This is going to be a rather long post, but let me give you the TL:DR up front:
As of July 2020, I have decided that I will no longer be reviewing Jeffree Star Cosmetics products on my website, the World of Champagne, or my YouTube channel. I am not disposing of my products, as that kind of waste is not something I support, but I will not be featuring them on my channel. I may occasionally use a product I already own in a Face Friday post if I don’t have a viable product alternative available for the look I want to create, but my goal moving forward is to have little to no presence for Jeffree Star Cosmetics on this site or on my YouTube channel. Any post or video that does feature a JSC product in any capacity will note that inclusion and include a link to this post.
I don’t believe in “cancel culture” for a lot of reasons, and this position may evolve over time depending on new information, changes of behavior, or any other reason – this is my space on the interwebs and I’ve always pretty much run it how I see fit – but I’m just done. Maybe for a while, maybe forever, I don’t know. But I have love for makeup, I have love for the beauty space on the internet, and I’m done with providing free promotion for a brand and a brand owner who brings so much toxicity to our communities.
Alright, now let’s break some things down. Everything in this post is my opinion and is my interpretation of the information publicly available; nothing here is stated as fact, except for the fact of how I feel and the decisions I am making as a content creator. I’m going to do this sort of “Q&A” style to make it a little easier to get through, provide clearer divisions between ideas, and because otherwise it would seem like I’m writing a manifesto…and manifestos are creepy.
So why are you making this decision not to support JSC now?
I came to this decision after Tati Westbrook released her video called “Breaking My Silence” where she gave her version and interpretation about what happened during “Dramageddon 2.0” in 2019, claiming that many of the events surrounding that were orchestrated by Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson. I’ve never really believed that Jeffree Star was a great person, but I did see what I felt was a change in his pattern of behavior (which I’ll talk about more in a bit) such that I felt comfortable still supporting his brand. I was never in the “separate the person from the products” camp, but I did feel, based on the information and perspectives I had at the time, that Jeffree Star was making positive changes in addressing his history of racism. Tati’s video exposed how masterfully manipulative Jeffree Star is. I’m not saying that he hasn’t made some positive changes, and no one knows what he truly believes except for Jeffree himself, but what I feel after viewing Tati’s video is that the major change it seems that Jeffree Star has made in his life is getting better at managing his public perception. I think you can see this best in how Jeffree and Shane reacted to Tati’s video: Shane immediately went on IG Live and started ranting about Tati, speaking without thinking, and his fiancé posted nasty tweets on Twitter. Jeffree disappeared from social media entirely.
Was it just Tati’s video that convinced you to make this decision?
Tati’s video was a big part of it, but the other key piece was the reaction to Tati’s video. There has been so much vileness and nastiness that has emerged in response to Tati’s video, and it disgusts me. I find stan culture pretty gross, and this situation has done nothing to change my mind. So many people have accused Tati of being manipulative in her video, much of it because of the emotion that she showed. JenLuvsReviews said in a recent Live Chat that she would rather someone give an apology in a way that feels authentic to them than to have “rules” for how apology videos should go. I agree with this wholeheartedly. I bristle any time someone says that it’s “inappropriate” or “manipulative” to cry in an apology video. Besides the obvious sexism (the most common way that women are dismissed in almost every context of their lives is by being labeled irrational or emotional, and there is a long history of using display of emotions to invalidate women and their struggles and challenges), Tati is talking about some very serious things in her video: being a survivor of sexual assault, being manipulated and gaslit by people she thought were friends, and fearing for her personal safety (given threats that were made after her “Bye Sister” video). If someone came to you in your personal life and told you a story like that, and they started to cry, would your first response be “By crying you are trying to manipulate me.” If you do, I think you’re a monster. I don’t care if Tati is a public figure, I don’t care if you think her vitamin business is whack, that’s not a decent, human response to someone else’s pain. I definitely think that Tati is a smart woman, and I think that she’s maybe not as wide-eyed and innocent as she would like us to believe. But I also know that I’ve been watching Tati for a long time and she never really had any drama until she started associating with Jeffree Star, and I don’t think that anyone has a right to dismiss her story just because they are a fan of a different creator or because they don’t like the story she has to tell. You can take the information she presents and do with it as you please. YOU get to decide what place her story has in YOUR life, but you don’t get to invalidate her story entirely because you don’t like it, or like her, or like women in general…whatever it is.
But what about Jeffree’s history of racism?
This is a very complicated topic, and I have done a lot of thinking about this over the years. I have never been, nor will I ever be, someone who says that someone’s past doesn’t matter. I think it’s a part of who they are and how they present themselves in the world – but it’s only a part. I judge people based on patterns of behavior. If someone did something 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago – that’s good information to have, and it shouldn’t be ignored, but my next question would be, “Ok, and what are they doing now?” I believe that people can change and evolve – I know that I have over the years, and with growth and experience, it’s possible to change patterns of behavior.
Robin DiAngela, author of White Fragility, gave a talk at a coporate event for the company where I work (I would link it, but it’s hosted on an internal site that is not publicly accessible) where she talked about anti-racism, and how one of the things that is fundamental to successful anti-racist work is to disconnect the idea that “good people” can’t be racist. We’ve created a cultural belief that being racist automatically makes you a “bad person.” Therefore, if you think of yourself as a “good person,” then by default you can’t be racist, right? In order to successfully unlearn our own racist beliefs and patterns, we have to interrogate and dismantle that belief.
I’ve written about this before, but I don’t believe there are good or bad people. We are all just people, and we are constantly making decisions. Those decisions can be good, or bad, or a mixture of both, but they do not define us as either good or bad people. Some people make bad decisions over, and over, and over, and over, and when people show you that they are deeply committed to bad decisions, I use that to judge their character. However, I fully believe that people can actively choose to start making better decisions. Making one good decision after a history of bad decisions does not mean that you are somehow absolved of all of those past decisions. It just means that you’ve made a change in that scenario. So how do you move forward? Do you keep making good decisions, or do you revert to the bad decisions. That is basically how I look at people’s behavior when deciding if I want them in my life in any capacity. I don’t think about good people or bad people (because I fundamentally do not believe that those things exist) but I look at patterns of behavior and where your behavior is trending: are you making more good decisions or more bad decisions? Do I see growth?
I brought up Robin DiAngelo because I also believe the opposite of what she is saying to be possible: people who are thought of as “good” people by themselves or others can still be racist, but on the flip side of that I believe that someone can be making progress in eliminating racist behaviors and beliefs from their life while not necessarily being a “good” person. That is absolutely how I thought about Jeffree Star before Tati’s video: although he is still a polarizing and often controversial person on the internet, I did feel like the pattern of behavior had shifted. In videos from more than a decade ago, he was shown walking down the street yelling the n-word at someone, and making a tasteless “joke” about throwing battery acid on someone’s face to lighten their complexion. That pattern of behavior evolved into making nasty comments about rivals in the beauty space (more on that below), abusing commenters on his social media posts (some of whom were adoring fans), and basically being an entitled, arrogant prick. It’s not a cute look, to be sure, but arrogant and entitled is not the same as racist. I felt like I saw a change in his behavior…and to some extent, I still believe that.
But what about his comments about MakeupShalya and Jackie Aina?
First, his beef with Shayla. A lot of people have said that Jeffree Star calling MakeupShayla a “rat” was racist. I’m not going to tell people who believe that, that they are wrong. I will however say that this is open to some interpretation. On the one hand, there is some connection between “rat” and “hoodrat” that has racist connotations, but “rat” also has the connotation of the animal as vermin, an infestation, a pest. That’s certainly derogatory, and clearly it was meant to be derogatory, but it doesn’t have the same racist connotation. And to me, when I look at that situation as a whole, I see two creators with big egos sparring, calling each other irrelevant, fighting over “territory” in the beauty space. That fight, in my interpretation, was about ego and entitlement, and that ego and entitlement is the pattern of behavior that, to me, dominates Jeffree’s public persona since the launch of his makeup brand. I didn’t necessarily think it was very mature or respectable to have these sort of public confrontations with rivals, but it wasn’t the same as the more virulent racism of those old Myspace videos. You don’t have to agree with me, but I’m laying this out so you can understand my thought process and how it has evolved.
The Jackie Aina situation is different. At the time, I didn’t know that Jeffree had called Jackie a “gorilla” specifically. I had stopped watching drama channels by that point, and the beauty channels that I watched referenced a conflict between the two but didn’t give the particulars. I had seen Jackie’s anti-haul where she just flat out said that she would not support his entire brand, so I was not surprised when I heard that he had fired back at her. I will admit that I should have probably dug into that to find out exactly what was said, but I was looking at his more recent pattern of behavior, and I assumed that it was more of the same ego and entitlement that I saw in his conflicts with other creators like I outlined above with MakeupShayla. I am well aware of the long history of equating black people with apes, gorillas, and monkeys, all the way back to the beginnings of slavery in this country, and I would have felt different about this situation had I been aware. Having said that, I do still feel like that comment to Jackie is not the same caliber of aggressive racism that was shown earlier in his life.
I also accepted that his apology video about his racist past was genuine. I realize that as a white person, it wasn’t really my apology to accept in the first place, except as far as it concerned my willingness to still shop from his brand, consume his content, etc. Just like with Tati’s recent video or any other apology video, there is no consensus on how to respond or react – every person has to decide how to react to it, whether to accept the apology or not, or how it will affect their behavior going forward. For me, that apology combined with the changes I saw in Jeffree’s pattern of behavior were enough that I still felt comfortable purchasing from the brand, and reviewing the products on my website or using them on my channel.
So…what’s changed? What about Tati’s video is making you change your mind?
The reason why Tati’s video has changed my mind is because she outlines the ways in which she believes Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson manipulated her, and orchestrated a really horrific attack on his rival, James Charles. After watching her video, I now have to question how much of this change that I’ve seen in Jeffree’s pattern of behavior is true, genuine change, and how much of it is manipulation. I will never really know, and neither will you. We can get on the internet and say “This is true!” or “That is true!” but at the end of the day we can’t possibly know everything about this situation. I now have much bigger doubts than I had before, and the story that Tati tells is very troubling. This is much different than the situation with MakeupShayla. I’ve heard some people try to say that it’s only different because Shayla is a black woman and James is a white gay man, but I respectfully disagree. The fight with MakeupShayla was a collection of catty IG Live videos and nasty tweets going back and forth, and Shayla gave as good as she got. They both just bad-mouthed each other and called each other irrelevant, and people decided based on that public behavior whether to support Jeffree, Shayla, or just throw up their hands and walk away. The same thing with the beef with Jackie Aina: the fighting was public, through videos and tweets and social media blocking. This was not public, and it was much more insidious, and the potential repercussions were much larger. I have been the victim of that sort of manipulation and abusive behavior, and it’s nowhere near the same thing as having a catfight in some Instagram posts.
You’re talking a lot about Jeffree Star, but what about Shane Dawson?
I haven’t really mentioned Shane Dawson because there’s not really much to say in terms of changes to my website or channel. I was never really a fan of Shane’s content. First of all, let’s stop calling them “documentaries.” They are glorified vlogs, and his constant jump cuts, pointless dramatization of every single thing, and the Blair Witch-esque filming style, constantly zooming in and out, have never appealed to me. I watched part of his series with Bunny, because I like her, and I watched a little bit of his video with Eugenia Cooney. I didn’t finish either one. I didn’t watch any of the series with Jeffree Star, except for a few clips that I saw when I was at Angie’s house and she had it playing (she watched the whole thing). I haven’t been very interested in Jeffree’s more recent YouTube content, since he seems to have shifted the focus from makeup to constant flexing of cars and expensive fashion and his mansions, and I wasn’t interested in seeing Shane document more of the flex culture lifestyle that I already wasn’t watching on Jeffree’s channel. And the moment I heard that there was a makeup collab between the two, I knew that we were basically watching a dramatized promo video for his new collection. I thought that a 9-hour “infomercial” was too big to sustain itself, even for these two massive egos, and I was not at all surprised when Shane announced that he was ending the series early. I don’t follow Shane on anything, I don’t watch his content, and the only Shane-related items I own are the two collab palettes and a green pig mirror. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t feel I need to say much about removing Shane Dawson from my life because he was never really there in the first place.
So what about the Jeffree Star Cosmetics products that you already own?
I’m keeping them. I’ve always disliked people who try to project their feelings about a brand owner onto the brand. Whatever you feel about Jeffree Star as a person or as a public figure, that does nothing to negate the quality of his products. I personally love his eyeshadow formula, and I think his other products are pretty solid as well. I am no longer going to be purchasing and reviewing new products for my website or channel, and I’m not going to feature the products I already have (with a couple of small exceptions that I will outline in the next question). I don’t believe in being wasteful, so I would never just throw the products out. Not only is that not environmentally conscious, it’s stupid – JSC already has my money for those products, so there is no reason that I shouldn’t use them. There are plenty of contexts in my life (drag shows, photo shoots, convention appearances) where I can use makeup and not have to talk about what it is or promote the products themselves. People just see the finished look. That’s where I am going to focus my use of those products moving forward.
Does that mean we will never again see a single Jeffree Star product on your website or your YouTube channel?
Ahh, Millennials and Zoomers really do love their absolutes, don’t they? No, I am not saying that you will never again see a JSC product on my website or channel. I’m making this decision with the information and the perspective that I have right now, in this moment. Is it possible that some new information might surface that will change my mind? Yes. Is it likely? No, but possible. I’m a “never say never” kind of bish.
What’s more likely is that I may be creating a Face Friday look, for example, and not have a suitable alternative for a product, so I use something that I have in my collection. I do not anticipate this happening often. For eyeshadow, I don’t anticipate it ever happening, frankly. I own a bazillion eyeshadow palettes, and while I like the formulas and the color stories of my JSC palettes, I can easily find alternatives in my collection. I own a ton of highlighters, so in most cases I should be able to dupe those out. But I can imagine a situation where I need a very specific kind of look or finish or whatever, and I might reach for a JSC product. I won’t be repurchasing the products, but as I work to use them up I may utilize something to get the look I want to create.
Moving forward, if there is a JSC product featured in a video or post, I will be sure to mention my stance on the brand and provide a link back to this post. In the case of my Face Friday posts, I will also not be linking back to the JSC website if a product is used. None of my links are affiliated and don’t generate any revenue, but I still want to minimize any promotion. Again, the best scenario is to eliminate using the products in any sort of public way, but if I can’t avoid it, or I make the decision not to for a specific reason, I will provide clarification as to why and link to this post.
What about the JSC mirrors?
What’s most likely to pop up in a video is one of the JSC hand mirrors. I will admit, I’ve had a small obsession with these mirrors. I own over 20 of them, and I use them a lot when I’m getting ready. Now, you might be thinking, “But isn’t that the easiest thing to eliminate from your routine?” and, in a way, you’d be right. Moving forward, you won’t see any unaltered JSC mirrors on my channel.
The reason why I’m including this question is because I have quite a few of the mirrors that my friend Angie has “blinged” out for me. They represent an additional investment of money and time beyond the purchase of the mirror, and I appreciate the work that she’s done with them. I want to show them off, not to promote the JSC brand, but to feature her talent and creativity. In fact, before all of this went down I was planning to film a video showing off all of the blinged out mirrors she has created for me. Obviously I have taken that off the filming list, but I still love the mirrors and I’m still very grateful for the work she put into them. Just like with any of the cosmetic products, if a video does feature one of the blinged out mirrors, I will be sure to include a link back to this post in the description box with a statement.
What about your previous JSC-related content?
We just can’t escape the scorched earth mentality, can we? Some people will not be truly satisfied unless I scrub any mention of JSC from my website and channel, regardless of the impact that might have on me. And maybe it’s the salty Capricorn in me, but to those people I just say, “Bye then!” I am a whole person, and if you are willing to dismiss me wholesale because I’m not willing to delete a bunch of old content that I worked really hard on, then I have just as many thoughts on the quality of your character as you do on mine.
Let me break it down for you:
- I have purchased every JSC product that I own, and that I have reviewed on my website or featured in a video on my channel. JSC already has that money, and taking down those pieces of content will do nothing to change that.
- Those pieces of content represent substantial amounts of labor and time. Swatching, testing, creating looks, writing the posts, filming videos, the upload process – all of that is time that has already been invested in the creation of content. I can decide to change how I use my time moving forward, but that time was still invested in these pieces of content. I work a full time job that has nothing to do with my content creation (except for financing it!) so I take my investment of time and effort very seriously.
- In terms of the content itself, I stand behind everything I’ve written. My reviews have never been about the owner of the company or the company itself, but on the quality of the products. My thoughts on the company and the brand owner have changed; my thoughts on the products themselves have not. If I had posted pieces of content that were about how great and wonderful I felt Jeffree Star was, I would definitely consider taking it down. That’s not the kind of content I create.
Having said all of that, I will be going back into my archives and including a statement at the top of every post about my current stance on featuring the brand, and providing a link to this post. For any videos that feature Jeffree Star products, I will edit the description box that includes a statement and a link to this post. This will take a bit of time to complete (again, all of this is done in my “off work” hours, and I have quite a bit of stuff to go through) but I am committed to getting that updated as soon as possible. I will be including the statement and link to this post in every post that is about JSC products, but I can’t guarantee that I will get every post where I mention Jeffree Star Cosmetics. I use his products a lot, and I often use them as a touchpoint for comparison when reviewing other products. If there is a post that you feel needs to be addressed, you can always send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will take a look as soon as I can.
I hope this helps you understand my evolution in thinking about Jeffree Star Cosmetics, and why I’ve decided to no longer feature them on my website or on my YouTube channel. I’m not saying you have to agree with me, and I’m not telling you how to feel, either positively or negatively, about the brand. I’m always open to questions or discussion, even debate, but trolling is not welcome – if you’re not able to engage in civil dialogue with people you disagree with, then you deserve any friction you get in return. I’m simply giving my perspective, and setting the expectation for how I’m going to be running my platforms moving forward.