Why James Charles Is Under Fire

By Peter Zemeske

YouTube makeup guru and personality James Charles has lost approximately three million subscribers on the video streaming platform over the past week. There are a few reasons the 19 year old has become the latest face of “cancel culture” — a term created to describe a phenomenon in which a person, usually a celebrity, is boycotted due to unsavory speech or action.

Charles amassed 16 million subscribers over the course of three years posting makeup tutorials and other beauty related content. His subscriber count rests at 13.4 million as of May 17.

The dip in subscriber count initially began as a result of fellow beauty YouTuber Tati Westbrook’s expressed displeasure in Charles’ sponsored promotion of a rival multivitamin brand while she has her own brand of similar products. Westbrook began a video posted May 10 with a compilation of her promoting Charles’ products and claimed she felt betrayed by his promotion of a rival brand.

The more incriminating reason for Charles’ loss of subscribers is Westbrook’s claim that Charles has a history of using his fame to coax men, both gay and straight, into sexual relations with them.

“You tried to trick a straight man into thinking he’s gay, yet again,” Westbrook said in a May 10 YouTube video. “You are using your fame, your power, your money to play with people’s emotions. You’re threatening to ruin them, you’re threatening to embarrass them and you’re doing that to have them behave sexually in your favor.”

YouTube vlogger Jeffree Star backed Westbrook’s claim stating Charles is a “predator” and a “danger to society,” in two separate since-deleted tweets both posted May 12.