By Jenna Anderson

One of the beautiful things about art is the ability to correct it. If you make a brush stroke you don’t like, you can paint over it. If you drew something that looks a bit wonky, you can fix it or draw another picture. Made a stitch that isn’t working for you? Pull it out. Even movement art, like dancing, can be corrected. If you take a wrong step at your recital, you made a mistake and that sucks, but then you practice the dance for next time and get better at it.

You are who you are, and your appearance doesn’t change that, but it is your canvas to colour, dress, make up, accessorize, pierce and tattoo as you wish. It’s what the world sees when you emerge from your home and the first impression people have of you. It’s what you will see when you look in the mirror every single day for the rest of your life. Your body is your most-used and most-seen work of art.

In many ways, all bodies are similar. But your body is your personal canvas. On it, you create and edit to get the look you want. Not everyone puts thought into this, but I think it’s worth considering. A few questions to ask are:

  • What look makes you happiest?
  • What suits your lifestyle and your activities?
  • How do you want to present yourself to the world? What makes you happy when you look in the mirror?

This isn’t about anyone else. It’s about you. You should create yourself in a way that you love.

The first thing many people do to adorn themselves is put on clothes. Clothing is the most common way of expressing yourself. It can mark the difference between working at an office and going out to the club. You can wear lingerie to feel sexy or for a partner, or you can laze around in your comfiest sweats. I love the colour purple and think I look good in grey, so I wear purple and grey whenever I can. Your colours might be totally different, and that’s good.

But if you’re always wearing the same colours or styles, you might want to switch it up. Have you ever worn a crop top? Give it a shot! Grab high-waisted jeans, a long dress or something else you don’t usually wear from the thrift store and give it a whirl! If you find you like the new style, run with it! If you don’t, just toss it in the give-away pile.

The next step is jewelry and makeup. What colour eyeshadow do you think looks best on you? Are your nails going to be bright and eye-catching or blend in a little more? Accessories add so much to a look. Do you wear one delicate ring or several bulky ones? A big necklace without earrings or go with the hoops? Or all of the above? The choice is up to you, but it is always fun to experiment. If you’re always wearing bright red lipstick, try on an orange or purple. If you never wear jewelry, put on a necklace one day. You might find a new look that you love.

Hairstyles and hair colouring are the next step up the chain. They can be edited and changed, but it takes some time for the canvas to return to its original state. If you’ve never had pink hair, you might want to try out a temporary dye before taking the leap. Although, if you use a permanent pink and hate it, you can shave your hair off. Then you have to wait a while before you can dye it, but at least you were adventurous and can say you gave it a shot. You don’t want to end up with a job that requires you have natural hair and be regretting never shaving off half or having purple streaks before settling into that position..

Another type of personal art is body sculpting. Some people spend hours upon hours working with individual muscles to get the body they want. There are many different looks for your muscles and it can be a great adventure to try different looks out. This takes a lot of time. Building muscle is a serious commitment, and not just in the gym. Any bodybuilder or sculptor will tell you that it’s about nutrition too. A decision to build your body will take a lot of hard work and time, but it’s another way for you to be creative with your look. And, as a bonus, hitting the gym and eating well is a great step towards a healthier lifestyle.

Tattoo artist Kendall Marie.

Piercings and body modifications take another step forward. Our piercings are a way of editing the canvas and it can be an edit that other people see every day, or a private change that isn’t visible to the world. Piercings can be removed, but they come at the cost of money and pain, and sometimes leave behind a scar or stretch. The canvas isn’t always the same after. Some of the brushstrokes leave an echo behind.
And tattoos. Oh, beautiful, colourful, creative tattoos! Becoming more mainstream, tattoos are considered the more permanent of the body arts. The cost and difficulty of their removal makes them a much more lasting painting, but that’s part of their beauty, isn’t it?

Deciding to get a tattoo is a decision to change your canvas permanently, and it’s a very personal thing. Size, content, colour and location are all your choice to make. You can choose a small word in a discreet location or you can go with a huge chest or back piece that can’t be missed.

Try different things. Buy an outfit in a new style and see how it feels. Get that haircut you’ve always been too scared to try. It’ll grow back. Eat something new and see how your body responds. Decide you can handle the pain and get that piercing you’ve been eying up. Consider it carefully, then go get that tattoo that means so much to you.

It’s your body, your canvas. It’s the first way others see you, but you’re the one who lives in it. So, have fun with it! Make it a piece of art that you love, that makes you smile every time you see it.

Article by Jenna Anderson, a Winnipeg writer and videographer. You can find her on Twitter @reallyjenna.