Inside the controversies and feuds of beauty influencer James Charles

Music-Entertainment
November 20, 2020

After attending Coachella with Charles, YouTuber Gage Gomez accused the makeup artist of “manipulating” him. Westbrook criticized the YouTuber for being influenced by “fame, power, and a fat bank account,” and called him a “bad role model” for creating “over-sexualized” content. 100M followers in one year & y’all expect her to know how to be a perfect role model? “But when you’re selling yourself specifically as a makeup artist and you’re editing your makeup to the point where it’s clearly not your skills in the final product, that’s incredibly disingenuous.”
Charles was called out by people on social media for his use of the phrase “the house” in YouTube video. “It was about Alicia Keys. on tiktok?  
Leading up to the release of his first-ever makeup product, Charles was accused by fans of creating fake eye-shadow swatches. After last year, I vowed to keep conversations private and create solutions, not drama.” 
“If you’d like to continue our conversation and find a solution, my DMs are still open!” Charles added. But shortly after sharing pictures of the clothing, YouTuber and podcaster Ethan Klein — of the H3H3 productions channel — suggested that Charles had copied the color palette used in hoodies from the Teddy Fresh apparel brand he runs with his wife Hila. After attending his first Met Gala, Charles took to Instagram to share a photo from the event. At the start of the new year, Charles posted a video of himself singing “My Type” by Saweetie on New Year’s Eve. After the Met Gala, Charles was criticized yet again for talking about social-media influencers as if they were a marginalized group. Gage Gomez posted a YouTube video on April 29, 2019, in which he claims he was manipulated by Charles from January up until Coachella. A few years ago, she announced that she no longer would wear makeup, so I was bothered because many celebrities come into the beauty space as a cash grab without any actual passion and then leave.”
“I deleted the tweet after a few mins because it’s childish to indirect tweet someone & I am not the gatekeeper of makeup,” he continued. She also made serious claims about Charles, alleging that he leveraged his fame to sexually manipulate boys. He quickly replies, “Ariana Grande.”
“I haven’t really talked about it because I really like Ariana, I guess I just had a really crappy experience with her,” Charles said in his video. Charles faced backlash for calling Ariana Grande the “rudest celebrity” he’s ever met in March 2018. Some were also upset by Charli saying she wishes she could reach 100 million followers instead of 95 million followers on TikTok in the coming weeks. On July 21, a birthday party for internet star Larri “Larray” Merritt was attended by dozens of influencers — despite record COVID-19 cases in California at the time. Many people might recognize the 21-year-old makeup artist from his previous feud with Tati Westbrook and Jeffree Star — dubbed “Dramageddon 2.0.” He’s also faced backlash for making inappropriate jokes, allegedly manipulating people, and describing influencers as a marginalized group, among other instances. According to the Twitter user, her eyelids were stained pink and broke out in hives after she applied the shade “Skip.”
“You should never, ever, ever try to promote a product that does this to another human being,” she yelled in her video. In a now-deleted tweet from August, Charles voiced his opinion that “people who do not wear makeup should not be coming out with makeup brands.” He was seemingly referencing Keys, who will be launching a “lifestyle beauty brand” with e.l.f. “Anyone should be able to secure their bag and it’s not up to me which brands people should or shouldn’t support. Charles later apologized on Twitter. Grande’s fans immediately defended the star, according to Billboard, and said she did the right thing by unfollowing Charles. According to Revelist, people on social media criticized Charles for seemingly describing influencers as a marginalized group, and felt that his caption was ignorant. In response to the backlash, Charles wrote on Twitter: “this charli situation is NOT sitting right with me… On April 12, 2019, Charles uploaded a YouTube video in which vlogger Jeff Witteck does his makeup. That is disgusting, it is not me, and the fact that Tati brought this up blows my mind because she knows the real story.”
He also directly addressed Star in the video, saying the beauty influencer’s tweets and private messages to him were “hurtful, defamatory, extremely excessive,” and “based on lies.”
Charles said that he stands by his previous apology to Westbrook, and thanked both her and Star for taking some responsibility for their feud. “please consider social distancing, mask wearing, & using your huge platforms to encourage responsibility during a worldwide pandemic.”
Charles later apologized by saying in a YouTube video that he wouldn’t share clips from the party to help set a better example. “People’s safety and keeping COVID-19 contained is FAR more important than celebrating a friend’s birthday and unsafe partying is not something I want to promote to my audience.”
Charles criticized Alicia Keys for creating a beauty brand, and later apologized on Twitter. “Why are you on your phone in the movie theater? According to Revelist, many Twitter users pointed out similarities between the two outfits and were upset with Charles for wearing a style that was similar to one he previously mocked. All three YouTubers seemingly came to an agreement by March 19, when Westbrook and Star shared separate statements about how they’d no longer discuss their feud. On March 11, 2019, Charles was featured in one of Tana Mongeau’s YouTube videos in which the two “brutally roast celebrity fashion.”
When discussing the gold-and-black mesh ensemble Zoë Kravitz wore to the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, both Charles and Mongeau say they don’t know who she is, and rate her outfit a zero out of 10. Read more:
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Inside the life of YouTuber Tati Westbrook, from her controversial friendships and feuds to her questionable vitamin brand While attending the 2019 Met Gala, Charles was accused by fans of copying a red-carpet look worn by Zoë Kravitz — which he previously mocked. Charles admitted to “pre-swatching” some of his eye-shadow shades on Twitter, and then conducted a live Instagram video in an attempt to prove that he created a high-quality product. “Zero being like, completely straight, and six being like, completely gay. how stupid would I have to be to confidently record a video of me singing the n word and still have it up the next morning.”
He participated in the controversial “mugshot” trend in April. Still, Charles shared screenshots showing that Tati and her husband did not respond when he tried to address their argument privately, and said one of the “most hurtful” things Westbrook did was publicly criticize his mother’s parenting. At the end of December 2018, a YouTube star named Lauren Godwin shared a video of her destroying a James Charles x Morphe eye-shadow palette to TikTok. Some influencers, like Gabriel Zamora and Nikita Dragun, came to the defense of Charles, who defended himself in a video titled “No More Lies” on May 18. “And she’s gonna buy one just to destroy for likes… Charles took to Twitter with a statement, in which he said Gomez “never” told him he was straight. Charles also asked people on Twitter to “please shut up about using your phone during a movie,” as he felt that there were “more important things to worry about like, idk, the world ending.”
 
One month later, Charles was widely criticized for creating an “It”-inspired makeup tutorial on YouTube. You didn’t reply. Charles responded to her tweet, saying, “Wait what?” He continued to tweet Netflix, saying he wanted to make an unbiased documentary “on the behind the scenes of the beauty industry and why the community is plummeting.” 
He continued to say that he felt “livid” and “defeated” because “everything that [he puts his] heart and love and a ton of work into is always stolen by someone.” He then sent two tweets to Stell. And Charli and I, despite not being the same age, had one thing in common, which is coming into the spotlight at a very, very young age.”
He continued: “This is something that Trisha has never experienced because the only reason she is in the spotlight is because she has said racist things, she has said the N-word, she’s done blackface, she offended the trans community, she offended the DID community, she said Hitler wasn’t that bad of a guy, voted for Trump, and has started a fight with about every single other creator on this platform.”
“You are in no position to be talking about me and my career so I highly recommend that you stop starting fights with people that are half your age, pack it up, and work on holding yourself and your best friends around you, because they and you are the problem,” Charles said. At the time, it was trendy for TikTok users to post videos of themselves with “smudged mascara and costume makeup techniques to artificially roughen their facial features – some have even added fake bruises, black eyes, and bloody noses,” to create “attractive, staged mugshots,” as Insider’s Kat Tenbarge previously reported. “I know we didn’t invent colorblocking but I’m having a hard time w the new james charles merch, it’s the same exact design as Hila’s,” Klein wrote in a tweet. “Combined with the fact that his audience is so huge, many people will assume he designed it and start accusing us of plagarism. According to Revelist, people on Reddit began to accuse Charles of “faking his skill level” in March, as many of his makeup looks are extremely refined and proportional. Conrad then confirmed in an Instagram comment that Charles was talking about her brand, and said she was the person who accidentally filled his package with sample bottles in place of real products. I truly believe the amount of people that are a flat-out zero, or flat-out six, is very, very small.”
When Charles says he would put himself on the scale at 5.5, Witteck replies, “So you’re not even full gay?”
Charles then says, “I mean, no. In late November, Charli and her family released a YouTube video in which they ate dinner together and talked with Charles, their close friend and fellow internet star. The two discuss dating and sexuality, among other topics, and at one point talk about the Kinsey Scale. “James saw this as an opportunity to manipulate me as a person who may or may not have been trying to figure things out about their sexuality, after the fact that I told him I was straight multiple times,” Gomez says in his video. In the video, he said: “I have never and would never and will never use my fame, money, or power to manipulate or get any sexual actions from a guy. He shared the tweet shortly after being named CoverGirl’s first CoverBoy.  
In September 2017, Charles found himself in the middle of a feud with cast members from the horror film “It.”

Seven months later on September 7, 2017, Charles wrote in a tweet that he was “excited” to see the film “It.” But, according to BuzzFeed, the makeup artist quickly changed his mind about the film, and called it “awful” and “predictable” in a series of now-deleted tweets. While swatching a black shade named “Spooky,” Charles is seen swiping the shadow across his arm, and appears to do so over another layer that he applied previously. Charles then replied in a tweet where he apologized to Godwin, saying “it wasn’t that deep,” and that she shouldn’t receive hate. Twitter users were quick to criticize the then 17-year-old, and called his message “stereotypical and degrading.”
According to Seventeen, Charles also began to block users who called him out, and shared a tweet in which he seemingly told himself to “block and move on james block and move on.”
The makeup mogul later said on Twitter that he was “extremely sorry” for his tweet, and was “aware” that his message was “extremely offensive and degrading.” He also referred to the continent of Africa as a country. I can’t wait to support and try out the products and I know the brand will be worth a billion in a few years.”
He faced a similar feud with Lauren Conrad after she accidentally sent him empty products from her namesake makeup line. Fans of the movie weren’t the only ones to disagree with his tweets. “So the Kinsey Scale is from like, zero to six,” Charles says to Witteck in his video. YouTube’s beauty community saw tons of drama in August 2018, most notably between vloggers Jeffree Star, Manny MUA, Gabriel Zamora, Laura Lee, and Nikita Dragun. 
Shortly after their feud subsided, Marlena Stell, the founder of the beauty brand Makeup Geek, took to Twitter on September 27, 2018. Charles did not publicly respond further, and he later released his color-blocked clothing line. As Insider’s Rebecca Harrington reported at the time, some people thought it sounded like Charles sang the N-word to the lyrics: “Rich n—-, eight-figure, that’s my type / That’s my type, n—- that’s my type.”
When asked about the clip on Twitter, Charles replied: “no? There’s also been like, trans guys in the past too that I was really, really into for a moment in time.”
According to Nylon, the response from Charles upset many fans, who felt his answer was offensive, and discredited transgender men as “actual” men. When he gets to the letter “T,” Charles says it stands for a phrase called “the house.” Charles then says he learned the phrase from YouTuber Rich Lux, and defines “the house” as the “best way to put emphasis on anything.”
According to BuzzFeed, people on Twitter were quick to correct Charles, informing him that the phrase was meant to be “the house down,” rather than “the house,” and that it actually stems from drag culture, coming from the late drag performer Erica Andrews who created the phrase “the haus down boots.”
Charles was widely criticized for saying he’s not “full gay” because he’s been attracted to women and transgender men. In a now-deleted tweet, she announced that she was working on a Netflix documentary about the beauty industry. Rule 1.” Wolfhard said on Twitter. Klein continued to speak about the similarities on Twitter, share text messages sent to him by Charles, and compare the situation to Charles accusing makeup brand Wet n Wild of copying his namesake eye-shadow palette. Many felt the video was hypocritical, and questioned Charles about it on Twitter. 
In March 2019, Charles was accused by Reddit users of editing his Instagram photos. Throughout his video, Gomez claims that Charles “pressured” him to hang out, and tried to “manipulate” him. I became friends with the D’Amelio family as a whole very, very early on because this was all very, very new to them and I wanted to be a friend and a mentor in any way that I possibly could. Summary List Placement

James Charles is widely known as one of the biggest beauty creators online. Charles then apologized in an Instagram story after her comment, and the two seemingly reconciled a few days later. Charles defended TikTok star Charlie D’Amelio after she was widely criticized online — leading to a minor feud with internet celebrity Trisha Paytas. There have been girls in the past that I’ve thought have been really, really beautiful. On February 16, 2017, James Charles posted a now-deleted tweet in which he joked about contracting the Ebola virus while visiting South Africa. this ain’t it sis.”
Read more: People are destroying their James Charles makeup following his feud with fellow beauty YouTuber Tati Westbrook
Godwin followed up with a YouTube video, in which she said she had no harsh feelings towards Charles, and even bought an extra palette to use. “Photoshop absolutely can be art,” Reddit user jimmyjrdanceparty wrote. On October 8 2017, Charles uploaded a makeup tutorial titled “It Pennywise Glam Halloween Makeup Tutorial.” He opened the video saying, “I know everybody’s gonna say that this is the most hypocritical, ironic video of 2017 so far, and you’re probably right.”
“It would be way too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Charles continued. “There are people who can’t afford the palette, can’t get it because it’s sold out, or who have been scammed by knock offs,” Charles replied in a now-deleted tweet, according to We the Unicorns. As Insider previously reported, guests included James Charles, Tana Mongeau, Nikita Dragun, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Emma Chamberlain, and more. 
Charles and other attendees were not seen wearing masks or social distancing throughout the party, leading YouTuber Tyler Oakley to publicly call them “bad influences” on Twitter. “Even though I personally did not enjoy the movie, Pennywise was the best.”
The following day, “It” actor Wyatt Oleff took to Twitter with a message that was seemingly about Charles, according to BuzzFeed. People have since taken issue with various clips from the video, in which Charli and her sister Dixie complain about gourmet food made for them by a private chef. The duo also reunited for a video with YouTuber NikkieTutorials in November. He also uses the video to teach his followers the basics of “Sister Speech,” or the slang language he frequently uses. “If you have hives, consult your dermatologist, not me for likes on Twitter.”
Kodeerants did not accept his response, writing on Twitter: “Your lack of sympathy for someone who was harmed by a product with your name on it is truly shocking.”
Some called the makeup artist a hypocrite after he destroyed a James Charles x Morphe palette — something he criticized another YouTuber for doing. According to Charles, the star followed him on Twitter, and exchanged direct messages with him following one of her concerts. On May 10, 2019, Westbrook uploaded a 43-minute long video called “Bye Sister” to her YouTube channel. She said in the video that she’d be ending her longtime friendship with Charles because she was “completely blindsided” when he endorsed Sugar Bear Hair — a direct competitor of her Halo Beauty vitamin brand. A few days later, however, Charles appeared in a Jeffree Star YouTube video where the two makeup moguls are seen destroying makeup, including their own palettes. Charles also claimed that Gomez was looking for “an opportunity” to spend time with influencers. Charles also says Kravitz looks like “she didn’t finish getting dressed.” 
But while attending the 2019 Met Gala in May, Charles arrived wearing a similar outfit, which included a mesh top and black pants. After Charles shared his take on the trend, he wrote in a now-deleted tweet: “only I could lazily smudge on some purple eyeshadow and fake blood to recreate a dumb tik tok trend and have it twisted into an actual scandal lol.”
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Charles attended a party alongside dozens of other influencers. death threats because she’s a picky eater & made a joke about a milestone? Charles announced in September that he’d be selling pastel color-blocked variations of his Sisters apparel. “I don’t need Charli and Charli does not need me. Though Charles didn’t name Conrad in the video, he did hold up easily-identifiable products from her brand. turn up the volume & listen, I skip over it. On March 22, 2019, Charles uploaded a YouTube video in which he is seen applying his makeup in alphabetical order. Cosmetics in 2021, according to a press release from the brand. Charles defended himself in a tweet, saying “most pinks, purples, & reds all stain certain skin types.”
“You accusing me of lying to fans & not caring about people is a ridiculous cry for attention,” Charles continued. “It wasn’t my place to gatekeep this industry. Charles first responded by saying he was “kinda honored” to be “dragged by a legendary child actor,” and then shared a two-minute-long video in which he apologized to Wolfhard and fans. Back in August, Charles filmed himself ranting about receiving a press package full of empty beauty products from someone who he said had “no business” creating a makeup line. But many took issue with the trend as they felt it glorified abuse and harmed domestic violence survivors. Charles denied the unsubstantiated claims and Westbrook went on to delete the video, though it’s since been reposted by fans. 
Charles’ reputation ultimately took a hit as a result of the feud. He was later accused of stealing clothing designs from internet stars Ethan and Hila Klein. He’s also faced a plethora of scandals and feuds throughout his internet career. “‘I can’t believe we’re going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola.’ ‘James we’re fine we could’ve gotten it at chipotle last year’….” Charles said on Twitter, according to The Cut. 30+ year olds dragging someone half their age? In the caption of his photo, he thanked YouTube and Alexander Wang for inviting him to the ball. Stell first responded to Charles by saying she was approached by Netflix, and that “it would be great” to hear from an influencer for her documentary. James Charles announced his first-ever beauty product, the $39 James Charles x Morphe eye-shadow palette, in a YouTube video on November 2, 2018. Fans noticed the second layer, and began questioning Charles on Twitter. Twitter user @kodeerants uploaded a video on November 19, 2018, in which she accuses Charles of failing to advertise that some shades in his palette are not meant to be used on the eyes. Arguably his biggest scandal to date occurred in May 2017, when YouTuber Tati Westbrook publicly ended their friendship in a YouTube video. Six months later, Charles found himself in another feud, this time with makeup mogul Marlena Stell. The following day, he shared a lengthy apology on Twitter, and said he deleted the tweet because he feels it’s “childish” to indirectly tweet someone, and that he is “not the gatekeeper of makeup.”
“Yesterday I posted a subtweet about how I thought some celebrities shouldn’t launch makeup lines,” Charles wrote. #JamesCharlesIsOverParty began trending on Twitter in January when some people thought he sang the N-word in a video posted to his Instagram story. “hi @jamescharles @NikitaDragun @tanamongeau @larrayxo @charlidamelio @dixiedamelio & any others who have been partying in large groups,” he wrote. He lost 3 million YouTube subscribers at the time, and some people even destroyed his merchandise. 
Star later involved himself in the falling out by calling Charles “a danger to society.”

Hours after Westbrook released “Bye Sister,” Charles apologized in a video of his own called “Tati.” However, Star then ignited the feud once again by saying in a tweet that Charles was banned from his home and “is a danger to society.” 
Star never produced substantive evidence to back up his claims, and later said during an appearance on the “Mom’s Basement” podcast that he didn’t know if a recording he claimed to have from an alleged victim of Charles’ was real. But once fans called out Grande for following Charles in the midst of his “Ebola scandal,” the popstar unfollowed him so as to “not disappoint” her fans. feels familiar.”
When fellow internet star Trisha Paytas joined in on the criticism, and claimed Charles’ relationship with Charli is “predatory,” Charles replied in a now-deleted video: “I didn’t want to respond to this because I didn’t want to give Trisha the attention that she’s clearly craving, however, I have now been accused of being a child groomer and this is not an accusation that I’m going to take lightly.”
“To insinuate that the relationship between Charli and I is anything other than just a friendship is absolutely disgusting,” he said. From his first controversy in 2017 to his most recent feud, here’s a look back at the beauty mogul’s controversial past.FOLLOW US: Insider is on Facebook
James Charles faced his first major backlash after joking about Ebola in February 2017. “Even though I have been wearing a mask in public and have tested negative multiple times, going to a party during a pandemic was a selfish and stupid decision,” he said. Charles, however, did not accept her response, and the feud continued for hours, according to Dazed Digital. What do you think?”
In response, Charles wrote on Twitter: “When you DM’d me yesterday, I sent you the original photo that inspired my collection, explained I’ve never seen your brand, but also asked what you wanted me to do… While the makeup artist has frequently admitted to using the photo-editing app Facetune on his photos, people on Reddit claimed that Charles was taking his editing too far. “When you decide to exploit a movie that you hate for money & attention cause why not,” Oleff wrote on Twitter. I’m now glad that I DID delete it because after reading further, I learned that the beauty line is SKIN CARE.”
Charles added that he felt he made a mistake, and that he “should’ve read more before tweeting.”
“Regardless of my intention with my tweet, it ended up being a microaggression against someone I respect, so to Alicia Keys I owe a direct apology — I’m sorry,” he said.  
That same month, some fans said that pink shadows from the James Charles palette stained their eyelids and gave them hives. On March 30, 2018, Charles uploaded a YouTube video in which vloggers Shane Dawson and Ryland Adams apply his makeup. “Being invited to such an important event like the ball is such an honor and a step forward in the right direction for influencer representation in the media and I am so excited to be a catalyst,” Charles wrote on Instagram. Finn Wolfhard, an actor who starred in “It,” also sent Charles a message over Twitter. Approximately 11 minutes into the video, Dawson asks Charles to name the rudest celebrity he’s ever met.

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