Last month Tati Westbrook became internationally famous after she publically accused YouTube sensation James Charles of using his fame to exploit straight men sexually. Her reputation as a trustworthy and “drama free” beauty vlogger enabled her to convince millions of her claims. However, the squeaky clean image of Westbrook is not what it seems. Her marriage to James Westbrook indicates there could be a pattern of deception in their past that makes the couple not as trustworthy as they appear on YouTube.
On May 10, 2019, Tati Westbrook uploaded a video titled, “Bye Sister.” In the video, she publically broke up with her friend James Charles. Westbrook accused James of using his fame to sexually coerce and manipulate straight men’s sexuality. Tati insisted the public video was needed because her previous attempts to call-out James’ behavior towards straight men had not been successful.
Additionally, she accused him of taking her and her husband, James Westbrook for granted. Westbrook claimed in the video that she met Charles “pre-Cover Girl” before he had industry connections.
In the video, Tati stated that her husband was a well-connected businessman that had extensive business experience. She claimed through her husband’s industry connections that Jame Charles’ business exploded and became extremely lucrative.
Additionally, Tati shared her belief that James Charles “gets what he wants” and blamed the behavior on his age. She provided details about interactions with James Charles that left her feeling used and under appreciated. According to Tati, her frustration related to his behavior became amplified after James Charles promoted a competing line of vitamins by “Sugar Bear Hair.”
In the video, she discussed a “2-minute” Instagram story that she posted after James Charles promoted Sugar Bear Hair. She claimed the video was about her sadness related to the post. Tati said she felt “lied to” and “betrayed” by James Charles putting up the post on Instagram without talking to her first. Additionally, she said that James Charles failed to reach out to her before he posted the ad.
A YouTube account posted the full Instagram “story,” watch below:
In “Bye Sister,” Tati said she had previously received backlash related to her vitamins. She referenced issues from the past and the launch of her vitamins. Shortly after her vitamin launch, many people questioned her choice to launch a controversial product like a hair supplement. Additionally, articles about Halo Beauty and various ingredients appeared in Allure, Bustle, and Vox.
The articles were critical of the ingredients Tati Westbrook used such as Saw Palmetto which can potentially interfere with birth control. In the Vox article, the investigation looked at safety issues, product claims, and the lack of regulation in the supplement industry. According to their investigation, supplements like those by Halo Beauty are not backed by science, regulated by the FDA, nor do they have clinical studies that prove their effectiveness.
Vox summed up the article by writing the following about Tati,
“Tati Westbrook, the beauty guru, faced backlash about her supplement line from skeptical fans who challenged her on pretty much every single claim and ingredient. At one point, she had to disable her comments because things got very heated. She eventually posted a 50-minute YouTube video to rebut the “haters” and explain the line, though she started out with the assertion, “This is not snake oil.” Her commenters pointed out that she really didn’t provide the proof of efficacy they were asking for.”
After Westbrook uploaded the video on Instagram, James Charles publically apologized to Tati.
Additionally, Charles reached out multiple times by phone and text to talk to his friend. However, Tati ignored him and refused to speak to him. Charles shared his attempts to reach Tati in his video, “No More Lies.” Charles insists that Tati failed to respond to his texts and didn’t return his calls. He provided screen shots of his communication.
Charles’ screenshots were a stark contrast to Tati’s statements that the teen didn’t reach out to her or attempt to clear the air. The messages included a response from Tati that said, “If you support my number one competitor after all the support I’ve given you – I look like a fool. I’m just really hurt. This isn’t makeup where people buy multiples of vitamins in each category. This will harm my business.”
Below a screenshot from James shows that he tried to reach out to Tati multiple times, but she did not respond. Important to note, James Charles, thanked Tati for her advice related to “boys.”
“..I did want to let you know that I’m looking into therapy and another way to get my feelings out and figure out how to deal with these things because my thoughts have been dangerous recently. I’m not proud and I’m not in a good place but I can’t thank you enough for the advice you’ve given me.”
He also shared that he was receiving death threats from her fans after she published her Instagram story. James wrote, “I’m now getting death threats from fans right now for betraying you and calling me a snake, I’d really appreciate if you could call me so we can talk and I can make things right with you.”
When Tati failed to answer James, he reached out to her husband James Westbrook and asked him to have Tati him.
Charles began hemorrhaging subscribers on YouTube. In two days, Charles lost nearly 2 million subscribers. On May 10, 2019, Social Blade analytics show that James Charles lost 1.26 million subscribers. Within a week his subscriber count fell by more than 3.5 million. In response, Charles uploaded an apology message to Tati and viewers panned his video. Millions accused him of lying and called his apology “fake.”
As James Charles’ life fell apart, Tati Westbrook remained unusually silent. She didn’t publically speak again until May 16 when she uploaded a second video titled “Why I did it” which defended her choice to call out James Charles.
By May 18, James Charles was done being dragged around the internet. He uploaded a video titled “No more lies.” In the video, Charles provided evidence that Tati lied about multiple parts of her story. Tati provided no evidence in any of her videos, and quickly the support of millions shifted from Westbrook to Charles.
Additionally, Westbrook’s biggest claim that James Charles used his fame and power to coerce straight men fell apart. In her video “Bye Sister,” Westbrook said James coerced a “straight waiter” into a sexual relationship by using his power, influence, fame, and threats to ruin him. However, the waiter uploaded a video on YouTube which painted a drastically different picture. Sam Cooke admitted that at the time he was “bi-curious” and that the interaction between Charles and him was consensual.
Soon after James Charles uploaded his side of the story, Tati’s subscriber count began falling. WOACB investigated Westbrook’s past to determine if her “trustworthy” and “good girl” image she portrayed to viewers was based in reality. Westbrook’s “trustworthy” and “honest” image was what prompted many people to initially believe her statements about James Charles.
Additionally, WOACB looked into her marriage to see if her husband was the successful businessman that she claimed in her “Bye Sister” video. According to Westbrook, her husband James was instrumental in helping James Charles increase revenue on YouTube and helped him with various business contracts.
However, an in-depth look into James Westbrook’s past revealed that his business success was not what it seemed.
In 1993, James Westbrook was sued in court by a landlord for breach of contract. A court ordered a more than $12,000.00 judgment against him. At the same time, he started a business called Westbrook Novelty. The lease and lawsuit were related to his business. By 1994, James Westbrook filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, he was evicted from his home, and Westbrook Novelty dissolved a year later.
By the mid-2000s, James Westbrook had launched companies in Los Angeles and Nevada. We located business records in the Nevada Secretary of State from as far back as 2005. A quick review of the Nevada Secretary of State Businesses revealed Westbrook attempted to launch multiple companies.
Between 2005 – 2013 Westbrook formed five separate businesses. He formed Anonymous Angels LTD, Nfity Records, Jet West Music Group, Morehits Marketing Group, and Go Beauty Girl.
According to state records, three of the business were permanently revoked by the Secretary of State. One company, Morehits Marketing, was revoked by the State. Finally, James and his partner dissolved Go beauty Girl in 2013. Despite our efforts to find information about the companies, there were no articles, websites, or publications we could find connected to the businesses through multiple searches online.
Legally, James Westbrook has faced a number of lawsuits. A lawsuit in California and another in Hawaii accused Westbrook of defrauding his family and a lender in California.
In Hawaii Federal Court, James Westbrook’s sister Julie Bean sued him for defrauding and stealing money from their deceased mother’s estate.
According to the complaint, Bean alleges that in 2008, their mother assigned her power of attorney of the estate. Bean stated that her mother did not want James Westbrook to have access to the estate because he had already taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from her.
Bean alleged that Westbrook took out a reverse mortgage in his mother’s name and liquidated her estate.
Additionally, Bean asserts that Westbrook began liquidating the estate and their mother’s possessions without including his sisters.
Eventually, the court case went back to the state and went into the probate court. Through the probate court, the court made Julie Bean the executor of the estate. James Westbrook denied the allegations. However, the court ordered that the estate, i.e., James pays Julie Bean’s legal fees.
James Westbrook flatly denied that he defrauded or misled his sister. Rather, he said that he executed the estate per the request of his mother. The siblings sold the home in Hawaii in 2016.
Then a lender in California sued James Westbrook for breach of contract and fraud. The lender stated that James failed to pay him back on multiple loans connected to his mother’s property in Hawaii.
According to court documents, James Westbrook approached the lender in 2012 and requested multiple loans. Westbrook intended to use the money to launch his business “Morehits Media.”
James Westbrook convinced the lender to loan the money by claiming to be the sole heir to his mother’s property in Hawaii. Promissory notes provided to the court showed that Westbrook used the property as collateral.
By 2016 Hawke learned that Westbrook sold the property and failed to pay him back. When the loan went into default, Hawke sued Westbrook in District Court. In April 2018, the district court ordered a judgment to Hawke totaling more than $520,000.00.
With numerous failed or closed businesses in James Westbrook’s past, WOACB found it difficult to confirm Westbrook’s assertion that her husband was successful in business. With multiple lawsuits in three states related to fraud or non-payment, WOACB was left with questions related to his business successes.
At the same time, James Westbrook fought fraud lawsuits in multiple states, Tati Westbrook launched a vitamin brand. She claimed in numerous YouTube videos she had been researching and developing the product for years. However, business records in the state of California showed the business formed in 2017 shortly before she launched her vitamins.
In March 2018, Tati Westbrook’s vitamins launched to a lot of criticism. Individuals accused her of selling snake oil, lying about ingredients, using harmful components, and being dishonest about the production of the vitamins. Many people believed Westbrook used a private label company that formulates the vitamin and allows private companies to stick their name on the vitamin.
Westbrook denied her products were private label. However, she provided no details about the labs or doctors she alleged created the vitamins. Nor did she disclose any employees from her business beyond her husband James and a separate business partner named Clark Swanson.
In a video uploaded on March 5, 2018, Westbrook bragged that her husband was extremely intelligent, business astute, and had launched and sold multiple businesses.
Only a month later, her husband James Westbrook lost the court case against the lender for more than $340,000.00.
Between her two videos, more than 70 million people viewed her complaints about James Charles. Additionally, both videos included links to her Halo vitamins, and she promoted the products in the videos.
Westbrook’s YouTube channel exploded and added more than 5 million new subscribers. Additionally, she shared on Twitter that her company would be processing the vast influx of vitamin orders as fast as possible.
With 5 million new subscribers to sell her vitamins to on YouTube, Westbrook didn’t miss an opportunity to promote her products. All of the videos contain a direct link to her vitamins and website. Additionally, Westbrook announced the launch of a new product offered by Halo Beauty. “Body and Brain Booster.” Westbrook shared the product in a video uploaded on YouTube on June 14, 2019, just over a month after she uploaded “Bye Sister.”
In her video, Westbrook shared that her sales for her vitamins spiked in May. She claimed that a photo shared by YouTuber Shane Dawson on Twitter caused the influx in new orders. Dawson shared a before and after photo on Twitter on May 12, 2019. Additionally, Westbrook denied her increased sales had anything to do with her video related to James Charles.
However, her video about James Charles was seen more than 48 million times. In the video, she discussed her vitamin line multiple times and how they related to her feelings about James Charles. The new video uploaded last week Westbrook insisted she spoke only about her vitamins briefly at the end of the video related to sponsoring influencers. Yet, WOACB rewatched the video and found that Westbrook discussed the vitamins at various points throughout the video. Additionally, she discussed the quality ingredients in the products and her plans to continue to expand her brand.
Westbrook’s assertion that Shane Dawson led to the spike in sales appears unlikely. Dawson’s tweet had 272,000 likes and nearly 18,000 retweets. Whereas her two videos related to James Charles had more than 70 million total views. The viral video became international news and the story was featured widely in the media. In an article on CNN, the outlet wrote about how the feud related to competing vitamin companies. Similar articles appeared on NBC, ABC, Buzz Feed, Daily Mail, The Daily Beast, and People Magazine to name a few.
Tati’s reputation has not been entirely unscathed during the past month. Since James Charles uploaded his video “No More Lies,” Westbrook has lost subscribers every day. On May 18, 2019, Westbrook peaked at 10.63 million subscribers according to analytics obtained by Social Blade. By June 17, 2019, Social Blade reported that her subscribers had fallen to 10,012,000. In less than a month, Westbrook lost 617,000 subscribers.
If her losses continue on this trajectory, Social Blade estimates the beauty guru could lose 6.1 million subscribers in the next year.
Since James Charles uploaded his video exposing Tati, she has not had a day of positive subscriber gains. Additionally, Social Blade data shows that Tati deleted both videos about James Charles from her account.
For James Charles part, he was forced to cancel his “Sisters” tour due to poor mental health, pulled his clothing brand from Killer Merch, and has seen his image tattered. Even though James Charles debunked Tati’s claims about the waiter in Seattle, fans of Westbrook continue to call him a sexual predator on social media.
A source connected to James Charles told Without a Crystal Ball that he is devastated by what happened. However, Charles hopes to put the entire ordeal behind him. Additionally, the source said that the cancellation of the Sister’s tour was in response to the backlash he received from Tati Westbrook’s video. According to the source, James Charles paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in cancellation fees for the tour out of his own pocket.
Additionally, Charles has not uploaded any new content to YouTube since May 18, 2019. In his May video, Charles admitted that the accusations that he was a sexual predator and the subsequent bullying by millions of people online led him to feel suicidal. The video description contained the Suicide Hotline number in the event others were feeling the same way.
WOACB asked the source if James Charles’ received business help from the Westbrooks’. Additionally, we requested clarification on whether or not the couple was instrumental in helping propel James Charles’ further in her career a claim Westbrook made in her video. The source told us that James Charles’ was already signed by Cover Girl before he met Tati Westbrook. Additionally, they said James Charles may have asked for their advice on certain topics, but his success could not be attributed to their help.
Rather, James Charles saw them as friends in the industry and believed he could trust them as “role model” figures while he lived in Los Angeles away from his family. The source asserts that Charles’ knew nothing about their backgrounds with businesses, lawsuits, or criminal convictions.
Perhaps most importantly, the source wanted to remind everyone that James Charles is not a sexual predator or a danger to society. In fact, the source said James Charles was a young man that trusted the wrong people.
Without a Crystal Ball attempted to reach out to Tati Westbrook via twitter to respond to the allegations. Westbrook did not respond. Rather, she blocked us from communicating with her.
Beauty influencers rely on their audiences to trust them for their honesty and integrity. Multiple holes in Tati’s story and her denials related to the fallout could make some fans less likely to trust her. When perception matters, influencers need to be transparent with their viewers about their lives. Leaving out details, omitting facts, or denying responsiblity can absolutely affect a person’s opinion about the influencer. In the case of Tati, many fans are continuing to share their mistrust by unsubscribing to her channel and moving on with their lives.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis on The Non-Sequitur Channel. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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Shortly after publishing the article, Westbrook reached out to WOACB via an attorney and requested we remove our article. The letter said that if the article was not removed, the Westbrook’s may sue WOACB for defamation, harassment, and injury.
After a review of our article, we stand behind our investigation. The pattern of closed businesses, lawsuits, liens, and judgments painted a pattern of behavior not consistent with the image Tati Westbrook portrays on screen. Under the United States Constitution free speech by journalists is protected. The legal definition of “defamation” means the author publishes untrue statements or lies intended to cause injury to the person. WOACB used sources from court records in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, California, Hawaii, and the Federal Government. Additionally, the records obtained related to the businesses were publically available through the Secretary of State in Nevada and California.
Not only is the article not an attempt to defame or injure Westbrook, but rather the conclusions drawn by WOACB are the express opinions of Katie Joy. Opinions about a person’s behavior are not defamation and are protected under the constitution. Additionally, the couple would need to prove that our article resulted in them losing business. However, their sales have spiked according to Tati Westbrook’s own statements on YouTube.
Additionally, Anti-Slapp laws in California protect journalists from individuals using the legal system to stop them from publishing less than desirable details related to their business dealings or lives. Speech protected under Anti-Slapp that relates to coverage of celebrities and influencers reads:
“any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest”
“Many different kinds of statements may relate to an issue of public interest. California courts look at factors such as whether the subject of the disputed statement was a person or entity in the public eye, whether the statement involved conduct that could affect large numbers of people beyond the direct participants, and whether the statement contributed to debate on a topic of widespread public interest. Certainly, statements educating the public about or taking a position on a controversial issue in local, state, national, or international politics would qualify.”