The biggest news story in the world right now started with a fight over beauty supplements.
For Tati Westbrook, it wasn’t the repeated ‘bad behaviour’ of her friend James Charles that urged her to call him out publicly. It wasn’t the allegations of predatory behaviour, or the time he joked about contracting Ebola because he was travelling to Africa. It wasn’t when he put his foot in his mouth while trying to explain his sexuality.
In all those instances, 37-year-old Tati seemingly excused her friend, believing that people make mistakes, especially when they’re teenagers, and that doing one questionable thing doesn’t define a person’s character.
Then James Charles endorsed a rival vitamin company to her own.
In a 43-minute video uploaded to YouTube last Friday, the 37-year-old described how she felt “gutted,” “disrespected,” and “really lost in the [beauty] community”.
“It wasn’t specifically just about vitamins or about Halo,” she said, referring to her supplement brand, Halo Beauty. “But it was just about being lied to.
“James Charles had nine days after Coachella to talk to me… he could’ve come face to face… because he knew this would hurt me.”
What had happened was that James had posted an Instagram ad for SugarBearHair, a brand of gummy vitamins that claim to be ‘revolutionary’ for hair growth.
Listen: Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky on the James Charles controversy. Post continues after audio.
“I always like to tell people: pain is pain,” Tati said in her video, which is now approaching 50 million views. “Life will never stop being painful, no matter where you are in the world, no matter what your circumstances.
“For me, I always like to say that just because the person next to you is in a full body cast, doesn’t mean your broken arm doesn’t hurt. Pain is pain.”
And this particular ‘pain’, while it would have been “better handled privately” in Tati’s own words, was played out in front of millions.
It started a conversation about entitlement, calling people out for their behaviour, and questioning who deserves a public platform.
But let’s not pretend that this feud, between two millionaires who make their money from doing makeup on YouTube, has anything to do with morality.
It’s about ego.
It’s about business.
And it’s about greed.
That much is clear from the dozens of times Tati Westbrook mentions Halo Beauty in her 43-minute video about James Charles. It’s clear from the link to Halo Beauty’s website in the description of that video.
It’s clear from the meticulously timed pop up in the right-hand corner of the video, which appears when Tati compares her own brand to SugarBearHair.