Sai: Bravado


Sometimes it’s important to demonstrate a false show of confidence when you can’t quite get the real thing – and I think this is especially true for two groups: women and artists.
I’m not going to turn this into a feminist manifesto. It’s not news that women are socialized to defer and I’ve had decades of practice in fine tuning my own confrontational brand of courage and confidence as an extroverted female.
But this, more than any other, has been the year for bravado because this was the year that I decided to finally call myself an artist. I’ve been a professional face and body painting for 15+ years and a photographer for 6, but that was not enough. So I took night classes at my local art school and spent 3 years in the darkroom learning to make black and white, and then color photographs – thinking that if I just amassed a certain undefined threshold of skill and competence, then I would earn the title. That didn’t do it.
I’m not sure exactly when I decided I was sick of doing my work in secret, or for qualifying everything I put out as “practice” but it’s relatively new to me. I know that it was an internal decision rather than an external source of validation that did it – and the key ingredient was plain old simple bravado. Bravado is sometimes the only thing that separates the artists, the creators, the circus freaks and travelers from the rest.
As a little girl in a new country, I was shy and insecure. My English was clumsy, my nose was too big, my arms were to hairy, blah blah blah. But I learned to fake the signs of strength and confidence until I couldn’t tell the difference anymore and I knew I was strong and beautiful. Once again, I find myself in need of a little bravado to usher me towards a more authentic and real confidence – this time as an artist. For now, I’m determined and happy enough to fake it until I make it.