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Image / Living / Culture

This is why everyone is talking about James Charles (again)


by Jennifer McShane
20th Apr 2021
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At just 21-years-old, beauty influencer James Charles has been at the centre of several controversies. Now YouTube has demonetised his channel after several serious allegations of sexual misconduct.

All the drama surrounding James Charles essentially started in February 2017 after he posted racist tweets about Africa and the Ebola virus. Charles quickly deleted the tweets and issued an apology. Things escalated when he had a public falling out with fellow beauty blogger Tati Westbrook.

Beauty blogger Tati Westbrook is considered on US shores a veteran of the beauty blogging industry; at 39-years-old she has been in the business longer than Charles and was an early advocate and friend to the teen. She considered herself and her husband parental figures and mentors to Charles who was trying to find his footing. Regularly pushing his products on her channel, she urged her now 9 million followers to follow the youngster as he showcased the varying sides to his personality. Westbrook and Charles remained friends with Charles openly saying that Westbrook had made his career.

The fallout  

On the surface, it appeared to be about vitamins.

In late April 2019, Charles used his Instagram platform to promote Sleep Vitamins by a brand named Sugarbear. The problem was that Sugarbear is a competing beauty brand to Tati’s own company. Tati is the founder of a vitamin beauty brand called Halo Beauty (however, awkwardly, the blogger and her hisband are being sued by Clark Swanson, the third partner in the company that launched a line of beauty vitamins in 2018).

Westbrook responded by uploading a 43-minute video in May 2019 to YouTube called, Bye Sister – what James calls his subscribers. She detailed her reasons for her general unhappiness with his behaviour throughout their friendship. Charles responded with a shorter 8-minute video, offering an apology to Westbrook, her husband and fans for his behaviour.

The situation that unfolded was dubbed Dramageddon 2.0.

Fast forward to June 2020 and in a new video, Tati claimed that Dawson and Jeffree Star “gaslit” her into releasing her now-infamous video. Jeffree Star added his own unsubstantiated allegations, claiming that Charles was a “predator.”

Westbrook’s 2020 video

She began with an apology to Charles. “Since that night, James Charles has repeatedly said that he wanted to be beside me for this video. But I felt it was important that I do it alone, because he deserves my first apology,” Westbrook said. “And I am really sorry, James. And I’ve said that privately, but I want you to hear it publicly.”

“Over the course of the next few weeks, [Star] and Jeffree fed me so much information that I felt sick. Almost every day there was more information and new allegations,” Westbrook continued. “Eventually I started believing what they were saying, because they said they had evidence. By the time the drama around James Charles’ promotion of SugarBearHair reached its peak, I was beyond gaslit.”

Clearly distressed, Dawson went on Instagram Live to react to Westbrook’s video, calling her manipulative.

Dawson’s fiancée Ryland Adams also tweeted about the event, saying that Westbrook had given a “masterclass in manipulation.”

Allegations

In January this year, Charles faced backlash after defending two TikTok stars — 22-year-old Ondreaz Lopez and 19-year-old Xavier Lopez — after they faced numerous allegations of “grooming” underage boys. Since he has recently been at the centre of controversy after several minors accused the beauty YouTuber of sexual misconduct.

Earlier this month, he admitted to sending sexually explicit messages to two 16-year-old boys.

YouTube confirmed to the BBC that the 21-year-old – who has 25 million subscribers to his YouTube channel – had been temporarily removed from their Partnership Program.

Charles apologised on April 1st and acknowledged the accusations. YouTube now says that Charles has violated its “creator responsibility policy,” resulting in the temporary demonetisation of his channel.

“I realise that the receipts and screenshots and specific details of the interaction really don’t matter, because I f—ed up, and I need to take accountability for my actions and, most importantly, apologise to the people that were affected by them,” he said. “These conversations should’ve never happened, point-blank, period. There’s no excuse for it…. I take full responsibility for that.

He stressed that, as an adult, he now understands that it is his “job and responsibility” to verify the ages of those he’s talking to.

In a new statement, Charles denies the numerous allegations he did not touch on in his initial apology. “As I said in that video, I can’t show change overnight, but will overtime,” it reads. “Since posting that video, many other people have come forward with a series of misleading stories and false allegations which have been reported on by many people, creators, and news outlets. My legal team has begun taking action against those that have spread misinformation and/or created completely fake stories, as this has gone too far.”

The company didn’t clarify how long Charles’ channel would be demonetised.

Since, Morphe and James Charles announce they are ending their partnership and will “wind down sales of the Morphe x James Charles product,” in simultaneous statements. “