The world we live in is filled with beautiful, unique human beings who come from diverse backgrounds, races, cultures. As much as the percentage of society accepting this fact is slowly increasing, there’s still that part of the world that wants to deny the existence of people with different races, cultures, traditions. To highlight the importance of this matter, Paris-based Russian photographer, producer, and documentary filmmaker Natalia Ivanova has created the project The Ethnic Origins of Beauty.
The Ethnic Origins of Beauty (Les origines de la beauté) is an author’s documentary, artistic, and research project about the ethnic diversity of mankind presented through the beauty of women of all ethnic groups of the world.
“The objective of this project is to show the real scale of ethnocultural diversity in a full, systematic and creative way; to illustrate each and every distinctive ethnicity, however small it is, and whatever its official status,” says Ivanova when reached out by Earthwonders.
“To reach the hearts of the broadest international and multicultural audience, as well as to communicate about our differences in a positive and aesthetic way, the language of beauty has been chosen.
Every single ethnic group in the project will be presented by beautiful, intelligent and charismatic young women (by photo-portraits and video interviews), who talk about their people, culture and traditions through the lens of their own lives, experiences and impressions,” explains Ivanova.
Based on these interviews there will be created a 45-minute film-episodes on each ethnic group. These films form a multi-part documentary cycle, which is already being broadcast on the project’s YouTube channels in three languages. French : Les origines de la beauté, English : The Ethnic Origins Of Beauty, and Russian : Национальные истоки красоты.
There’s a set of criteria these women have to meet in order to be able to represent their own ethnic group. They have to be 18-35 years old ; belonging to one ethnic group for at least three generations ; natural beauty face ; awareness and knowledge of personal ethnic origins, culture and traditions of represented people.
This project has had quite some big achievements and acknowledges since its beginning in 2012. The team has managed to capture more than 250 photo and video portraits representing more than 110 ethnic groups from around the world, it has received the acknowledgment of UNESCO and was first officially presented at an exhibition devoted to international women’s day in March 2014, at its Parisian headquarters, and also it has attracted the attention of international universities (University of York (UK), University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, National University of Singapore, University of Waterloo in Canada, and others) and established cooperation for using the portrait collection of world nationalities for scientific research. Despite all that, in February 2021 photos and videos of the “The Ethnic Origins of Beauty” project have become part of a permanent exhibition at the National Museum of Science and Technology of India, in a pavilion dedicated to the human genome and ethnic diversity, initiated by the museum itself.
This project surely comes with a high educational significance, spreading knowledge over diverse ethnic groups around the world, seeking to contribute to the harmonization and strengthening of tolerance in inter-ethnic relations through the search for beauty in every person, equal attention to every ethnicity, respect and positive interest for the particularities of each other, encouraging intercultural dialogue.