Makeup expert James Charles has become the first YouTube personality to lose a million subscribers in 24 hours – following a bitter row with a fellow vlogger.
The 19-year-old New Yorker has lost nearly three million of his 16.6 million channel fans since details of the feud with his former mentor Tati Westbrook emerged.
So how did things go so wrong?
Who are James Charles and Tati Westbrook?
Born in 1999 in Bethlehem, New York, Charles is described by Metro as a “YouTube sensation, makeup guru and self-proclaimed influencer”. The newspaper says that “more than a billion people have seen him – or someone else’s – make up on YouTube.”
Since launching his channel in 2015, he’s shot to global fame, becoming CoverGirl’s first male spokesperson at the age of 17 and working alongside Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry and Demi Lovato. According to The sunCharles is worth around $12m (£9.2m).
Her former friend Westbrook, 37, is a beauty YouTuber who has been uploading videos to her channel for about eight and a half years. Metro adds that the growth of its channel “allowed it to launch its own line of beauty products, called Halo Beauty”.
Charles has repeatedly credited Westbrook with helping kick-start his career and described her as a “parental” figure in his life.
How did the feud start?
After years of collaboration and friendship, things got out of hand in April when Charles posted an ad on his Instagram account for Sugar Bear Hair supplements. “It turns out that this brand is a huge competitor for Westbrook’s supplement brand, Halo Beauty,” reports CNN.
Hours after the announcement was posted, Westbrook uploaded a series of videos to Instagram in which she explained that she felt “really used.”
“When you do things for the people in your life and they not only don’t reciprocate, they don’t even see you,” she said, without directly referring to Charles. “Welcome to show business, everyone says what they have to say and uses who they have to use to get ahead, and I’ve had enough. It’s not true.”
Charles did not pull the promotion in response, but instead issued a statement directly apologizing to Westbrook and insisting that he was not being paid for the promotion, despite tagging “#ad”.
Why did Charles lose so many subscribers?
Last Friday, Westbrook released a 43-minute video titled “BYE SISTER” in which she accuses Charles of disloyalty and calls his behavior “disgusting.”
“When you teamed up with my number one competitor, it was embarrassing for me and you know it,” she said in the video, which as of Monday had nearly 33 million views. “You kept saying you couldn’t be bought, but you were.”
She also took the opportunity to discuss an incident in which Charles, who is openly gay, allegedly tried to “cheat” a straight waiter at a restaurant.
“You tried to trick a straight man into thinking he’s gay again, and somehow you’re the victim,” she said. “You know it’s really disgusting to manipulate someone’s sexuality…you use your fame, your power, your money to play with people’s emotions.”
That same day, Charles posted a video in which he apologized to Westbrook and her husband, saying he had made “mistakes”.
Addressing the allegation that Charles had attempted to “cheat” straight men, he said he had “been in many very unique and bizarre situations that left people confused or upset”, adding that he had ” learned the hard way the ways that I can interact with people I’m interested in, but also with people I should or shouldn’t be dating”.
“What sucks the most is that I know there’s nothing I can say or do to win back that friendship or that trust, but I don’t blame them,” he said. . “That’s all I have to say, I’m sorry.”
But despite Charles’ damage limitation attempts, the online backlash against him has been fierce. Millions of his subscribers chose to unsubscribe from his channel immediately after the video, and Saturday saw him lose 1,261,460 subscribers, a YouTube record, Sky News reports.
Newsweek says a number of celebrities have also dumped Charles on his various social media accounts, including Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, YouTubers Tana Mongeau, Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson, musicians Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry , Twice, Iggy Azalea and makeup company Morphe.
Meanwhile, Westbrook Follower Count rose from 5.9 million before the “BYE SISTER” video was released to over nine million on Monday afternoon.