The most dramatic catfights between beauty YouTubers: Fallouts and cancellations to know about in 2019
It may seem farfetched to draw similarities between the beauty industry and much-lauded HBO series, Game of Thrones — except it's not. If recent scandals have proven anything, it is that both feature complex politics, power struggles, and, uh, a whole lot of racism. Ugh. To paint the entire industry with the same brush isn't exactly fair, though, especially when it is only a small faction responsible for the misdemeanours. Meet the accused: beauty YouTubers.
Harbouring millions upon millions of followers, these YouTubers are often regarded to be tastemakers within the beauty community, with big name brands paying staggering amounts (think USD185,000 for an IG post) for their "genuine" endorsements. Shady as the practice is, it is further eclipsed by the constant cries of racism, fraud, and a barrage of transphobic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic rhetorics.
The frequency of such scandals proves confusing even to the most intrepid of nosy beauty writers (aka me). In the interest of providing for the People (aka you); a comprehensive guide as to the noteworthy beef between beauty YouTubers. Strap up; it's a hell of a bumpy ride.
Jeffree Star vs. Gabriel Zamora, Laura Lee, Nikita Dragun and Manny MUA
Ah, the biggest doozy of them all. It all begins with the release of The Secret World of Jeffree Star, a four-part docu-series filmed by fellow YouTuber, Shane Dawson. In three hours, Star alluded to past feuds of members within the beauty YouTube community, claiming that he will always be seen as the "f*cking bad guy" even when he only "love, cared, and boosted them up."
This, of course, prompted a reaction from aforementioned ex-friends: Gabriel Zamora, Laura Lee, Nikita Dragun and Manny MUA. The quartet responded with an image of themselves, middle fingers raised.
When Star's fans came to his defense, Zamora made racist allegations towards Star, saying that he "would constantly say racist things about black people." In days following, Star's fans uncovered old, racist tweets from the group.
Lee got the worst of it, as her account was a hotbed of racist and fat-shaming tweets. Retaliation was swift: American beauty emporium Ulta cancelled the launch of her makeup line, brands dropped her, and she lost close to half a million of her five million followers. Her (seemingly non-geniuine) tear-filled apology video spawned memes, mockery, and not enough makeup launches in the world to save her career, apparently.
Manny MUA vs. Sahara Lotti
Founder of lashes label, Lashify, Lotti received a rude awakening after influencer Manny MUA purchased her lashes out of his own volition. Jumping upon a supposed "marketing strategy", she rushed to ship out his package and included an extra USD200 worth of products.
In response, Manny released a video review in which he criticised the lashes price and design, ripping them off and declaring them "sh*t." The kicker: he then linked competitor, Lily Lashes, in the description of his video. And as if the pettiness wasn't already at an all-time high, Lotti proceeded to respond with a video, saying, "I have to remember at the end of the day, he can have all the makeup he wants, but he's still a dude... Manny, you still a dude, bro."
Lotti's comments were met with death threats and bad reviews, leading the entrepreneur to disable the review functions on her company's Google Business Profile and Facebook page.
James Charles vs. Tati Westbrook
In a dramatic takedown to rival the Red Wedding (yes, that's another GoT reference), YouTube veteran Tati Westbrook grinds James Charles to dust with a 43-minute long callout video. In it, she detailed her disapproval for his blatant "seducing of straight men" and "harassment" because "he believed their sexuality to be irrelevant" — alongside his betrayal when he promoted competing wellness label, Sugar Bear Hair, despite claims that he would only "use her product."
Charles has since lost two million (and counting) subscribers in the wake of the video's release, and the Internet has collectively declared him cancelled. They're snapping pictures and videos of their James Charles x Morphe palettes in the trash; some threw them against the wall, others lit them on fire.
While I express my approval for this turn of events, I must say that it's funny how cancellation didn't occur upon the discovery of Charles' racist, ignorant tweets in 2017. Considering how the careers of these makeup artists are still — to a certain extent — alive and well is also rather telling.
Is racism, insensitivity and all-around offense towards one another not enough to nosedive someone's career? Not when it comes to YouTube influencers, it seems. Rather, the discovery of "shady" and/or "double-crossing" behaviour proves to be more immediate in their takedown; an all-around disheartening sentiment considering the progression of diversity and acceptance in the beauty industry as of late. Will these influencers ever get with the times and take a leaf or two from the likes of Fenty, Bobbi Brown, and M.A.C Cosmetics instead of splashing around in their cesspool of drama? One can only hope.