CapU, What Are You Wearing?

Meet Ry Forsythe, Creative Writing Major

Mayumi Izumi (She/Her) // Columnist

Before majoring in communications at Capilano University, I studied fashion design at the International Academy of Design and Technology in Toronto and fashion merchandising at VCC (Vancouver Community College). Fashion was my first love.   Now, I am on a mission to find out what the CapU community is wearing, what influences the fashion trends on campus and discover who the people are behind the great outfits.  

RY FORSYTHE (they/them) – Creative Writing Major

I met second year Creative Writing major, Ry Forsythe in the Fall of 2021 when we were both part of The Liar editing team. This year we are in ENGL 295 – Literary Publishing together.  In a recent class, Ry was wearing an outfit reminiscent of the fashion worn by Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) in John Hughes’ classic 80s rom-com Pretty In Pink.  

Starting from the top, their ensemble is a bowler hat that Ry’s mother, Molly, found at the Granville Island Hat Shop. The blue vagina earrings are a unique gift created by @light3r.fluid, a youth whom they work with.  Ry is wearing a matching light blue tank top, bought from the Superstore just down the road from CapU. The flowing red pants are a hand-me-down from their mother. Molly is a self-proclaimed original hippie and discovered these pants at Coombaya The Hippie Store, a small shop that has since shut down in Coombs, BC. Wrapping up Ry’s outfit of the day are multicoloured Teva sandals, bought from SoftMoc at the Park Royal location. 

According to Ry’s mother, she is one of her child’s biggest fashion influences who often gives them a lot of her well-loved clothes, such as pants she no longer wears, and buys clothing that she knows they will like.  However,  Ry thinks they got their fashion sense from their maternal grandmother, a former model in the 1940s and 1950s. Especially in the colder months when the crisp air hits Vancouver, Ry can be spotted in warm sweatpants and sweatshirts, as their grandmother once did.

Being non-binary, Ry sometimes feels that they haven’t succeeded in expressing who they truly are through fashion, as they struggle with finding outfits they won’t be misgendered in. “The reality is many people will still look at a piece of clothing to determine how masculine or feminine you are and assume your identity.” Said Ry, “It really sucks that society sees androgyny as more “masculine”, when it doesn’t have to be, and I’ve been trying to recognize that I’m still non-binary in “feminine” clothes and I don’t have to wear my pronoun pin to be validated by other people.”

When I asked them what they don’t like in fashion, they said they dislike garments that are offensive and harmful to others.  When asked to explain what they meant by offensive, Ry said,  “I don’t mean anything that’s “too revealing”. People should be allowed to wear whatever makes them feel good, no matter the person’s size or identity. I mean clothes that are any of the isms (ie: racism)  or phobias (ie: transphobia) that are used to put people down. I guess in general, jerks…[who] think sharing harmful messages is doing any good.”

For those that have never felt gender dysphoria when choosing an outfit, it can be hard to grasp the feelings Ry has while trying to stay true to themself. 

Non-binary fashion rejects society’s rules and identifiers. Society put a label on colours, fabrics, style and for years people followed along. Gone are the days when someone wearing pink means they must identify as a woman. The goal of inclusive, non-binary clothing is to create a safe space for everyone, especially those in the LGBTQIA2+ community. This fashion is meant to showcase that the gender-neutral can feel accepted in whatever they chose to wear. 

In mainstream media we are seeing an influx of celebrities and influencers breaking the gender norms and wearing clothes that go against the outdated fashion “code”. We are seeing people like Lil Nas X, Harry Styles, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato wearing what they want, helping to boost awareness to androgynous fashion movements. However, it is important to note that these artists are not the first to do this, as it has been an ongoing movement since the 17th century, seen through many BIPOC queer people. Perhaps those that fit into the Millenial and Gen Z generation are just able to push more boundaries, and express themselves more openly through the use of social media. 

Ry graduated from Simon Fraser University (SFU) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, but decided to continue studying. They chose Capilano University because they liked that the campus is surrounded by nature, it’s close to their home and it has colourful murals spread throughout the campus, unlike their former university which just has a koi pond.

When I asked them what they enjoy most about the CapU community, Ry answered, “I enjoy seeing the ways in which students and teachers support one another and everyone’s excitement in sharing what they’re passionate about.”

After graduation, they plan to become a published author, an editor and creator of writing workshops for youth.

If you would like to learn more about Ry Forsythe, you can follow them on their Instagram @ry_writes_art and also their Twitter account @ry_writes_art.

Photo credit:  Ry Forsythe

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