The Internet Confuses Me: YouTube – James Charles vs. Tati

Beauty Gurus RULE YouTube.  Well, that and gamers.  And muckbangers, ASMRtists, unboxers, slime.  Okay, scratch that.  Beauty Gurus are an essential part of YouTube and the internet in general.  The Beauty Industry is a $445 Billion industry, and a review by one of the major Beauty Gurus can make or break a product launch, and in some cases, a whole company.

My headline is misleading.  While the internet has confused me on other occasions, this time around, I was watching in real time while the event in question happened.  Some folks pay attention to sports; I pay attention to online Beauty Gurus. 

Consider this your primer to a strange cultural zeitgeist.  

What’s a Beauty Guru? 

A Beauty Guru, also known as a  Beauty Influencer, a Beauty Vlogger, or a Beauty YouTuber, is a person who creates videos of tutorials and or reviews of cosmetic products. These videos are found on YouTube.  From skin care to hair, to nails, to makeup – there’s a guru for everything.  

Being a Beauty Guru is big business.  At a rate of about $18 per 1000 views, with videos getting millions of views – the money certainly ads up. Some of the most popular Beauty YouTubers make millions of dollars a year from the ad revenue on their YouTube channels – and don’t forget that they also have poppin’ Instagram accounts (also monetized), along with brand deals, sponsorship deals, and companies just sending them free stuff in hopes that it will show up in a video.  It’s a lucrative business for the very few who end up at the top (stay in school kids – the odds of being a top YouTuber are infinitesimal – 0.3% of YouTube videos get even 500,000 views.) 

Who Is Tati Westbrook? 

Tati is one of the “old school” Beauty Gurus.  She launched her channel GlamLifeGuru in 2010, making her one of the most established beauty influencers on YouTube.  In an industry dominated by youth, Tati continues to use her talent, influence, and honesty to show that there’s still definitely a place for the 30+ crowd in the beauty industry.  Last year, Tati launched her own vitamin supplement company, Halo Beauty.  

Who is James Charles? 

James Charles is a 19-year-old makeup phenom.  He came on the scene at 17 years old, and to be honest; people had a difficult time taking him seriously.  Tati Westbrook was one of the few who realized how talented he was, and she gave him his break by promoting him in her videos.  James Charles went on to become the most subscribed Beauty Guru with 16,572,826 subscribers. 

What happened? 

Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurl.  What didn’t happen?  In a nutshell, James went to Coachella.  At Coachella, James and his friends were supposedly mobbed by fans and a vitamin company – Sugar Bear Hair – offered to give James a security team in exchange for a shout out on his Instagram.  Uh oh.  Remember how James’ good friend Tati owns a vitamin company?  James never gave Tati a shout out on his Instagram – even though she had offered to pay him – because he didn’t think that promoting vitamins to his very young audience was a good idea.  But now, suddenly, on the spur of the moment, it’s a good idea? This sudden change in philosophy didn’t sit well with Tati.  

Her response:

Then, a friend of James Charles, Gabriel Zamora, decided to chime in, saying it was “all about vitamins.”

Girl.  It was never all about vitamins.  The vitamins were the catalyst.  The problem was that James Charles has forgotten who he was, and has forgotten who got him where he is.  He got too big for his britches, and so his Internet Mom decided to let everything out. 

Tati responded:

The Internet responds: That ain’t it, Sis.  

In general, this video hasn’t been well-received, and James Charles continues to hemorrhage subscribers. As of this writing, James Charles is down a record 2,323,220 subscribers, and Tati is up a record 3,474,326 subscribers, respectively setting records for channel contraction and growth in such a short time. Here’s a real-time counter of those subscriber numbers: 

So, in broad strokes, that’s the gist of the situation.  There is, of course, more to it, but in general, that’s it.  Nutshell, it was never really about vitamins. It was about treating people with kindness and what happens when success goes to your head. The people who you see on your way up will be the same folk you see on the way down – if you’re not careful.  



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