The Life & Times of James Charles

James charles bio
Grooming allegations are washing James Charles' mask off. (Credit: James Charles)

James Charles rose to fame early and quickly. Sadly, this success story has been marked with several high-profile controversies that have tarnished the beauty Youtuber's legacy despite his tender age. This is the story of James Charles.

YouTube star James Charles can be presented as a prime example of what early fame can do to a person. He was an established name before he hit 20 and in no time, got himself into more trouble than he could properly chew on. Our influencer bio series will go over the key moments of Charles' rise to the top and the issues that surround his personality.

From Local Hairstylist to Famous Makeup Artist

James Charles grew up in New York and quickly made his way towards the hobby that would make him a household name: making people beautiful. He first started as a hairstylist in his high school days, but shifted towards makeup not long after.

That relatively minor switch would end up being massive, as young James' name would become well known sooner than he could have ever anticipated.

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Overnight Success

James Charles was born into the social media generation, so he already had established a makeup tutorial YouTube channel at age 16. It would take him about a year to actually blow up, but once he did, there was no stopping him. Well, maybe. We'll get to that in a minute. Let's stick to the good parts first.

In September 2016, James Charles' senior portrait went viral on Twitter. That's all it took for the then 17-year-old to start breaking boundaries. The month after, he became the first male spokes model for CoverGirl ever. Two more months passed and the New York native already had his own clothing line and makeup collection. Talk about a quick rise in ranks.

What About YouTube?

The upwards trajectory outside of YouTube translated effortlessly onto the video platform. By the time 2019 rolled, James Charles' YouTube channel was also rolling - on 10 million subscribers. That number continued to rise over the next couple of years and currently stands at a dizzying 25.5 million subscribers.

Perhaps the cherry of his channel's cake was the first season of the YouTube Originals series Instant Influencer, which was co-produced and hosted by the beauty YouTuber in an attempt to find the next star in that field.

James charles instant influencer
James Charles lasted just one season as Instant Influencer host. (Credit: James Charles via YouTube)

Unfortunately for James, his subscriber count and his show have not escaped from the steady grip of drama.

James Charles vs. Tati Westbrook

The title "Bye Sister" surely speaks a lot to any James Charles fan. That's the title of the 43-minute video that Tati Westbrook uploaded on YouTube in May 2019. The accusations made by former collaborator Westbrook included Charles stabbing her in the back by endorsing a direct opponent's products and, more controversial, acting predatorial towards straight men.

James Charles' initial response did not go well, and he lost millions of followers because of this whole story. He finally found a way out with a 40+ minute video of his own, in which he presented enough evidence to debunk Westbrook. That controversy ended on a positive note for the man, as Tati Westbrook deleted the Bye Sister video and formally apologized in June 2020.

We would have loved to stop here, but that was far from JC's biggest commercial collapse.

James Charles Grooming Allegations

Shit truly hit the fan in February 2021, when the first of what would be over a dozen underage boys came out with claims that James Charles approached them inappropriately online, despite knowing their age. At one point, not a week could pass without a new victim coming out.

Not all of them were proved genuine, yet enough evidence was brought up to force Charles into an apology video. The big issue here, is that admitting to grooming young boys is not the same as admitting you've cheated in Call of Duty. Predatory behavior against minors is actually illegal.

As of the writing of this article, the repercussions for Charles are limited to losing his job as Instant Influencer host and the business relations with Morphe the company that had distributed James' makeup collection – and general tarnishing of public image.

It remains to be seen, however, whether his confession could result in actual legal actions taken against him. Even if the answer is no, James Charles is walking on thin ice and should become a model citizen from now on. That is if he has any hopes of remaining at the heights he rose so quickly to.

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