James Charles' underage sexting scandal lands makeup brand Morphe in hot water

James Charles' underage sexting scandal lands makeup brand Morphe in hot water
Influencer James Charles recently addressed allegations that he was having inappropriate conversations with minors on Snapchat.Presley Ann / Getty Images
  • James Charles recently addressed accusations that he had flirtatious conversations with minors on Snapchat.
  • He apologized for being 'reckless' and said he was unaware that they were underage when the interactions began.
  • Makeup brand Morphe is being criticized for not speaking out against Charles and continuing to promote his products.

Makeup brand Morphe is being called out by consumers and influencers for staying silent following a video from YouTube beauty guru James Charles, in which he addressed accusations that he's had sexual interactions with underage fans over Snapchat.

On Thursday April 1, Charles - who is one of the biggest beauty influencers in the world, with more than 25 million YouTube subscribers and 36 million TikTok followers - posted a video acknowledging that he had sexually charged conversations with two 16-year-old boys who he added on Snapchat. He said that at the time he believed them to be 18 and that he blocked them once he became aware of their age.

A number of similar accusations against Charles have been made in recent weeks, primarily in the form of viral TikTok videos posted by the boys who say they had flirtatious or sexual conversations with Charles. In his apology video, Charles said he had been "reckless" and that he needed to "take accountability for my actions and most importantly apologize to the people that were affected by them."
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Now, pressure is mounting on brands that have previously aligned themselves with Charles to speak out and distance themselves from him. Followers are singling out Morphe, a makeup company that has been closely associated with Charles since it released a hugely successful eyeshadow palette in collaboration with him in November 2018. Morphe has since launched a mini version of the palette, as well as two brush sets in collaboration with Charles. One of the brush collections, which is priced at $149, is currently sold out in the US; the rest of the products are still available to purchase on Morphe's website.

On Sunday, internet reporter Def Noodles, who has close to 100,000 Twitter followers and has amplified the accusers' stories since they began to emerge, tagged Morphe in a tweet which laid out the accusations against Charles.

It has now been retweeted and quote-tweeted more than 300 times. People asked why Charles still has a platform and encouraged others to stop supporting him. A number of users also tagged Morphe, as well as Nickelodeon, which produces the Kids Choice Awards, which recognized Charles this year. Some added that they will no longer support Morphe as a result of its silence, and drama YouTuber Truth Sleuth, who has more than 50,000 subscribers, is among those who have made videos calling the brand out.
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It follows similar criticism from Def Noodles over a post on Morphe's Instagram on Saturday 3 April which promoted the James Charles palette. Fellow influencer Trisha Paytas, who has used her platform of 1.4 million YouTube subscribers and 5.6 million TikTok followers to frequently criticize Charles, also tweeted to denounce Morphe, calling its continued association with Charles "embarrassing."

Morphe has yet to address the allegations against Charles or his statements in his apology video. On the brand's website, a page entitled Morphe x James Charles says: "Step into the crazy-colorful world of our Morphe Babe, James Charles. It's so, so good!""Morphe Babe" is the term used by the brand for loyal customers and influencers it works with. Morphe is known for being one of the first beauty brands to heavily work with online content creators, both in the form of product collaborations and also affiliate programs, which allow influencers to make a small percentage of the revenue of each sale which comes via their unique code. This form of monetization has been criticized for potentially encouraging influencers to promote brands they are affiliated with over other products.
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This is not the first time Morphe has found itself facing criticism for its links to controversial influencers. Just last year the brand cut ties with YouTuber Jeffree Star, whose makeup brand was sold in Morphe's stores, amid controversy following the release of his makeup collaboration with fellow YouTuber Shane Dawson. Dawson and Star - two of the biggest names on the platform with a combined YouTube following of more than 35 million people - became the focus of intense scrutiny last year, much of which focussed on Dawson's past behavior in YouTube videos, which ranged from using blackface to making jokes about pedophilia.

Insider has reached out to Morphe for comment on its ties to James Charles and has yet to hear back.

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