The drama between James Charles and Tati Westbrook has been the biggest feud in 2019 so far, and possibly one of the biggest in recent memory.
For those of you who are a little out of the loop, it all started when beauty Youtuber Tati Westbrook took issue with Charles promoting a rival vitamin brand on his Instagram story in exchange for artist passes at Coachella. As a result, she posted a 43-minute video exposing Charles’ past behaviour and officially ending their friendship.
Westbrook’s video opened up the floodgates and, despite an eight-minute apology video, Charles began to lose followers at an astonishing rate. To date, he has lost more than three million subscribers, 1.2 million of which he lost in one day.
However, the drama itself, which has branched off in multiple directions as more allegations and stories emerge, has sparked a debate about when Charles should’ve been cancelled and why Westbrook has apparently let his behaviour slide until now.
Charles has found himself at the centre of a number of controversies over the years. He was accused of racism back in 2017 when he tweeted: “‘I can’t believe we’re going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola?'” After deleting the tweet, Charles immediately apologised, saying he “clearly [knew] very little” about the people and culture.
Westbrook referenced the controversy in her video, saying:
[My husband and I] helped him get into Style Haul back when basically no one wanted to work with him because of his Ebola scandal and everybody was really afraid that he was very toxic. But once again, we had his back.
As recently as last month, Charles had to apologise once more. This time he was accused of invalidating the identity of trans men when he said he wasn’t “full gay” because he had found women and trans men attractive in the past. People quickly pointed out that trans men are still men and therefore Charles’ words were insensitive.
And then in Westbrook’s video, she accused him of “tricking” straight men into thinking they were gay and using their sexuality to manipulate them:
Oh my god, you tried to trick a straight man into thinking he’s gay, yet again, and somehow, you’re the victim. 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 favour even if they’re straight.
Before all the drama kicked off properly, Charles defended himself against predatory accusations that arose after he spent time with a guy at Coachella. In a lengthy notes app statement, he said: “I would never, have never, and WILL NEVER pressure a guy to do anything.”
Although, until now, most of the attention has been on Charles and his behaviour, some people have started to look to Westbrook, questioning why she not only chose to ignore his other controversial scandals but continued to support him in spite of them.
People struggled to understand why Westbrook had remained supportive of him but had suddenly found an issue with his behaviour after he promoted her main competitor.
The whole thing sparked a debate as people came to Westbrooks’ defence, claiming she didn’t support his actions but instead had hoped he would grow from them. Others stuck to their guns, calling the whole situation “suspicious”.
Those in defence of Westbrook suggested she was afraid to speak out until now, considering at the time Charles’ following was three times the size of her own.
Possibly predicting a backlash about the reasoning behind posting the damning video, Westbrook revealed she’d had multiple discussions in private with Charles about his behaviour and would’ve preferred to have kept the whole thing behind closed doors.
On her decision to post the video instead of resolving the matter away from the public eye, Westbrook said: “I didn’t feel safe talking about any of this privately because I know that it’d get twisted and used against me somehow, so I had to do it this way.”
BuzzFeed has reached out to reps of Westbrook and Charles for comment.