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Embracing the Self: Alp Peker on Dismantling Inhibitions Through Visuals

By Marili - 4 min read

The #NotYourCliche movement is all about making visual representation a real reflection of the world we live in. In this guest post, Turkish photographer Alp Peker explains how he uses photography as a way to break down human inhibitions and embrace the full spectrum of weirdness.

I take photographs for a specific reason. We humans are all expected to know what we’re supposed to do, how we should act, what we shouldn’t say. We’re expected to live up to the roles prescribed to our race, gender, age. Some men are ashamed to act feminine. Some parents never want their children to discover sexuality. There are a lot of actions we’re prevented from doing – inhibited by society, or by ourselves.

“We’re embracing our bodies, knowing our awkwardness and trusting in who we are.”

I devote myself to taking photographs of individuals who are uninhibited, or as I like to say, “disinhibited.” Individuals who are aware of their power, owning their sexuality and accepting their identities. We’re embracing our bodies, knowing ourawkwardness and trusting in who we are. We’re not held back by mainstream consciousness. And these photographs all make me believe in a greater future. A much more powerful, cooperative and trustworthy world.

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Weirdness is a big subject in my photographs. Once that weirdness –so often judged by society – is photographed and put out into the world of visuals, it cannot be silenced. And some of my so-called weird thoughts are much better visualized, rather than expressed with words.

“Once thoughts are photographed and put out into the world of visuals, theycannot be silenced.”

Photography shapes my world. I’ve learned a lot about gender issues through social media; it makes me happy to see different gender identities and sexual orientations represented there. We live in a huge ocean, with waves of different frequencies and wavelengths. For me, photography is the best way to represent this situation. Representation is critical, because none of us come to theworld knowing orunderstanding the size of this ocean.

In this new age of technology, social media has become the greatest place to open us up to what we don’t see or experience in our own lives. The power of visuals is so strong. I could read so many words, books or articles but it still wouldn’t be as powerful as seeing an image of a man wearing makeup, looking like the happiest person in the world.

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I’ll start off with a simple definition, a fewwords from my education at medical school. Sexual orientation is the object a person wants to give or take pleasure from. There is this thought about sexual orientation being about genders. It’s not. A person can be attracted to trees, oceans, animals, different objects, lights, situations, happenings. That’s kind of why we’re always learning. You could be 40 years old and understand, in a moment, that you are sexually attracted to being in the sea while feeling the summer rain.

For me, it’s the orange lights of a sunset making a gradient through the waves. For someone else it’s touching the moss that forms on trees. It’s a wide range and it’s outdated to put it on genders alone. I think this wide range makes discrimination against homosexuality look silly. Sex and gender are different things as well. Male, female and intersex. These are the common biological sexes we humans possess.

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“Gender is something that starts and ends in our brains.”

Gender is something that starts and ends in our brains. Gender identification is another ocean, with no relation to our sexual orientations.Identifying as male, female, non-binary or gender fluid doesn’t have any relation to sexual orientation. It doesn’t need to be about being with the opposite biological sex or the same one. These two oceans are too deep. I find it unnecessary to fully try to understand them. What I do understand, though, is that everybody in the world deserves equal treatment and love. Everybody deserves to look like the happiest person in the world in a photograph.

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This guest post was written as part of #NotYourCliche, our movement away from antiquated stock stereotypes and towards a more relevant, inclusive, representative view of global culture and society. Explore more of Alp’s workon his EyeEm profile – or you can take a peek at his Instagram too.