I want to be a tree, a Nootka Cypress. I want to drape myself in a weeping cloak of mossy needles, in the shape of humility and perseverance. I want to, despite such vulnerability, point at the sky with an undeniable confidence in my being. I want to be consistently among changing seasons. I want to smell like the wind.

My UBC hoodie, no matter how comfortable, cannot give that to me.

Our bodies are collaborative art pieces between us and nature.

As art, we create ourselves inspired by existing forms. Fashion influences have shifted to increasingly abstract — concepts many degrees removed from anything tangible. Consider, clothing based on a ‘90s trend that is itself based on an older fashion — and so on until we do not remember.

Conversely, I’m a huge fan of tangibility.

At Runaway Moon Theatre’s Walk of the Woods, there were around twenty-five of us — some trees, some mushrooms and myself — dressed in a patchwork tunic depicting an entire forest. Friends and kids and their adults all walked together in curious “costumes.” I thought it was beautiful. I felt beautiful.

But the fast fashion cycle has no room for a forest.

On top of feeling quite sanitarily kitsch, modern fashion and beauty conventions have always been uncomfortably gendered to me. I have lived the common experience of alienation from my own body; arguments with parents about “what a girl should wear,” blurry-eyed last-minute shopping for a prom dress and inability to discern my own face from pictures of the night. From a Queer perspective, the idea of embodying something genderless is incredibly empowering.

But I understand not everybody wants to cosplay as a plant.

I have pretty radical opinions on beauty and fashion, but I think people are beautiful in confidence, no matter what clothes they wear. I just wish for someday, when I can look around, outside of contemporary art galleries, travelling puppet theatre wardrobes and my imagination — and see fashion that I find truly beautiful.

If not, I can always just walk into the woods.

This article is a part of The Ubyssey's 2023 creative non-fiction supplement, beauty.