Just a few days ago, on April 3rd, 2021, James Charles—beauty and fashion YouTube personality sat down in front of a camera with a plain white background and a deflated perm on the top of his head for yet another apology video to his fans. The video, titled “holding myself accountable” (all written in lowercase), is just over fourteen minutes long and features James offering a whispered explanation for his actions.
I know I tend to have an older audience for my writing: I write about issues concerning capitalism, intersectionality, and violence, and this topic might seem childish or gratuitous. You might be thinking: “why should I care about some kid on YouTube making an apology?”. In most situations, I’d agree with you. There are arrays of more important topics than a twenty-one-year-old with way too much money issuing an apology for some arbitrary scandal that he’s gotten himself into. However, what’s different about this situation is that James Charles is not apologizing for an indiscretion or a fight with another creator—he’s trying to issue an apology for soliciting naked pictures from under-aged boys.
A crime has been committed here, an offence against several children. Regardless of how you feel about the validity of YouTube as a medium and how legitimate the influencers and celebrities who are a product of it are, once that power is shifted into “real-life” scenarios and real offences have taken place, it becomes a “real-life” issue that should concern all of us. If these accusations are true—which, have been somewhat confirmed in the apology video—then real children have been victimized by someone with power, influence, and money. We need to have a conversation about what media we’re consuming and who we’re making famous.
If you’re over the age of 25, this still might be confusing. Who is James Charles? Why is he famous? What are the allegations? You’ve come to the right place. Here is a short and comprehensive guide to what’s going on, what the history is, and where we should go from here for people who aren’t immersed in the culture or people who just need a summary of the situation.
Who is James Charles?
James Charles Dickinson is a make-up and beauty YouTuber with—as of right now—25.6 million subscribers. At just 21 years old, he’s collaborated with major celebrities, has his eye shadow palette, and has attended the Met Gala; his net worth sits at about 22 million dollars.
Dickinson gained his fame in 2015: while he already had a minor YouTube channel, he got a lot of traction from claiming that he brought in a ring light (a popular beauty light for photographs) into his school picture shoot. Although years later, this yearbook stunt would be proven to have been faked, his fame had already sky-rocketed, even landing him as the first-ever male representative for Cover Girl.
Before these allegations were made, James Charles already had a long and well-documented history of being an arrogant jerk. There has definitely been a lot of leniency in the name of his youth, and historically, he hasn’t stayed in hot water for very long, but there have been several accounts of his hubris getting in his own way and costing him friends and fans.
While touring in South Africa with Cover Girl in 2017, the then seventeen-year-old Dickinson jokingly tweeted about contracting Ebola overseas, the same year got in a fight on Twitter with the then fourteen-year-old Finn Wolfhard about disliking the Remake of Stephen King’s IT (which Wolfhard starred in), then did a make-up look inspired by the movie for money and attention. He’s been accused of stealing make-up ideas, as well as photo-shopping his make-up looks, actively faking his talent. Dickinson also said in a video that he wasn’t “fully gay” because he was attracted to trans men, suggesting that trans men are not men, and you aren’t gay if you’re attracted to them.
James Charles is definitely no stranger to being in hot water, he’s basically had the chance to upset everyone at some point or another with racism, transphobia, and his general disposition for being an asshole. Like I said earlier, I think he’s been awarded a great amount of slack in the name of youth and growth, but not until now have we seen actions that are beyond what can be allotted to being young and stupid.
What are the Allegations?
As of yesterday, sixteen men and boys have come out to accuse James Charles of inappropriate sexual behavior. Ten of the sixteen are underage, the other six at the very least are held in an imbalance of power between themselves and James Charles, as most of them are his fans. The Twitter account @DefNoodles has done a really thorough job detailing and documenting the allegations, and most of my information comes from them.
January 25th–A Man Claims Harassment on Tik Tok
A user on Tik Tok by the handle @huss.bey came out with a several-part series of videos explaining his personal interaction with James Charles back in August of 2020. Huss.Bey claims that he wanted to be friends with James Charles and was star struck when the influencer added him on Snapchat.
According to Huss.Bey, the two chatted for a few days, and then James asked him if he was gay. When he told James he was straight, he was ignored for a day or so. Huss.Bey claimed that he was fine with that because he knew that James was looking for a potential boyfriend, but then James Charles began texting him again to pressure him into experimenting with him. One video has James saying, “What are you worried for, though? It’s not like anyone is there if I want to just…suck your dick or something.”
Huss.Bey claims that he had to tell James Charles multiple times to stop and that he’s not interested in him sexually before James Charles cut contact with him entirely. Eventually, Huss.Bey messaged other creators about James, and claims that several other straight men had had similar experiences with James Charles trying to pressure them.
James responded to these videos with a tweet that reads, “You are so weird for this. An “expose” video because you’re mad I unadded you after months of not talking after you told me you were straight…ok”. James Charles deliberately missed the point and victimized himself, suggesting that these videos were just an angry retaliation and not genuine claims of sexual misconduct.
February 26th – James Charles Addresses Tik Tok Claims
In a tweet with an image of a statement written in the notes app on his phone, James Charles addresses a Tik Tok where a sixteen-year-old calls him a “groomer”. According to James, he was sexting a boy who (again, according to James) claimed to be eighteen when he was really sixteen. James claims that when he found out that the boy was sixteen, he ceased communication. James victimizes himself, even though he’s the one who solicited sex from a child.
February 27th – A Third Accuser
Just a day after James Charles’ tweet claiming that he didn’t intentionally flirt with someone underage, a seventeen-year-old came out with his experience with James in a Twitter thread. The boy claims that James—knowing he was underage—called the boy names like “babe” and “daddy” and became very sexually aggressive, demanding naked pictures and spamming his phone with video calls when he didn’t answer.
The 17-year-old said, “After he used me for his sexual pleasure […] he even screenshotted my photos without my permission and gave me attitude when I didn’t do what he wanted.”
February 28th – A Fourth Accuser
On February 28th, a fourth man expressed that James Charles victimized him. According to him, James Charles messaged him over a year ago, and they became online friends. After a few days of chatting, he became aggressive and demanding of sexually explicit content.
When he didn’t send James Charles the photos he requested, James started spamming his phone with tens of text messages, eventually questioning his confidence, saying, “Lmao, You not confident or something? Hello?”
James Charles kept harassing him over the phone, calling him many times unsolicited, and bullying him by questioning his confidence and motives. Eventually, this led to James Charles blocking him on Snapchat and Instagram when he didn’t get what he wanted. It is unclear as to whether this poster was underage or not at the time of this video.
March 30th – A Fifth Accuser
A sixteen-year-old boy going by the name Jake Cherry came out with screenshots on his Tik Tok showing James Charles had been flirting with him suggestively as well. When Cherry posted the Snapchats on his private story, James Charles became very aggressive and threatening. According to the screenshots, he said, “What the fuck is your problem […] posting screenshots of my snaps to you on your private story? I strongly recommend that you keep my name out of your mouth or we’re going to have a major problem.”
James Charles then accused Jake Cherry of lying about his age and deleting the messages: Jake Cherry maintains that he never lied about his age. Cherry then took his video with the evidence down, saying in a later comment that his parents made him remove the video because the police are now involved.
March 31st – A Sixth Accuser
Another boy on Tik Tok comes forward with more screenshots of inappropriate Snapchats sent from James Charles. The user alleges that these screenshots were taken when he was just sixteen and James Charles was well over the age of eighteen.
The now-deleted Tik Tok shares an array of sexually motivated Snapchats from James Charles, including one that tells the sixteen-year-old to “pick me up for some road head”, he also asked several times about his body hair and his personal grooming habits.
March 31st – Another Man Corroborates Allegations
On March 31st, another series of screenshots were posted by a Twitter user by the name @timmyturnerstwn. In the tweet, the man who is over eighteen and legally an adult posted pictures of a conversation he had with James Charles that was similar to the chats that James allegedly had with minors. The texts from James went into body hair once again and used similar language to the other screenshots.
These images are important—even if the man was of age—because it shows a pattern in sexual preference, James Charles’ personal fetishes, and how he speaks to men he’s interested in. It shows consistency and validity in the other screenshots that were sent to minors.
March 31st – Same Man Shares DMs from Friend who was Underage
On the same day, @Timmyturnerstwn shared screenshots that he claims are direct messages between himself and his friend. He claims that his friend—who was seventeen at the time of these messages—was victimized by James Charles.
In the messages, @Timmyturnerstwn suggests his friend make a Tik Tok sharing his allegations, but his friend refuses, saying, “I do not want to be famous for that, or known for that at all.”. This is common in circumstances of coming forward against people with fame, power, and money; many victims fear the unwanted attention and backlash from standing against someone with the amount of power that James Charles has. This could be potentially a seventh accuser in a span of a few days: the fifth of which to be underage at the time of the messages.
April 1st – A Fan Claims that James Charles Allegedly Bought his Nudes Several Times
On the same day that James Charles released his apology video, a fan (who is of age) posted a Tik Tok with screenshots alleging that James Charles paid for his naked photos and then became verbally abusive when asking for them. According to this fan, James called him names and was very aggressive when he felt he wasn’t in control, one screenshot has James allegedly saying “Shut up and send stuff and you’ll get money if you take good pics and videos.” To which the fan responded, “You’re being rude I’m sorry it’s a no go”. Showing that the way James was sexually degrading the fan was not consensual.
Although this fan was of an age at the time of exchanging money for nudes, the power dynamic between celebrity and his fans is unbalanced and manipulative. There is no excuse for abusive language and sexual degradation of those around you. This man would be the eighth alleged victim to speak out since January 25th.
April 2nd – A Fan Claims that James Charles Harassed Him for Nudes
Just a day after James Charles’ apology, another man came forward on Tik Tok with a video including more screenshots of James being inappropriate toward him over Snapchat and soliciting nudes several times quite aggressively, against the wishes of the victim.
According to the screenshots, James Charles sent Snapchats of his naked body, with captions that read “Your huge dick, let me see daddy”, and “All yours daddy, let me see more of u”. The Tik Tok user claims he told James he was straight and not interested, but he persisted.
Again, although this man wasn’t underage, unsolicited nude photos and sexts are harassment. It’s inappropriate and vulgar to send someone naked images that you haven’t been asked for. This man would be the ninth victim to come forward since January 25th.
April 3rd – Tenth Victim to Come Forward
On April 3rd, a Tik Tok user by the name of David Diaz came forward with a video allegedly showing more unwanted and unsolicited sexually charged snapchats from James Charles. Although the caption of the video says, “Uh Oh, I’m 18 tho” However, there is speculation as to this person’s age because his bio on his Tik Tok account reads “I’m 16 btw”.
Regardless of if he is of age or not, this is still sexual harassment if the sexts were unsolicited and this boy is straight. This would make him the tenth person to come forward and potentially the sixth underage victim to come forward since January 25th.
April 3rd – Youngest Victim to Date Allegation Video Resurfaces
On April 3rd, a since-deleted YouTube video resurfaced from July 2020, in which a boy who was fourteen years old at the time of the recording alleges that James Charles had solicited nude photos from him, even after the boy told him his age.
In the video clip, Ethan says, “I guess he was trying to get me into thinking that I was bisexual, or gay, or whatever you want to call it; he was asking me to send him nudes, he kept wanting me to go to LA, he kept sending me nudes. […] it made me feel super uncomfortable.” Ethan would be the eleventh victim to come forward and the seventh underage since January 25th; he’s also the youngest by far at just 14 when James Charles sent and solicited nudes.
April 3rd – Fans Accuse James Charles of Grooming Tik Tok Star
Fans and critics of James Charles pulled a video from July 21st, 2020, posted by popular Tik Tok star PJ Cool-Tomasi where James Charles can be seen in the background of the video (at least) half-naked. The date is significant here because this video was posted just nine days after PJ Cool-Tomasi turned eighteen, leading to speculations that James Charles had been grooming PJ to sleep with him once he turned eighteen.
Given the track record, it’s very unsettling that James Charles would be captured topless in the home of someone who is just over a week being of age after his pattern of soliciting from underage boys.
April 4th – More DMs
On April 4th, another Tik Tok user by the handle @Crawfishs posted a video showing screenshots that James Charles also tried to engage with him flirtatiously last July when he was just seventeen.
Although it was not sexually explicit like some of the other messages, the message read, “I saw you on my fyp and thought u were super handsome and just wanted to say hello”, followed by several images. It is unclear what the pictures were, but this is yet another instance of James Charles trying to engage flirtatiously with a minor.
April 4th – Alfie Templeman Tweet
On April 4th, a Twitter user by handle @blkgrlmagicc tweeted at famous English singer/songwriter Alfie Templeman “@alphietempleman wait did James Charles try to shoot his shot with you last year?” to which Alfie Templeman wrote back “Yeah” with a crying face emoji.
Alfie Templeman turned eighteen in January of this year, meaning when James Charles tried to “shoot his shot” with Alfie last year, Alfie was underage.
April 5th – Another Underage Victim
A Tik Tok account with the name Henry Lopez came forward on the fifth with a screen recording of his interaction with James Charles online. Lopez claims he was just sixteen and under the influence of marijuana. Although it is unclear what was allegedly sent back and forth between Henry Lopez and James Charles, it is heavily implied that it was most likely naked photos and sexts.
The caption on the video by Henry Lopez says: “omg I feel so embarrassed but at the time I was sixteen and under the influence of [leaf emojis meant to signify marijuana leaves] but he could have said stop I regret it so much.”
This caption was one of the harder things to take in a while reading all of these allegations because clearly, there is a lot of internalized guilt on the part of the victim. Even if Henry solicited James Charles, it’s James’s job as the adult and the celebrity to shut the interaction down, as a child cannot legally give their consent, nor should an adult be interested in a child’s naked photos.
April 5th – Fan Claims that James Stopped Talking to him When he Began to Grow Out His Facial Hair
On April 5th, another Tik Tok video came forward from user @Ryguy3303 where the user—a 21-year-old man—shows screenshots and screen recordings of his conversation with James Charles.
Apparently the interaction began normally (as they all do), and eventually devolved into James Charles demanding images and sexts, and speaking to RyGuy3303 disrespectfully. The Tik Tok user then claims that James Charles cut off contact completely when he started growing out his facial hair which made him look older.
In the video, he says, “I do want to say for the record that like, I was definitely into him: I was the one who duetted the video, I wanted to talk to him…but I changed my mind. Like, I just didn’t like the way he was speaking to me, like, demanding shit, controlling—I don’t know, it just didn’t vibe with me.”
He then posted another video where he has a screen recording allegedly showing James Charles sending him very aggressive and demanding messages over Snapchat and Instagram. The messages read “message me back on snap” and “NOW”.
April 10th – Another Underage Boy Comes Forward
On April 10th, yet another Tik Tok user going by the name of Luke Allman came forward alleging that he had exchanged sexts and naked pictures with James Charles at the age of sixteen. According to his screenshots, he clearly tells James he is sixteen- also claims that revealing his age was the first thing he did.
Allegedly, this did not stop James Charles, and according to Allman, the two shared several inappropriate texts. Although it is not yet proven, these images look very credible and legitimate, considering they follow the same pattern as all the other allegations, and he showed seemingly un-doctored video.
What Were the Warning Signs?
So obviously, that was a lot to take in. The allegations are in the tens, and as I write this, I can’t say that I’ve covered everything that has come out or will be coming out. Some of the allegations that I’ve listed above were posted up to a year ago but are just hitting the mainstream consciousness now. I would not be surprised if, by the time this article is edited and published that more allegations and more underage boys come forward: for every rat you see, there are ten you don’t, and in situations like this, allegations tend to leak through over the course of a few weeks, or months, or years. Once one person has the courage to come forward, they usually bring three or four more people with them.
So, we as a collective might be asking ourselves how this kind of thing happens. In the #MeToo era of feminism, we see a constant repetition of the story of someone rich, famous, and powerful using their platforms to harm others, either emotionally, physically, financially, or sexually. Many of these people who have been outed as abusers have many telltale warning signs and red flags, and James Charles is no different.
Here are a few of the red flags that I came across as I was researching these allegations.
April 2019 – Video with Jeff Wittek
In a collaboration video between James Charles and straight creator Jeff Wittek entitled “The Truth…My Crush Does My Make-up” from April 2019, James really shows his ass and flirtatiously jokes with Jeff about “turning out” straight men, meaning turning straight men gay. The dialogue from the clip that was circulating goes as follows:
Jeff: “So, after all this—I didn’t know much about you at this point—”
Jeff: “I was just joking around and stuff, but, you told me that you have turned out straight guys. Elaborate on that, because—you are a famous celebrity, and you do live in—”
James: “Thanks, Jeff.”
Jeff: “You do live in Hollywood,”
Jeff: “Where there’s a lot of guys who will be clout-chasers, is the new term that we’re using.”
Jeff: “So, do you think it was someone who was maybe looking for something in return from you?”
James: “Do you want my honest answer?”
James: “Okay, cool, let’s talk about it. […] Especially living in LA where everybody is a lot more open-minded, I’m thinking that honestly, like, the majority of guys are wanting to experiment.”
This clip is important because we see James Charles’s mindset that men can be persuaded into being sexually active with him; he recognizes that his power can make people do things that they normally wouldn’t. He assumes that everyone is interested in gay/same-sex sexual encounters under the surface.
July 2020 – implosive Interview “Absolute Youngest”
Recently, a clip from the 200th episode of Logan Paul’s podcast entitled ‘implosive’ featuring James Charles resurfaced. The clip from July 2020 has a 21-year-old James Charles speaking about his taste in men. He says, “So, the thing is for me, I’m 21 but I have the mentality of a 40-year-old. So, for me, I’m much more mentally and emotionally mature than a lot of people my age. I’m not physically attracted to older guys, which sucks. Like, I would date the absolute youngest like 18-19 that looks a little bit older.”
Not only does James Charles admit in this clip that he wants to date the “absolute youngest” guy possible, but it also shows that he thinks of himself as significantly more mature than an eighteen-year-old, creating even more of an uneven power dynamic.
July 2020 – implosive Interview: Dating High-Schoolers
Another clip from the same 200th episode interview with James Charles recently came to light when the first clip was exposed, where James Charles is talking about flying potential love interests out to LA. There are several issues with this statement, so I’ll write it out here, and then we’ll talk about it.
James Charles (who is twenty-one) says, “I talk to guys who live in different states and stuff, and I’m like ‘Hey, like why don’t you come visit?’ [and they say] ‘Well, I can’t afford a plane ticket.’ It’s like ‘Okay, well I can, so like, get on the plane.’ [and they say] ‘well, I just don’t really feel comfortable with that, but like, I love you and I really want to be together.” And I’m like ‘well, we can’t be together because you can’t afford a plane ticket, you’re probably still in high school or college—a senior in high school or in college, so either you accept the flight and realize that this is what I’m bringing to the relationship, so we can spend time together if you actually care about me, or we literally never meet because you can’t afford it.”
There are several issues with this statement, primarily dating a high-schooler when he’s twenty-one. I’m twenty-three, and I’m not far off from being twenty-one. I could not imagine hanging out with a high-schooler when I was twenty-one, much less being physically attracted to one.
We also see another clear example of an uneven power-dynamic, as James Charles is a multi-millionaire, and he’s speaking to someone who is eighteen years old and potentially still in high school. This person clearly would not have the money or the freedom that James Charles would, and James Charles says clearly that his money is what he’s bringing to the relationship.
We also see some emotional manipulation there because when the hypothetical high-schooler who James is talking to says he’s uncomfortable flying across the country, James says stuff like “if you actually care about me” and “we will literally never meet”. This also corroborates claims he’s demanding and rude to his potential suitors as he says stuff like “get on the plane”.
What’s Going to Happen?
When allegations like these arise, we want justice and retribution very wholeheartedly for a little while, and then as a collective, we lose interest and move on to the next thing. In a perfect world, we would see a proper investigation into these allegations, and if founded, James Charles would be convicted and prosecuted for these crimes. This is not unheard of; we do see celebrities and influencers face jail time; we do occasionally see convictions and punishments, but it’s not every time, and it can be rare depending on the person.
As of right now, we’ve seen James Charles face a few repercussions for his behavior; he’s been unfollowed by several celebrities on social media, some of his friends have come out to condemn his behavior and to distance themselves from him, he’s been dropped as the host of the YouTube original show Instant Influencer (though YouTube claims that the allegations are not the reason), and his best-selling eye-shadow collaboration with make-up company Morphe has been suspended, and the company made a statement that they do not support inappropriate online behavior, but his Morphe discount code still works on the website.
I know that this has been a lot to take in and trust me, I’m exhausted myself just gathering this information. I tried to touch on the most important issues, but there are literally hours of video, tweets, and testimonies to get through.
The best course of action as a consumer of social media is just to keep this conversation going. Learn, understand, share, and uplift the voices of the people who have been victimized. I hope that eventually, perpetrators of this sexual violence will be brought to justice and that more ethical people will hold positions of power, but it’s a day-to-day battle that we need to work toward; it won’t happen all at once. Keep up with the James Charles allegations going forward, don’t let this settle like a regular celebrity scandal: because it’s not.