Shyla Charlebois, of Lumby, is competing against thousands of tattoo aficionados for the cover of Inked Magazine. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Inked Lumby lady builds self esteem through cover girl contest

Tattoos therapeutic and act of self expression for Blue Ox Pub chef

She may very well be the most tattooed person in Lumby, but she’s up against some tough competition to become Inked Magazine’s cover girl.

Shyla Charlebois was urged by friends to sign up, but the 32-year-old Lumby woman said she was hesitant because she’s not your “typical cover girl.”

She decided to throw her hat into the ring after friends told her that exact reasoning was her secret weapon in the competition.

And it’s working.

So far, Charlebois is sitting second among 36 women in her group for Round 1.

“It’s really about getting out of my comfort zone,” she said. “And building that self acceptance and confidence.”

But it’s also about honouring her late tattoo artist, Dave Fletcher, who passed away in October after falling ill.

Fletcher is the man behind Charlebois decade’s worth of artwork she wears proudly on her skin.

Tattooing is like therapy, she said. Many of her pieces represent those near and dear to her heart and those who she’s loved and lost.

It’s also a way she can express herself artistically.

Charlebois said cooking is another creative outlet she uses. She has been working as a chef at Lumby’s Blue Ox Pub for the past 15 years and, although the work may have been detrimental to the tattoos on her palms, she said it’s a great way to get creative.

Even though visible tattoos are becoming more common, Charlebois said she still gets double takes and some rude comments on occasion.

Someone once told her she must be going to hell as she is ruining God’s temple.

“I’m decorating God’s temple,” Charlebois said.

Her family, on the other hand, has been supportive of the artistic direction she’s taken with her skin.

She said her father is a “biker type” with full sleeves. She noted he often refers to her lovingly as “pin head” in acknowledgement of the 38 piercings she wears in her face and ears.

They, and Charlebois’ friends have been rallying behind her in the competition.

“It’s kind of gone viral on Facebook,” she said, referring to her contestant profile on Inked’s website.

The search for the cover girl is underway and the winner will take home the grand prize of $25,000 and an all-expense paid trip to join celebrity photographer Christopher Kolk for the cover shoot.

Last year, thousands of women registered to compete for the front cover spot on the “world’s number one tattoo lifestyle magazine,” the website reads.

Of the 36 models in Charlebois’ group, 20 will be selected by Feb. 20 to go onto Round 2 (Top 15), and it’s open to the public to vote. The final round begins April 3.

Even if she doesn’t win the grand prize, Charlebois said the experience is a win in of itself. But, if she were to win the $25,000, she said she’d spend some of that cash helping the kolas affected by the bush fires in Australia.

To cast your vote for the Lumby-raised woman, visit

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Shyla Charlebois, 32, is up against thousands for Inked Magazine’s front cover in its cover girl search 2020. (

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