Arts & Culture

Westbrook VS Charles: The social media feud of the year

When the friendship and business collaboration of two beauty YouTubers broke up, everyone had to take a side.

Tati Westbrook and James Charles went best friends to mortal enemies, creating the biggest YouTube feud of 2019 in the process.

A few years ago, James Charles was just a boy with a dream to do makeup. Today, with over 15 million subscribers and a net worth of 12 million US dollars, James Charles is one of the biggest social media influencers in the world.

When James Charles came to Los Angeles from Bethlehem New York as an aspiring young YouTuber, he had no family or friends waiting for him. His YouTube Channel started out very small, powered only by his quirky, fun and loving personality. Still, that might not have been enough to bring him truly into the big time. It wasn’t until another social media influencer, Tati Westbrook, saw one of his makeup videos and liked what she saw, that Charles got his break. Westbrook contacted Charles on Instagram with the intention of helping him grow his platform.

After multiple messages between them, Charles and Westbrook finally met and immediately hit it off. Their friendship and YouTube collaborations — and Charles’s follower count — kept growing throughout the past year and Westbrook even flew Charles to Los Angeles for her wedding. As a small wedding gift, Charles did Westbrook’s makeup. Their relationship grew so strong that Charles referred to Westbrook and her husband as mom and dad.

Then it all blew up — in the negative sense this time.

At the 2019 Coachella Music Festival, Charles was photographed with the product, Sugar Bear Hair, a major sponsor at Coachella. Sugar Bear just happens to be the main competitor of one of Westbrook’s vitamin company, Halo Beauty Vitamins. Westbrook considered this a betrayal. A few days after the incident occurred, she uploaded a video titled “James” to her YouTube channel unloading a torrent of complaints about him. She described rude behavior she experienced from him, disrespect he showed to her and her family, and even accusing him of sexually aggressive behavior towards straight men.

The now-deleted video starts off with pictures of the two of them throughout the years, including James doing Tati’s makeup on her wedding day. She goes on  to say how their relationship from this point on will never be the same, how in the future she can’t foresee them ever being friends again. Her fans immediately started to unsubscribe from Charles’s YouTube channel.

Charles responded with an 8-minute apology video called “Tati”, which has also been deleted. About a week later, James released a more assertive, 41-minute video called “No more lies” explaining his side of the story. He sasy that the only reason why he was photographed with the Sugar Bear Hair product was that the passes James originally bought for Coachella put him in serious danger. The passes were for an area that lacked security and where he was mobbed. Sugar Bear Hair then contacted Charles and offered him VIP passes with high security, in exchange for his posting a photo on his Instagram, holding one of their products. Charles explains in his video that he does not think it should’ve been a big deal and claims that Westbrok lied about him not reaching out to her and asking if that was okay. Charles also showed text messages between the two showing that James did in fact tell Tati that he was going to be photographed using the Sugar Bear Hair Care product. After this video, his follower count started to bounce back again.

The drama between the two of them caused a huge debate in the YouTube community. Much like the Pewdiepie vs. T-Series drama, people tracked their respective subscriber counts in real time through live streams. Charles had lost 3 million of his 15 million subscribers during the feud, while Westbrook went from 3 million subscribers to 10 million. It’s safe to say that she benefited more from the drama, although Charles still has more overall.

James Charles has gained back the majority of his subscribers and Tati has also gained more. Since the whole incident, they’ve both gone back to posting videos not involving the feud and have not mentioned it.

1 comment on “Westbrook VS Charles: The social media feud of the year

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