Gather round, children, it’s teatime. Okay, so, either you’ve been following every single development in YouTube stars James Charles and Tati Westbrook’s crazy drama or you’re just now catching up and trying to understand what the hell is going on. Either way, a lot has gone down this past year and we could all use a review.
Before I get into the weeds, I’d like to point out that while YouTube drama is pretty common these days (there are even hundreds of “drama channels” dedicated to it), few feuds make it as far into the mainstream as this one has. What started as a tiff over vitamins has turned into something way bigger—and way more serious, especially now that Tati posted another 40 minute video and lawyers are involved. Here goes:
This is James Charles:
At just 21 years old, James Charles
ha s had the biggest beauty channel on YouTube. It all started back in September 2016, when his senior yearbook photos went viral on Twitter:
So I retook my senior photos & brought my ring light with me so my highlight would be poppin. I love being extra 💀 pic.twitter.com/7Qu1yu8U2P
Before his viral fame, a couple of outlets highlighted James as a member of the “beauty boys” community, but it was really his yearbook photo that launched him into the public eye. He caught the attention of major makeup companies and soon became CoverGirl’s first-ever CoverBoy. He literally made history.
After that, his Instagram and YouTube channel blew up, and he amassed more than 16 million subscribers in the span of three years. His makeup videos rack up millions of views, and he’s collaborated with huge celebs, including Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Iggy Azalea. He’s become more than “just” a YouTube star—he’s created his own eyeshadow palette, designed an apparel line, and even brought his makeup tutorials on tour. Oh, and he attended the 2019 Met Gala. NBD.
This is Tati Westbrook:
Tati Westbrook is among the OG beauty bloggers. She started posting videos in 2010 and over the years, she became one of the most respected makeup channels on YouTube. Now at the age of 38, she’s taken on the role of a mother figure to many of her fans (and fellow YouTube personalities).
Tati and James first met a few years ago when James was just starting out in the industry in Los Angeles. Because James’s parents lived across the country in New York, Tati and her husband, James Westbrook, quickly took on parental roles, providing him with—as James himself has said—love, support, advice, opportunities, a place to stay, and a shoulder to cry on.
Tati essentially mentored James, and she consistently supported his projects, both on her own YouTube channel and IRL. But apparently, James didn’t exactly return the favor—and that’s where this drama all began.
April 22, 2019
James posts an Instagram Story promoting SugarBearHair. SugarBearHair, which sells vitamins and supplements, is a direct competitor of Tati’s supplement company, Halo Beauty.
Later that day, Tati posts a lengthy, teary-eyed Instagram Story wherein she talks about feeling “used” and “betrayed.” She doesn’t mention James by name, but fans quickly figure out who she’s talking about.
Once James finds out that he hurt Tati’s feelings, he posts an apology on his Instagram Story.
May 4, 2019
A few weeks pass, and Tati stays pretty silent on the matter…until fellow beauty blogger (and friend of James) Gabriel Zamora posts a YouTube video titled “Makeup and Opinions.” In the video, he challenges Tati to publicly clarify the situation. And boy, does she deliver.
May 10, 2019
Tati uploads a 43-minute-long YouTube video titled “BYE SISTER…” (“sister” is a word commonly used by James and his fans). In the video, she goes into detail about how she provided for James, explains why she feels so betrayed by the SugarBearHair situation, and even expresses suspicion that his explanation for posting the ad—that he was being mobbed at Coachella and SugarBearHair provided security for him in exchange for the post—is total BS.
But she also addresses another topic: James’s alleged pattern of pursuing straight men. James has been called out for his aggressive flirting in the past, and he himself has admitted that he likes “straight” guys. But apparently, behind the scenes, a lot of people, including Tati, thought his actions toward these men (who identify as both straight and bi-curious) were predatory, and Tati claims she warned him about his behavior. Here’s what she says in the video:
Later that day, James posts a response to Tati. In an eight-minute-long video, James apologizes to both Tati and her husband for everything he put them through.
Although James restates that the Coachella story is true, he says he isn’t going to put up a fight or show “receipts” to prove it.
“At this point, the truth really does not matter, it’s the feelings that do,” he says. “No matter what happened, I hurt two very, very important people. They’ve been really, really loyal to me, and I betrayed that. It sucks, and I wish that more than anything I could take it back.”
James also addresses the “boy situation” and expresses his regret over publicizing his love life.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of very unique and strange situations that have left people confused or upset, and I’ve learned the hard way about ways that I can interact with boys that I’m interested in and also ones that I should or shouldn’t be talking to,” he said. Finally, James confirms Tati’s claim that she warned him about his behavior and admits that “she was right.”
May 11, 2019
The plot thickens. Singer Zara Larsson posts a clip from Tati’s video in a now-deleted tweet, and writes, “I’m cackling ’cause he hit up my boyfriend in the DMs several times knowing damn well he’s straight.” Yikes.
May 12, 2019
Jeffree Star, a former friend of James, jumps into the drama with a series of tweets. After James’s younger brother, Ian, tweeted, “Why does everyone act so tough over the internet?” Jeffree quoted the tweet with some questions of his own.
deleted tweet by Jeffree Star to James Charles’ brother Ian Jeffrey. pic.twitter.com/oys22QODGX
In addition to calling James a “predator,” Jeffree also says James is “a danger to society,” revealing that his boyfriend, Nathan, had banned James from their house.
Tati also hops on Twitter that night to say there would be no new video on her channel the next day because her heart was “still too heavy.”
There won’t be a video tomorrow. My heart is still too heavy. I feel like I need to remind you that we can hold truth & inspire change without grabbing onto hate. Honor your blessings, don’t abuse them. Celebrating pain will only bring it to your door. love you guys, see you soon
“I feel like I need to remind you that we can hold truth & inspire change without grabbing on to hate,” she wrote. “Honor your blessings, don’t abuse them. Celebrating pain will only bring it to your door. Love you guys, see you soon.”
May 13, 2019
Nikita Dragun, another beauty blogger, posts screenshots of her texts with James about the SugarBearHair-at-Coachella situation. The iMessage exchange shows James asking Nikita to help get him a Coachella artist pass from SugarBearHair because he’s “getting attacked” in the VIP section.
heard a situation needed some clarification 👀 my friend was in an emergency and texted me in the moment… unfortunately since @dragunbeauty used all of our marketing budget on the 𝓯𝓪𝓷𝓽𝓪𝓼𝔂, i connected him with sugar bear. nothing shady. pic.twitter.com/fNNtMReApm
Nikita posted the screenshots in an attempt to corroborate James’s story, but fans were skeptical. Some found the time stamps questionable because the entire conversation took place within two minutes. Others speculated that the conversation was preplanned so that James could have an excuse for partnering with SugarBearHair (which, according to Tati, he had previously talked major sh*t about). So even though Nikita was trying to bolster James’s story, the texts actually disprove his claim that SugarBearHair reached out to him. The texts make it look like he made contact first.
May 14, 2019
Nikita addresses the speculation about the time stamps. She says there are screen recordings of the texts and the only thing she edits is her “waist on FaceTune.”
u really think i have the time to fake texts? the only thing i edit is my waist on facetune sis. they have the screen recording of the messages 👀💯🐉🔥
May 15, 2019
James is seen in public for the first time since he posted his apology video. Paparazzi caught him walking through the Brisbane airport and asked him point-blank if he sexually harasses straight men. James ignored the pap and kept walking with his team around him.
James Charles is asked about his scandal while arriving at the Brisbane airport. pic.twitter.com/wqu3NMDD8r
May 16, 2019
Late in the evening, Tati posts another video, this time entitled “Why I Did It.” In the video, she explains that she had decided to post the 43-minute “BYE SISTER” video on May 10 because she wanted to “reach someone who I found completely unreachable.” “It was a last-ditch effort for me to really be loud and vocal and to wake up someone that I really love,” she explains, teary-eyed. You can watch it all for yourself below:
May 18, 2019
James uploads a follow-up to his original apology titled “No More Lies.” In the 42-minute video, James addresses every claim Tati and Jeffree Star made about him and pulls out so many receipts that even Whitney Houston would be shook.
Using a plethora of text screenshots, James shows that he was telling the truth about the SugarBearHair situation and did not try to trick a straight man [a waiter from Seattle named Sam] into thinking he was gay, as Tati claimed. In fact, Tati even encouraged James to “hook up” with Sam, who told James he was bisexual. James also shares some pretty nasty texts from Jeffree, in which he accused James of trying to trap Sam in a hotel room; force Jeffree’s boyfriend’s brother, Zach, into sending him photos; and molest Grayson Dolan, James’s friend. In effect, James shuts down every single accusation.
In direct response to James’s video, Jeffree Star goes on a Snapchat rant and threatens to show his receipts.
Tati also addresses James’s video with a tweet.
I’ve left town on a digital break to heal & pray for healing on all sides. My family made me aware of what was just posted & I’m disappointed to see it littered with so many lies & half truths. I stand by my videos – do not twist my words into what they are not, hear the message.
May 19, 2019
The moment we’ve all been waiting for…Jeffree uploads his own video. But instead of exposing James with the “receipts” he claimed to have the day before, he does a total 180. Jeffree says he doesn’t want to revert to his old self, and he admits that he regrets ever sending those “brutal tweets” and “vicious text messages.”
“I am not going to fuel this fire bigger so that everyone can get more entertainment, because behind the scenes, this isn’t funny,” he says. “This is our real lives, and I inserted myself into something publicly that I shouldn’t have.”
That same day, Tati tweets a message to her fans and claims this will be the last time she speaks about the situation publicly.
“I still have so many things I’d like to clear up; however, the continued call for ‘receipts’ is nothing more than a call for never-ending bloodshed,” she writes. “As such, I’m setting aside my overwhelming need to be understood and will continue my conversations with everyone in private.”
After Jeffree and Tati put out their responses, James thanks them with a tweet and agrees to put an end to the fighting.
Thank you @jeffreestar & @glamlifeguru for your sentiments. I am on board to move on, will not speak about this further, but do hope to speak in the future when we’re all ready. This week was awful for all of us and I ask that the community focuses on positivity moving forward ❤️
May 26, 2019
James cancels his Sisters Live tour, and the YouTuber drama with Tati is to blame. In a video posted to his Instagram Story, James explains that the drama surrounding the feud put him in a “really bad place,” leaving him unable to be the best version of himself for his fans.
James said, “A lot has gone on in the past few weeks, which has led many people, including myself, wondering what was going to happen to the tour. And after the last week of meetings and phone calls and trying to figure it all out…we have officially come to the very, very tough decision that I am canceling the Sisters Tour….Now, I know this sucks and people are going to be upset and sad about it, and trust me, I am not really happy about this either.”
James adds that canceling the tour is a “personal decision” and that the drama has seriously affected his well-being. “I’m not better, and I’m not back either, but I am trying to move on with my life. I’m still not doing well…I feel like I can’t deliver the best version of James right now, and that sucks.”
June 18, 2019
James returns to YouTube and posts his very first video since the feud went down. While he doesn’t talk at all about Tati, he does discuss his absence and admits that it feels weird for him to be gone for so long. “I’ve been posting little stories here and there to kind of keep you guys posted, but it is so weird of me to literally not be, like, posting everything I’m doing at all times of the day,” he said, adding that he’s “so ready to come back and work so hard” and that he’s been “growing and thinking” while he was away.
September 11, 2019
Trigger warning: This section contains mentions of self-harm.
James decides he isn’t done discussing the feud and makes a video alongside Nikita Dragun and Joey Graffeca about how the feud has had a major effect on his mental health. In the video, James reveals that he really had to rely on his friends to get through all the backlash in the aftermath of the feud and that it often left him considering self-harm.
Here’s exactly what James said:
James also adds that he didn’t want to talk publicly about his mental health for fear of looking like was begging for sympathy:
January 3, 2020
Just when everyone thought the feud was over, James starts to stir things up again. When Coachella tweets its festival lineup for 2o20, James gets excited—and shady.
James responds to Coachella and literally writes, “THIS IS ABOUT TO BE THE BEST COACHELLA YET!!!! no boys or vitamins!!!!!!!! just good music, outfits, photos & memories let’s GOOOO.” Twitter fans of his pick up the reference and, naturally, go nuts.
THIS IS ABOUT TO BE THE BEST COACHELLA YET!!!! 🤯 no boys or vitamins!!!!!!!! just good music, outfits, photos & memories let’s GOOOO https://t.co/Au7pJCOt1X
June 30, 2020
Prepare for a bombshell YouTuber feud update in the form of a 40 minute tea-filled video, courtesy of Tati herself. After a hiatus away from her channel, Tati returned with some serious gossip about her very public fight with James, essentially claiming that YouTubers Shane Dawson (who’s currently under fire for sexualizing 11-year-old Willow Smith) and Jeffree Star orchestrated the whole thing.
In her video, Tati said Jeffree and Shane were “bitterly jealous of James’ success,” so they gaslit her into take him down.
“Back in 2019, Jeffree started talking a lot more crap about James Charles than usual. It seemed that doing so had become his biggest obsession. It started with him telling me right before filming our collab together for James Charles’ channel that James Charles actually didn’t want me there, that he had wanted NikkieTutorials instead, but [Jeffree] said he’d had my back,” Tati said.
“Things further escalated at my birthday. Every time James Charles’ back was turned, Jeffree would tell me that James Charles was out of control. He even texted and called me the following morning to apologize for James Charles’ behavior and how embarrassed he was for me,” she added. “As the weeks went by, every time I saw or spoke with Jeffree, it seemed to me that James was all he wanted to talk about. He said that James Charles was a monster with many victims.”
Tati said after that, Jeffree connected her to Shane, who then came to her house and claimed “horrific” allegations against James. And all of this led Tati to make her now-infamous “BYE SISTER” video.
“I did not make my video because of vitamins. I made it as a result of all of the poisonous lies that were fed to me by Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star.”
In her new video, Tati apologized to James, who has since tweeted this to his followers:
love u guys 💞
Jeffree has yet to say anything publicly, but Shane flipped out in an Instagram Live and in a since-deleted tweet after watching Tati’s vid.
Shane Dawson freaking over Tati’s new video on IG Live pic.twitter.com/k1fC5KTzpT
Soooooo TL;DR the feud between Tati and James seems to be over and done with! But the feud between Jeffree, Shane, James, and Tati? Something tells me we should get ready for it to heat up…
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