James Charles, From ‘CoverBoy’ to Canceled

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When James Charles, 19, became the first male face of CoverGirl, following in the steps of household names like Tyra Banks, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, he was just a high school senior. In his hometown, Bethlehem, N.Y., he would charge friends between $5 and $10 to do their makeup for special occasions and had amassed a few hundred thousand Instagram followers by posting his eye-catching D.I.Y. beauty looks.

In the few years since, he has become an internet sensation in the beauty world, with 16 million YouTube subscribers (and nearly the same number on Instagram), his own merchandise line and make up partnerships, and a devoted following. He recently attended this year’s camp-themed Met Gala, the biggest party in fashion.

In a matter of days, everything changed. Mr. Charles is now at the center of an ongoing debate about betrayal among a passionate group of beauty vloggers, bona fide celebrities and the meme-makers of TikTok. He has lost about three million followers on YouTube; Miley Cyrus, Shawn Mendes and Kylie Jenner have all unfollowed him on Instagram.

On Friday, Tati Westbrook, 37, a YouTube beauty vlogger and a former mentor to Mr. Charles, posted a video in which she told Mr. Charles, as well as several million of her closest subscribers, that she no longer wants anything to do with him. Ms. Westbrook, who owns a vitamin company, described in detail how an Instagram ad that Mr. Charles posted on behalf of a rival supplement’s company was a betrayal of their friendship. The summary of the video also links to her product site, Halo Beauty.

His social media channels have been flooded with negative comments, and former fans have posted short videos on TikTok, in which they find myriad ways to vandalize Mr. Charles’s Morphe palette. One dropped the palette into a bathtub full of water. Another painted a snake over the compact’s logo. Still another painted, in what appears to be Wite-Out, the words “Bye Sister” — a reference to the title of the Ms. Westbrook’s video.

Other members of the “influencer community” have stepped into the fray to defend Mr. Charles or to add to Ms. Westbrook’s accusations. Jeffree Star, who has been canceled in the past for saying racists things that he later called “disgusting, vile and nasty,” said in a tweet that Mr. Charles “is a danger to society. Everything Tati said is 100% true.” (He later deleted the tweet.)

Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, a YouTube celebrity with more subscribers than Mr. Charles, Mr. Star and Ms. Westbrook combined, chimed in to question Ms. Westbrook’s actions on his channel. “Tati is 37 years old,” Mr. Kjellberg said. “James Charles is still a teenager.” He added: “For a mother figure to just completely drag this kid — no one has a problem with this?”

The website that sells Mr. Charles’s branded merchandise, Sisters Apparel, appeared defunct on Tuesday; fans speculated that Mr. Star had a hand in the shutdown. (Mr. Star is an owner of Killer Merch, a company that designs, manufactures and ships merchandise for brands, including, until recently, Sisters Apparel.)

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