Breaking Down the Controversy Surrounding James Charles
WRITTEN BY: CECILIE BREE WILKINS
If you’re a fan of the Youtube beauty community then you know it isn’t all reviews and tutorials; drama has long been one of the most alluring qualities of this community. However, the viral controversy surrounding James Charles, ignited by a tell all video from fellow influencer Tati Westbrook, isn’t as petty as it seems.
On May 10, 2019 Westbrook, a beauty Youtuber and CEO of the hair, skin and nail vitamin brand, Halo Beauty, posted a 43 minute video on her Youtube channel. Westbrook addressed her falling out with fellow Youtuber, friend, and mentee James Charles after his decision to endorse a competitive vitamin brand, Sugar Bear Hair.
Charles reached out to Westbrook when he was 17 years old, and she soon became his mentor. Westbrook explained that after years of support from her and her husband, James Westbrook, regarding Charles’ business dealings, which she stated earned Charles millions, she felt it was time to sever the friendship, as well as the business relationship.
The shocking allegation, which resulted in this controversy going viral, was Westbrook’s claim that Charles has a pattern of behavior in which he attempts to pursue straight men, romantically and sexually.
“It’s really disgusting to manipulate someone’s sexuality, especially when they are still emerging into adulthood and don’t quite have everything figured out. 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, even if they’re straight,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook recalled her birthday dinner which Charles attended. “You were talking in detail about things you wanted to do to the waiter, and when I said, ‘James, he’s straight,’ your response was, ‘doesn’t matter. I’m a celebrity,’” Westbrook said.
This allegation of predatory behavior came less than a week after controversy between Charles and a man named Gage Gomez surfaced.
Charles responded to fans questioning his relationship with Gomez in a Tweet that read, “unfortunately I am still very single. This boy played me for months on end and is a disgusting con artist. I’m thankful I had my friends with me to protect me.”
Gomez responded in a Youtube video on his channel, Im_gage, alleging Charles pressured him into pursuing a romantic relationship, despite Gomez telling Charles that he was still exploring his sexuality, and was unsure of whether or not he was attracted to men.
“James then 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,” Gomez said.
The fallout from these allegations has been damaging to Charles’ brand, causing him to lose over a million subscribers, as of today, from his Youtube channe. Several celebrities, such as Kylie Jenner, Katy Perry and Shawn Mendes have also unfollowed Charles on Twitter.
This controversy has also ignited a debate online about consent, as well as the utilization of power and influence to manipulate others.
In a Tweet, @rosepetalscalum said, “james charles using his fame, power, money to engage in any sort of inappropriate relationship with straight men is no different than when old rich men do it to younger women. there are no “but”s or “if”s in this situation.”
Photo Source: Screenshots from both Tati Westbrook and James Charles’ Youtube videos