An Extremely Intricate Guide to Beauty YouTube's Never-Ending Beef: Shane Dawson vs. Jeffree Star vs. James Charles vs. Tati Westbrook

An Extremely Intricate Guide to Beauty YouTube's Never-Ending Beef: Shane Dawson vs. Jeffree Star vs. James Charles vs. Tati Westbrook
Image:Emma McIntyre/Emma McIntyre/Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)

YouTube is an infernal cesspit that imbues those who use its platform to further their own nascent celebrity with an undue sense of power and overlooked responsibility. It is no surprise, then, that the drama that unfolds between its stars, is petty, unnecessary, and extraordinarily complicated.

James Charles, Tati Westbrook, Jeffree Star, and Shane Dawson are all popular YouTubers who have made their way into the news cycle over the past year for infighting, antics, and feuds involving chaotic alliances that are difficult to follow. Perhaps you’ve heard of them and do not know who they are or why anyone should care. Frankly, there’s no real reason to care, but paying attention to the internecine drama that follows YouTubers like a pesky bumblebee is a fun summer activity! Keeping track of what is or isn’t happening with these people is quite difficult, but here’s the latest.

This guide, which is ever-changing and as fickle as the algorithm itself, will be updated as long as these people continue to fight in public and will get you up to speed on this nightmare we’ve now been covering for over a year.

The Main Cast of Characters

Tati Westbrook: YouTube beauty guru who served as James Charles’s mentor before he became sister-famous.

James Charles: one of the first boys on YouTube doing makeup who has used that momentum to propel himself to great heights of niche fame.

Jeffree Star: another beauty guru who got his start on Myspace as a musician and early social media celebrity, proprietor of his own makeup line, shit-stirrer, and racist.

Shane Dawson: a venerable YouTuber known mostly for making a joke about dry-humping and ejaculating on his cat, who also made a five-part documentary series in defense of Jeffree Star.

April 22, 2019: James Charles posted an ad for Sugar Bear Hair vitamins on his Instagram Story, which is problematic only because the company is a direct competitor of Halo Beauty, which is Tati Westbrook’s vitamin company, causing her to make vague allusions about betrayal. Viewers speculated that she was referring to James—which, duh, she was!

April 23, 2019: James Charles responds with an unwieldy apology to Westbrook, citing concerns for his personal safety at Coachella—Sister James did the sponsored story because he called on Sugar Bear Hair’s security detail to protect him and his friends from crowds of fans.

May 10, 2019: “Bye Sister,” a 45-minute apology video, went up on Tati Westbrook’s YouTube channel. The video, which has since been deleted, lives on below. In the video, which is too long, Westbrook accuses Charles of seducing straight men and wielding his “celebrity” as the reason. She also calls Charles a “phony” and says that he is “easily bought.”

Charles posted a response vlog later that day, which has since been deleted from his channel but lives on elsewhere. He makes a mealy-mouthed apology to Westbrook, but, in a crucial misstep, never actually admits doing anything wrong, which invalidates the apology!

May 12, 2019: The aftermath of this drama caused Charles’s subscriber count to plummet, while Westbrook’s ticked up, up, and away. For a brief while during this heady period, a livestream of Charles’s subscribers versus Westbrook’s made for riveting, beautiful television. It is at this point in the proceedings that Jeffree Star decided to enter the fray, despite having no dog in the fight except for his own reputation and insatiable need for drama, the latter of which keeps his cheekbones chiseled and fuels him. In a since-deleted tweet, Star corroborated Westbrook’s allegations and called Charles “a danger to society.” He also quote-tweeted (and once again, deleted): “Why is your brother a predator? Why’d you really have to move back up to NYC? Exactly. Shut the fuck up,” when James’ 17-year-old brother supposedly subtweeted him.

May 13, 2019: Tati Westbrook posted a note to Instagram explaining that she was not prepared to film a reaction to Charles’ apology video, giving the YouTube world some necessary respite. It has been deleted, like most of the social media back-and-forth in this guide. Go figure.

May 14, 2019: Nikita Dragun, another beauty influencer who is not crucial to this story but warrants inclusion nonetheless, tweeted screenshots of texts she received from Charles at Coachella in an attempt to verify that the reason he posted an ad for Sugar Bear Hair vitamins was because he was being attacked. Around the same time, James Charles’ web store, Sisters Apparel, was taken down. It’s unclear by whom. That’s crucial only because of who his distributor is… Jeffree Star.

May 16, 2019: Six days after her initial video, Tati Westbrook posted yet another 18-minute vlog titled “Why I Did It,” explaining why she chose to drop her “Bye Sister” feature film and burden the beauty community. Except, of course, she doesn’t really explain anything, she just sort of says that she can’t get in contact with Charles and she needs her fans to leave him alone. (The video has since been deleted and re-uploaded.)

May 18, 2019: Finally, a video that hasn’t been stripped from its original home! James Charles posted a 41-minute, 34-second vlog titled the deliciously clickbait-y, “No More Lies.” He covers a lot in the prestige television episode-length video, beginning with an apology to Westbrook and Star for bringing his personal faults forward, or something. He also details what went down between him and Westbrook, even describing an incident in Seattle when he was “inappropriate” with a “straight” waiter (that guy uploaded his own vlog and revealed he is “bi-curious.”) He also shares texts from Star, in which the makeup mogul threatened him with other “victims,” leading to James Charles revealing he went “to a place so dark, [that] I didn’t think I was going to come back from [it].”

May 19, 2019: Like clockwork, Jeffree Star responded with his own 14-minute video (don’t worry, it was de-monetized, that’s how you know he’s being serious) titled “Never Doing This Again,” where he essentially stole the same language James Charles used (he, too, went to “a very dark place,”) and says that he’s done with the drama and definitely won’t show any receipts, because he’s above that. Sure, man. It reads like a thinly-veiled attempt to cover his own ass, but that doesn’t seem to matter, because it works. The drama gets quiet for a few months.

September 24, 2019: Out of nowhere, Shane Dawson releases a trailer for his “second documentary” series on Jeffree Star, “The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star.” Like all of Shane’s content, there’s nothing truly documentary-like about the series, because it follows… himself… as he releases a makeup collection with Star. It’s a brilliant promo. The trailer is important because it teases some inclusion of the drama—Dawson is seen reacting to both Tati Westbrook and James Charles’s videos, and he looks overcome with emotion. When the series debuts in three parts in October and November, there’s no inclusion of Dramaggeddon 2.0. Fans are furious and confused—why tease it in the trailer if it wasn’t even going to be mentioned in the series?

November 10, 2019: Jeffree Star posts a 27-minute video, “What Shane Dawson DELETED From The Series.. Conspiracy Palette Tutorial,” just before the final video in Shane’s “documentary” series publishes. Despite the title, Star fails to mention James Charles and Tati Westbrook by name. He does, however, allude to the “drama,” and said he and Dawson were still planning on covering it in the series. Of course, by the time the series end, they did not.

February 3, 2020: While the rest of the world waited for Tati Westbrook and James Charles to get back into the game, Westbrook debuts some new Tati Beauty products, including an $18 makeup applicator called “the Blendiful,” which fans online criticize for being of poor quality. Others consider it a “cash grab,” and the most conspiratorial among us wonder if she released her fans on James Charles in order to drum up her subscriber count and eventually, have a super-successful release. Who knows what the truth is? On Feb. 3, she releases a video arguing that her product is good and she’s made no money off it, so take that as you will.

April 28, 2020: All beefs require reigniting to last over a year, and that’s Jeffree Star’s specialty. While paying a visit to the Mom’s Basement podcast, hosted by YouTuber demons FaZe Banks, Killer Keemstar, and Colossal, Star decided to bring up the drama once more. When asked about those sexual misconduct allegations against James Charles that he teased last year, Star said, “Someone told us a few things and we trusted that person’s opinion and then another person said some things that was friends with that man and it really convinced us that he was a predator. At the end of the day, I’m not going to out a victim of James Charles.” He also says that Westbrook should’ve never uploaded the “Bye Sister” video in the first place, and that James Charles seems to think he and Shane Dawson orchestrated Dramaggeddon 2.0 to bring him down. “We’re our own superstars,” he said of himself and Dawson. “Why would we ever want to bring someone down? We don’t give a fuck.” So much for a guy who just a few months prior said he was down with this, huh?

June 10, 2020: Beauty YouTuber Kameron Lester posted a 27-minute IGTV video explaining that while working with Jeffree Star, he felt like he was “the token Black kid,” and that “I felt like he was trying to send a message in some way that I was replaceable as a Black boy.” He also claimed to have been fired from working on Shane Dawson’s Jeffree Star YouTube series because he heard Dawson shit-talking James Charles—which he found to be notable because the guy is seen as the social media platform’s truth-teller, and being rude is not his public persona. Lester also said that Star and Dawson knew about Westbrook’s “Bye Sister” video long before she posted it, which means a few things: 1.) Shane Dawson’s public image as an honest guy is probably bullshit, 2.) Perhaps there is some truth to the idea that Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star orchestrated the video—or at least, that they convinced Tati to go forward with the video.

June 21, 2020: Dawson, now a seemingly guilty player in Dramaggeddon 2.0, unleashed a series of frustrated Tweets (which he—and say it with me now—deleted.) They were messages like, “The beauty gurus who are ALWAYS involved in scandals are ALL THE F*UCKING SAME… They are all attention-seeking game playing egocentric narcissistic vengeful two-faced ticking time bombs ready to explode. And I’m OVER it.” He also admitted to knowing Westbrook was going to release the video (but denied any involvement in its creation) and said this of James Charles: “Do I think he was a young egocentric power-hungry guru who needed to be served a slice of humble pie the size of the f*cking Empire State Building? YES.” Once again, the internet never forgets:

June 23, 2020: In a deleted comment on yet another YouTuber’s video, Samantha Ravndahl’s 23-minute “the entire beauty community isn’t toxic, you are lol,” CassieeMUA, a beauty YouTuber, claimed that James Charles asked Shane to remove any mention of the Tati “Bye Sister” drama because “it would reopen wounds that he was still trying to heal from,” and Dawson ignored his plea and included it anyway. Once again, he was starting to look a little suspicious.

June 26, 2020: Inspired by Jenna Marbles, another YouTuber who recently announced her departure from the platform after her past racist and sexist jokes resurfaced, Dawson posted his own de-monetized, 20-minute clip titled, “Taking Accountability.” For the most part, he focused on multiple mentions of pedophilia and bits done in blackface in his channel’s history, but he also took a breath to apologize for his June 21 note, saying it was meant to be “funny,” and that he regrets all of it, especially the “humble pie” language used against James Charles.

June 30, 2020: While Shane inevitably brainstorms with Jeffree on how to paint himself a martyr in all of this (or so we think that might be his approach—he’s supposedly adored on the platform, how else would he play it?), Tati Westbrook re-entered the chat. In an extremely juicy 40 minute vlog titled “BREAKING MY SILENCE…” the guru made a handful of accusations about Dramaggeddon 2.0, specifically that she made her “BYE SISTER” video after being “gaslit” by Shane and Jeffree. She said that while she had been worried about what she perceived to be James Charles’s “growing sense of entitlement,” in the months leading up to the video, and was sent over the edge by accusations the pair brought forth—most damningly that Shane and Jeffree had evidence of Charles’s “victims,” which included minors. In the weeks before the video, Westbrook says she spent time with Shane and Jeffree, both of whom spoke ill of Charles, leading her to become “manipulated and weaponized,” by them.

The accusations multiply from there. Tati said she was worried James Charles would hurt himself the day she posted the video, and Shane assured her that because James is a narcissist, he would never do that. She also said the last time she spoke to Shane and Jeffree was right before Jeffree released his apology video in May 2019. She told them not to include any of the James Charles drama in the series, and Shane said it would only make up one episode. (Of course, it was cut out altogether. But… why?) At the end of the video, Tati theorizes that rivalry between her and James Charles was created for business—to get them out of the way for the release of Jeffree and Shane’s collaborative Conspiracy eye shadow palette. She reveals she has moved twice since the incident, fearing for her life, and has lawyers involved.

In the video, Westbrook also issued an apology to YouTuber Jackie Aina for ignoring Star’s ongoing racism over the years. Aina has been calling out Star for his alleged racism since 2017, refusing to feature his products on her channel, which reaches 3.47 million subscribers.

“In early May when Jeffree went on a podcast and denied responsibility for his involvement and placed blamed on me, it was both cowardly and defamatory. Last week, when Shane issued his statements about his involvement in all of this, I also perceived them as cowardly and defamatory,” she says near the end of the video. “As for everyone else involved, who did anything underhanded or defamatory over the last year, I am still well within the statute of limitations to bring a civil action to seek recovery for my damages. Should I proceed with this course of action, my attorneys will be deposing all witnesses who have information about the truth of what happened here… I just want my life back.”

On the same day, Shane Dawson hopped on Instagram Live to stream his reaction to the video, accusing Tati Westbrook of fake crying (what’s more YouTube than a few alligator tears?) and lying. In the background, his fiancé Ryland Adams can be heard instructing him to log off. That’s great advice for everyone:

Adams also posted on Twitter in support of Dawson:

July 2, 2020: Jackie Aina announced on Twitter that she would no longer be working with Morphe, most likely because the brand still stocks Star’s cosmetics.

July 3, 2020: James Charles’ fans expected him to respond in his own video this week, but instead, he told them he was taking “some time.”

July 19, 2020: After a few weeks of blessed silence, Jeffree Star posted a video entitled “Doing the Right Thing.” In the video, which was shot somewhere on the grounds of his palatial home, Star sits with his knees curled under him in a pink bathrobe in the middle of a crushed velvet sofa, assuming a position meant to convey contrition.

“I’ve been silent for a very long time,” he says. “I know that’s very rare for me.” Instead of leaning into that silence, though, Star takes the viewer on a wild journey through his thought process. “When you speak from your emotions without processing things, that is a very major problem,” he says. Acknowledging this is a great first step, of course, but if the beauty community started actually processing their emotions before making 10-minute-long apology videos, well, there would be no drama.

Is this the end of Dramaggedon 2.o? Of course not. And as such, we will continue to update this post as new information becomes available.

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