All the internet is talking about today is James Charles & Tati Westbrook‘s feud. I love spilled tea a LOT, but even I scratched my head at this very YouTube-focused drama. If you’re not deeply entrenched in makeup tutorial YouTuber culture, you might be the same. Maybe you are yelling at your phone “WHAT IS A JAMES CHARLES AND A TATI WESTBROOK!?” Well, get ready to do some learning, kids. I’ve deep dived these two and their drama so you don’t have to.
Let’s start with who the fuck these people even are. James Charles rose to fame after his yearbook photo – complete with beauty ring light – went viral as a meme.
The post catapulted him and his epic makeup talents to stardom – scoring him the coveted title of first male face of Covergirl at just 17, plus a partnership with Morphe. He also gained a huge following on YouTube, where he posts makeup tutorials that have had over 1.7 billion views. At it’s highest point his channel had 16.6 million subscribers.
However, Charles quickly became controversial after posting an offensive Tweet in which he joked about potentially contracting the Ebola virus in Africa.
He apologised, saying “I am extremely sorry for what I said. There are no excuses. No one owes me forgiveness, but I’ve learned a lot from the experience. I hope that the people who might look up to me will be able to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them.” However, one month later in March 2017 the YouTuber was under scrutiny again after fellow YouTuber Thomas Halbert shared screenshots of conversations with Charles where he admitted those high school prom photos he alleged were retaken with a ring light – yep, the ones that shot him to fame – were actually edited and the story never happened.
THEN he had everyone up in arms after he attended the Met Gala and posted this weird shit about influencer “representation”.
So Charles was already a controversial public figure, k? Moving on to Tati Westbrook.
Westbrook has been in the YouTube beauty scene for ages, and the 37-year-old became a mentor figure for Charles – even having him do her wedding makeup when he was just 17.
The two had a close relationship until Coachella Week One, when James Charles posted and Instagram Story promoting Sleep Vitamins by that Sugar Bear Hair company, you know, the one all the Instafamous people flog all the time?
Anyway, Tati Westbrook was NOT having this – because she owns a supplement company called Halo Beauty.
Tati posted a “reaction video” on Instagram (I cannot with these people) not naming names but saying she felt “lost” and “betrayed” thanks to a friend who had “used” her. Then James Charles posted a statement about his decision, saying – I shit you not – that he did the spon story because…
“This weekend I did an Instagram story for sleep vitamins that I’ve been taking because the brand helped me with security when the crowd around me at Coachella became unsafe. I did not accept any money from this post.”
Wait, what? You felt unsafe so you… did a sponsored post in order to use Sugar Bear Hair’s security? Beb just go to any normal plebby security. Anyway. Whatever. Wild shit.
Then this guy, Gabriel Zamora, got involved for some reason – calling out Tati for being “fraudulent”.
I said it before – I CANNOT WITH THESE PEOPLE. Anyway, then came the video – Tati Westbrook’s “Bye Sister”, a 43 minute long take-down of James Charles by his former mentor. It’s now racked up almost 30 million views.
TL;D…Watch? Yeah, same – so I’ve enlisted the brilliance of our Weekend Editor Alasdair Duncan‘s OG post about the video to get the gist.
In summary, she says that she and her husband have always supported Charles, lining up opportunities for him and helping him with brand deals, but that he has disrespected them in return, and has not been gracious or thoughtful to anyone in the wider beauty industry. “How entitled do you have to be to think that you have it rough?” she says at one point. “You are a 19-year-old millionaire. You do not get to wake up and stress out about how unfair your job is. That is so ridiculous to me.” She also said that she cut ties with James because she is tired of making justifications for his behaviour, including recent, controversial comments he made about wanting to have sex with a straight waiter at a restaurant, and not caring about said waiter’s own orientation.
Charles quickly posted an apology video.
In it he apologises to Tati and her husband, and says this:
“A lot of the time when I’ve had to address things in the past, I’ve acted out of impulse and I’ve gone off and tried to pull receipts or facts or screenshots and play the victim and I’m not doing that today, I’m not. That is all I have to say, I’m sorry.”
However, given Charles’ history of probboness, it seemed these allegations were the last straw for loads of his fans. As of now, Charles has lost around 2 million followers on YouTube. Other YouTubers and celebs have also started dropping bombs about James Charles, fuelling the allegations. Celebs like Jeffree Star, who literally must be involved in every YouTuber drama, ever apparently.
Celebs have also been unfollowing the YouTuber, with Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Shawn Mendes among them.
Then the allegations about Charles being predatory grew, with singer Zara Larsson posting this Tweet before deleting it.
And then Jeffree clapping back at James’ brother with this:
Meanwhile, Tati Westbrook has gained over 1.5 million YouTube subscribers since the feud hit headlines over the weekend.
Oh, and there’s memes galore – obviously.
As YouTube makeup influencers feuded with each other, I couldn’t help but wonder: Had their relationship been built using a bad foundation? pic.twitter.com/HBQcKbwL32
— grant👨🏻🦱 (@urdadssidepiece) May 10, 2019
Me after spending 45 mins of my day, avoiding my own responsibilities to watch the James Charles and Tati drama. pic.twitter.com/IXaTIocOja
— Josh Kane (@Joshkaneee) May 10, 2019
me getting ready to watch a 43 minute video by tati westbrook, whom I have never heard of, exposing james charles, whomst I only know about from memes of him not being able to sing and wearing assless leather pants pic.twitter.com/jXMmd9sMXG
— marshall lo (@firmlyclimactic) May 11, 2019
Tati and Jeffree both exposing James Charles at the same time: pic.twitter.com/dkjL6chO4L
— r o b b i e (@robbiefarrelly) May 13, 2019
Obviously, there’s plenty of speculation around the whole thing – is “cancel culture” completely fucked or a great step forward for holding people accountable? Did Tati Westbrook just do this to boost her following, or is it just that we’re now realising she’s cool? Why did it take James Charles promoting a rival company for Tati to come out with these damning allegations? Is Jeffree Star the fucking worst? (Yes, always).
It’s a huge bloody mess but it’s a very spicy one. We’ll be updating you as it goes on, but I hope this guide has helped you with your office convos today, mates.