James Charles, Tati Westbrook, and Jeffree Star: How the Drama Plays Out in Subscriber Counts

The YouTubers’ feud is also a tug of war over subscribers.

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Greg Doherty

Why air your dirty laundry on the Internet? Well, if you’re YouTube beauty vloggers James Charles, Tati Westbrook, and Jeffree Star, it’s one way to gain and lose plenty of subscribers. If you’ve been tracking the vlog drama between the three, you maybe also were tracking the fluctuations of their follower counts.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the niche drama that has suddenly transcended the YouTube community, it all started a week ago when Westbrook, who owns the Halo Beauty supplement brand, hopped on her channel to post a 40-minute video, “Bye Sister…,” In it she accused her mentee and friend, 19-year-old James Charles, of some nasty behavior. He not only promoted a rival brand, she said, and embarrassed her, but he also tried to manipulate a “straight” guy and confused him. In Westbrook’s words, Charles “tried to trick a straight man into thinking he’s gay, yet again.”

This video caused Charles to lose about three million subscribers. Many migrated from his account to hers (guess you have to pick one side or the other here). Fans claimed Charles was “canceled” when he released a weepy and weak video apology on May 10; meanwhile, Westbrook went from about four million subscribers to eight million in a week. As his numbers went down, hers went up.

Now add YouTube star Jeffree Star of Jeffree Star Cosmetics to this mix. It seems he was Team Tati and started in with vague attack tweets on James. The kind of tweets that would mean nothing if you weren’t closely following the growing feud suddenly turned into ones calling Charles “a danger to society.” Charles’s clothing line, Sisters Apparel, was removed by his distributor around this time. The website for the line is run by Jeffree Star’s distribution company, Killer Merch. Star later backtracked his crap-talking of Charles after feeling the burn of lost subscribers.

Westbrook then backtracked a bit in an 18-minute video on “Why I Did It…” She claimed she didn’t make the “Bye Sister” video so that the Internet would attack James with abusive memes. She thought she’d be the one losing subscribers. Sure.

Finally, on Saturday night, Charles dropped his own receipts. His “No More Lies” video defended himself, complete with screenshots, video clips, and more. And with it, Westbrook dropped almost 200,000 subscribers. He gained about the same amount in return.

Charles showed himself promoting Halo Beauty and explained that he only promoted the other brand to get out of a mob at Coachella. As far as manipulating straight guys, he explained, “I am a 19-year-old virgin. I have never and will never use my fame, money, or my power to manipulate or get any sexual actions from a guy. That is disgusting. That is not me. The fact that Tati brought this up blows my mind.” And the guy he supposedly caused to question his sexuality? He was, according to James, a bisexual waiter who slid his way into James’s DMs; later, the waiter posted a video validating Charles’s claims.

“The last few weeks of my life have been the most painful time I’ve ever had to deal with,” Charles said. “My head and brain, for a hot minute, went to a place so dark that I didn’t think that I was gonna come back from.”

The current count at time of publication? Jeffree Star has 14,923,551 YouTube subscribers, James Charles has 14,387,043, and Tati Westbrook has 10,419,383.