It’s always hard to see a mother fight with her own child! Watching Tati Westbrook essentially disown and destroy James Charles - a young YouTube star she considered a son - has been painful. Tati is affectionately referred to as the Mother of Beauty Youtube. She’s been working in the industry for far longer than James Charles, and even gave him a boost by promoting him on her own channel. James and Tati produced several videos together and seemed to support each other with love. Little did we know, this mother-son relationship was crumbling at the foundations.
Earlier this week, Tati Westbrook came for James Charles in a big way. After what she insists were many private conversations, Tati posted a tell-all tea party. In part, Tati was obviously trying to distance herself from James Charles. But why? What happened between this happy pair to cause such a huge rift? Will Tati ever be able to forgive James Charles’s betrayal?
When James Charles first started pursuing a career in the beauty industry, he was not taken seriously. As a teenager, he and his brother moved across the country and away from their family. After Tati and James met, she felt compelled to look out for him - to mother him, invest in him, and protect him. In fact, Tati’s husband (also named James) helped James Charles find representation and negotiate contracts to James’ benefit. All seemed well between the two.
It turns out, James Charles apparently did not feel such strong loyalty to Tati. According to James, he was in an unsafe situation at Coachella and was offered security by a vitamin brand onsite, SugarBearHair. In exchange for this temporary shelter from the crowds, James Charles agreed to represent the vitamin brand on his social media platforms. Here’s the catch: Tati’s brand, Halo vitamins, is a direct competitor to SugarBearHair. You’d think that James Charles would want to back his friend before backing some random brand, right?
Tati thought so, too. She was less upset about his lack of promotion than she was about his thinly veiled lies. It turns out, James Charles had been disrespectful to Tati in several other ways. Wait, it gets worse! James Charles has notoriously bashed other beauty gurus on YouTube - the only problem is, these people have had careers that lasted decades longer than James Charles' YouTube career. He showed an obvious lack of respect for those who established “Beauty YouTube” in the first place.
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Worst of all, Tati spilled the tea on James’ predatorial behavior. Tati pointed out that most of James’ fanbase are young kids and teens. These little ones are seeing James Charles model behavior as though it’s good - but it’s really damaging! She shared an incident that took place at her birthday party, during which James Charles harassed their (straight) waiter despite being asked to stop. When Tati told him he needed to cut it out and that his behavior was unacceptable, James retorted, “Doesn’t matter, I’m a celebrity.”
Tati was not surprised to hear James say something so crude. She insists his content and his behavior are both hypersexual in inappropriate ways. It seems like this incident with the waiter was only another action in a series of problematic choices. James seems to have a predatory relationship with straight or bicurious young men, coercing them into sexual acts with his celebrity and influence.
After Tati revealed all of these issues with James Charles’ life choices, James responded. He posted a simple stripped-down video in glasses and without makeup, crying. In it, he apologized to Tati and his own mother for disappointing them. His message seemed to center around the acknowledgment that he has said he needs to grow up and learn from his mistakes...even though he’s made mistakes before and hasn’t seemed to learn anything yet.
Still, I couldn’t help but be a little moved by James’ seeming vulnerability. It made me wonder: what did Tati think when she saw his video? Did she believe his apology? A few days later, Tati posted a final reply. In this last video Tati explains that she didn’t mean to ruin James’ career, but to reach him after he had refused to listen to her otherwise. A specific phrase caught my ear: “I need distance from the relationship right now.” Right now, Tati? Only right now?
It seems like Tati’s setting herself up to be able to forgive James Charles and continue their friendship after the drama dies down. And why would she do that anyway? Because she is a mother - specifically, she’s a mother figure to James Charles. Even when their children do truly awful things, forgiving your own child is part of the unconditional love a parent should feel for their kid. Does Tati have this same nurturing grace? Our prediction: Tati and James Charles will kiss and make-up with makeup sooner than you might think!