Unpacking the Beauty Beef: James Charles vs. everyone

Drama in the YouTube beauty community is ever-evolving and so very confusing sometimes. Lily has taken apart their most recent feud between Tati and James Charles to save you clicking on endless headlines that don’t tell you the whole story.

When I woke up this morning I opened my BBC News app and was confronted with the ‘flawless’ face of James Charles staring back at me. As it turns out, in 2019, news that a YouTuber had lost 1 million subscribers is front page material. Beauty gurus or YouTubers have drama that unfolds so fast that those out of the loop are left asking a lot of questions about these impeccably painted creatures. I’m here to help. I’ll be trying to decode the drama that’s happened recently between James Charles and Tati, and delve into some older YouTuber drama.

Let’s break this down.

  • James Charles is a 19-year-old YouTuber who posts a new video once a week. At the moment of writing he has 13 million subscribers, but that number is rapidly falling (his Social Blade live follower counter is CRAZY). Despite his racist tweets in the past (More on this later), the teenager is worth a reported $12 million dollars.
  • Tati is a 37-year-old YouTuber (real name; Tanya Westbrook) is also a beauty vlogger, who owns the brand ‘Halo Beauty. She has 9 million subscribers, and a purported net worth of $3 million dollars.

SO.
On the 10th of May, Tati posted a video simply titled “BYE SISTER.”

In this video, she addresses the rumours that she and James fell out after Mr Charles promoted a beauty vitamin brand on his channel. Tati was angry because SHE owns a brand that flogs beauty vitamins too, Halo Beauty, and he promised never to promote any other vitamin (I’ll remind you that all of these people are ADULTS).

In her exceedingly long video, Tati goes on to explain how she mentored James Charles and how her and her husband essentially have given him a springboard into fame. Tati feels that she had done so much for the teen that when he promoted Sugar Bear Hair it felt like she had been used.

To add some excitement into what would usually be a rather boring feud about promotions and friendships, Tati spilled some more explicit tea about James. She says that James, who is openly gay, has been accused of pursuing straight men and making them question their sexuality. Tati claimed that James told her that he could say whatever he wanted because ‘he was famous’.

So, that’s a lot.

And then good ol’ Jeffree Star threw one of his very expensive hats into the ring. Jeffree, who is 33 years old and worth around $50 million, tweeted to say that Charles was a ‘danger to society’ after Mr Star’s boyfriend Nate banned James Charles from their mansion in LA. Jeffree is like the Mafia boss of YouTube, declaring people as ‘cancelled’ after any sort of scandal.

I’ve mentioned James’ racist tweets. They came 2017, when Ebola claimed 11,325 lives, with well over half of the people who died as a result of the disease being African. In February of 2017, when he was the spokesperson for the brand Covergirl, Charles tweeted ‘I can’t believe we’re going to Africa today omg what if get Ebola?’ when he was headed for South Africa, a region which hasn’t had an outbreak since 1996. His comments were criticised for blatant racism, ignorance and reinforcing unhelpful stereotypes about Africa. Recently, he’s also managed to offend another whole group of people when he claimed that ‘he wasn’t fully gay because he’s fancied transmen before’. Sister James, transmen are men and you are invalidating them by claiming you’re ‘not gay’ for being attracted to MEN. I also find him a poor role model for his young audience as he regularly Facetunes his pictures, leading to them believe that if they just bought the products he uses that they’ll look as impossibly flawless as he does? It’s all false advertising.

J Star

Well. I’ve mentioned him now. It’s like Beetlejuice, you say his name more than once and he’ll appear in the room drinking a Red Bull and bragging about his extensive collection of Louis Vuitton luggage.

Jeffree Star has essentially fallen out with a lot of the big stars of the YouTube beauty guru community; Nikki Tutorials, Kylie Jenner, Jacylin Hill, just to name a few. However, the biggest scandal, nicknamed ‘dramageddon’ came in August of 2018, when a string of cryptic tweets and group photos of the gurus Manny MUA, Laura Lee, Nikita Dragun and Gabriel Zamora posing with the caption, ‘bitch is bitter because without him we’re doing better’.
I retract my statement cryptic, there was NOTHING cryptic about this whole affair. It was well documented that all of these people had formerly been friends with Star (filming videos, using them as models for his campaigns etc etc), but had since decided that they no longer wanted to spend time with him.

Things got juicy, however, when Zamora tweeted ‘Imagine stanning a racist? I could never.’ This is in reference to Jeffree Star’s string of racist acts and accusations. (Including screaming the N-word, suggesting a black woman lighten her skin with acid and his apparent use of the word gorilla to describe the black beauty guru, Jackie Aina)

However, Zamora had made a HUGE mistake; having racist tweets of his own. They were promptly were dug up by Star’s fans. Tweets that showed him using the ‘N-word’ were unearthed and he became yet another YouTuber people were rapidly unsubscribing from. Laura Lee, a 29 year old woman from Alabama didn’t miss out of being discovered as a closet racist, as vile tweets from her past were revealed, including one where she advised black people to pull up their trousers so they could run away from the police faster. Nikita Dragun had tweets that joked about child abuse AND racism, and even though they didn’t find any ‘dirt’ on Manny MUA,  he still made an apology video (a staple of YouTube scandals) so he didn’t feel left out, I guess?

From Laura Lee’s infamous apology video

Ever since Jeffree Star’s docu-series with Shane Dawson (who has his own bevy of questionable choices, including blackface) was uploaded to YouTube, it seems that people have been forgiving Star for his problematic past, which is something I just can’t do. I can’t sit comfortably with a man who holds so much power over a whole industry, when he’s still bullying people on Twitter, and the rumours of his racism have yet to be proved or disproved. If you want to know what type of melanin levels his fans are, just take a look at the concealers that are left available to buy in the UK. The fairer shades have all sold out, while they remaining shades are all distinctly darker….

So, there you have it. You have dipped your toes into the world of YouTube drama, and I’m sure that’s not where it’s going to end.

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