Self-taught make-up artist James Charles Dickinson is known as a social media star who rose to fame with his incredible make-up skills. Charles is the most-followed beauty guru on YouTube and has worked with top celebrities, including Kylie Jenner. He also became the first man to be the ambassador for beauty line CoverGirl in 2016. However, his fame also comes with controversies.
The beauty influencer was born on May 23, 1999 in Bethlehem, New York and developed his interest in make-up from a very young age. Despite getting bullied when he attended Bethlehem Central High School, James Charles did not stop following his passion in the beauty industry. Starting as an amateur hairstylist, he taught himself about make-up and decided to do it professionally. He launched his YouTube channel in 2015, featuring make-up tips and tutorial videos, and also his daily life. Soon, it grew into the most popular beauty channel with more than two billion views.
In 2016, his name went viral on Twitter after he posted a photo saying he retook his senior photos with the touch of his own ring light. Charles also gained global attention, reaching more than 70 million followers (whom he called “sisters”) in his Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms. In 2016, the 17-year-old Charles was chosen as the first male spokesmodel of CoverGirl, showing that the beauty industry is getting more genderless and inclusive. Branched out to business, Charles premiered his own clothing line “sisters” apparel and his collaboration with Morphe for an eye shadow palette in 2018. The collections sold out for a couple times and has been restocked. He also made a collaboration content about Halloween make-up with Kylie Jenner and did make-up for Iggy Azalea for her music video.
Despite the popularity, Charles received a lot of hates from what he said on social media. In 2017, he tweeted a racist comment about Ebola and Africans which was criticized heavily. After apologizing and stating that he would learn from the mistake, he received backlash in the internet for his statement that said he was not fully gay. People insisted his comments were transphobic.
His biggest controversy might be the conflict that involved former collaborator Tati Westbrook. In 2019, she put a video on YouTube that criticized Charles for using his power to play with people’s emotions and manipulating people’s sexuality. It began after Tati felt betrayed by Charles who promoted her rival brand’s vitamin. The video made Charles lose his followers and subscribers drastically within 24 hours. He later answered the conflict in a 8-minutes video “NO MORE LIES”, stating some proofs to reverse Tati’s claim. In 2020, Charles also gained criticism for his careless attitude toward partying with around 67 influencers without mask during the coronavirus pandemic, but then apologized through his social media.