with various religious wars and genocides happening all over the world. But, this problem takes less obvious forms as well, and we are not immune to its effects.In most of our minds, we possess assumptions that make us judge, avoid, or act awkwardly towards people who are different than us. Here are a few examples.
-Groups of friends at a college consisting almost entirely of individuals of the same race or ethnicity.
-Would-be husbands assuming their future wives will clean, cook, and take care of the kids.
-A boss choosing to hire an employee whose name sounds more familiar to his ethnicity than a more qualified applicant.
Consider the unnecessary struggles of those targeted by discrimination. Real people, just like you or I, feel alienated, bullied, despised, and mistreated every day. Many of them are being deprived of basic rights.And, it only becomes worse if we talk about gender discrimination across the world.
Prejudice and unfair assumptions are the enemy of everyone. How can we overcome them? Here are a few strategies suggested by Jordan Bates.
1. Everyone’s Narrative – Consider your own life, and everything that has shaped your beliefs. Realize that each of the 7 billion people on this planet has their own narrative. Not one is the same.
2. Where are you coming from? – When you find yourself thinking poorly of someone, stop and consider what influences have created your negative views of that individual.
3. Befriend all people – If you know that you tend to avoid befriending certain types of people, go out of your way to find friends of all kinds.
4. Empathy – When you encounter anyone, try to imagine, understand, and sympathize with that person’s story, with everything that has made them who they are.
5. Actively accept – meditate upon embracing other people, with all of the diversity that comes with them. Don’t allow yourself to define a person based upon one stereotype about one aspect of their complex identity.
6. Show compassion – Perform random acts of kindness for all types of people. It can be as simple as a friendly smile or holding open a door.
Understanding and accepting people from all walks of life is key to finding peace in our lives. But beyond that, it is of the utmost importance to making the world a place where all can live freely and without fear.
So practice empathy, don’t be quick to judge, and envision life in another’s shoes before you treat them unfairly. It’s up to us women to make the difference.
Images By Photographer Mihaela Noroc – The Atlas of beauty