Bethany Brill gave me a lollipop when I met her: a much needed momentary dose of sugar. We were in Dumbo, Brooklyn working on a photo shoot. I thought she was sassy and good at her job. Soon, I also noticed she had the ability to change the energy on set and in the most positive way. Maybe magnetic is the word?
Bethany is a self-taught hair and make up artist. You can find her aside Odile Gilbert shooting editorials and working every NYFW. She is dedicated to her work, and those dimples — forget it! I think her story about God is incredibly interesting. Everyone has their own ideas and views about life — what is, what was, or what wasn't. Becoming an adult is the best time to fully understand that your ideas can be, and should be your own.
After our conversation, I realized Bethany is more free than most people I know. When I say that, I am referring to pain. If ever you could learn from another's adversity, learn from Bethany. She managed to translate the physical and mental pain of her experiences into power, allowing herself to become a stronger, more well-rounded, and beautiful individual.
Was this God? For Bethany, yes. I asked a few more questions about her faith and listened.
Where are you from?
“I’m from a small town called Bergen, which is outside of NYC. My family moved to China when I was 14, back to states, then back to China at 17, before I moved to NYC!”
RELATED: This NYC Cool-Girl Spills Her Favorite Lipsticks
If you could have anything, say, three wishes for something, what would they be?
“I wish for the victims of sex trafficking to be freed. There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history. I wish everyone in the world could have clean drinking water. And, I wish for more wishes!”
RELATED: Meet A Business-Minded Woman Who Knows How To Have Fun
When is the last time you screamed? Why? What happened?
“Ah, I screamed today when my brother was tattooing me! It was right in the ditch of my elbow. That part kills.”
I enjoy hearing you speak about your God, going to church, your life, and how you’ve evolved as a young woman. It’s a beautiful and powerful story. Where do you believe your power or will comes from? As a person, a human, etc.
“Wow — what a great question. That really for me thinking. Well, when I moved to NYC at 19 with a naive attitude, I was quickly taken advantage of. No one cares about your dreams coming true except you. Soon after moving to NYC I was also raped. The combination of feeling taking advantage of and complete betrayal left me feeling duped. I made a decision that I was no longer the nice girl that people could walk all over, and that I was going to dig deep, figure this all out, and beat everyone at their own game. I wouldn’t be tricked again. I formed a callus over my heart where I had been betrayed and hurt. I thought I was being strong because I was able to just go on like nothing happened and got wise to the game in NYC. I would fight with anyone trying to give me less than my share.
"I now I see my real strength: when I am able continue standing strong in my circumstances with a softened and open heart. When I was exhausted from trying to just stay tough, I had ran out of strength (this was after a bad break up, drugs, and men; I felt all used up). That’s when I handed my life over to God with nothing to lose. He healed me of all those old wounds in the most gentle, loving way. I would just be praying, and the thoughts from my rape or a one-night-stand I had would pop into my head. I knew God wanted to help me heal. I would talk to God about it, and tell him about the shame I felt and the emptiness and I would cry and God would heal me. I don’t know how to describe it other than that. He sucked the zing out of the wound. It can still hurt if I think about the past but the intensity of the memory isn’t there anymore. One by one, God would heal these different wounds from my past. This was happening after I gave up all my drugs and sex. After a while, I felt whole again. To me, this wholeness gives me my strength. My ability to share my story gives me strength — the fact that God is using me despite all of my failures this gives me an inner confidence like no other. Just thinking about it reminds me how far I’ve come. I truly am a different person — a strong person — not because of what happened to me but because I have been made whole again with God's love.”
After an impressive run at glossies like Cosmopolitan & Seventeen that included styling, editing, and modeling (eh hem, slashie!) Jennifer Steele — now a stylist living in NYC — spends her days (& nights) curating the site GIRLS I KNOW.