Is The Youtube Beauty Community Cancelled?
Cosmopolitan - South Africa|April 2020
Shamed and stripped of their followings and sponsorship deals – what does it feel like to survive a career ‘cancellation’? Laura Capon opens up the murky world of YouTube beauty celebrities to find out
Laura Capon

I felt like I couldn’t breathe, it felt like I was drowning.’ In 2018 Manny Gutierrez (aka Manny MUA) had the kind of life that anyone with a YouTube account could only dream of. Five million subscribers, his own cosmetics line and a contract as Maybelline’s first-ever male ambassador. In just four years he went from working behind the MAC counter to being mobbed by fans at meet-and-greet appearances. Until, one day, he hastily ‘liked’ a tweet that would seal his fate.

Thinking nothing of it, he carried on about his day. A few hours later, however, his entire career, reputation and sanity imploded.

His YouTube peers were quick to capitalise on his ruin, uploading videos analysing every aspect of his fall from grace. ‘RIP Manny MUA’s career’; ‘Manny MUA exposed’; ‘Is Manny MUA a social climber?’. His previously loyal fans voted with their fingers, and his subscriber count plummeted drastically. He didn’t know it yet, but Manny MUA had faced the most modern-day of public reckonings: he’d been ‘cancelled’.

How did the YouTube beauty community go from everyday makeup tutorials to this century’s version of the Salem witch trials? And what does it say about both us – the viewers – and them – the stars – that cancel culture exists in the first place?

The age of innocence

I’ve followed beauty YouTubers since 2009 and it wasn’t always like this.

Online tutorials started on the platform in 2006, with makeup artist Adrienne K Nelson’s ‘Look hot in 5 minutes or less’ video. With zero commentary, questionable royalty-free music and not a ring light in sight, it was a world away from the YouTube productions of today.

One year later, the then-26-year-old Lauren Luke, aka Panacea81, became the first YouTuber to break out of the platform’s bubble. Her Geordie accent, relatable appearance and snoring pug made watching her recreate music-video looks, like Leona Lewis’s Bleeding Love, oddly comforting. By her own admission, Luke was painfully shy with no friends, but online she transformed from Josie Grossie to Regina George (but nicer). Soon the brand offers came rolling in. Nintendo turned her into a game, the BBC made a documentary about her and Barry M hired her to film tutorials, all eager to profit from her popularity. Me? I found this world via MUA Kandee Johnson, whose tutorials provided me with much-needed escapism in my early twenties.

By the time Manny Gutierrez joined the site in 2014, the road to becoming a full-time YouTuber had not only been paved, but paved with 24-carat gold.

The first time Gutierrez truly grasped his newfound star power was two years later, when he visited Texas for a new MAC collection launch. ‘There were hundreds of people chanting my name. It was such a crazy experience, I had to have security with me. That’s when I realised things had changed – it wasn’t me in my bedroom any more, it had gotten much bigger than that.’

As his subscriber count climbed into the millions, the paycheques and brand deals rolled in. He moved out of his family home in San Diego and bought a house in LA, along with a brand-new BMW i8 (which will set you back about R2 million). His celebrity and wealth enabled him to achieve his lifelong dream of immortalizing’ himself with his very own makeup line: Lunar Beauty. ‘I tested makeup for a living and I felt like I could make beautiful products.’ Then, in May 2018, his debut eye-shadow palette, Life’s A Drag, launched. As the positive reviews flooded in, it seemed that Gutierrez could do no wrong. He had scaled the mountain of fame and planted a glittering multicoloured flag. How was he to know, just three months later, it would be so unceremoniously torn down?

The thirst for views

With the beauty community becoming more saturated than the Instagram Lo-Fi filter, YouTubers started going to extreme measures to get views. While Logan Paul recklessly ‘vlogged’ a dead body in Japan’s famous ‘suicide forest’, beauty YouTubers left their bedrooms (and their relatable personalities) behind, in order to pull in the numbers they used to get with ease. ‘Testing sex-proof mascara with my boyfriend’; ‘Private jet tour’; ‘Zoo animals pick my makeup’; ‘Get ready with us in our helicopter’. From glam room tours to Cartier bracelet stacks, viewers became increasingly aware that they weren’t in Kansas any more. The very people who were once the antithesis of the celebrities they couldn’t relate to had changed beyond recognition. ‘We fall into what’s called the comparison trap,’ private therapist Amy Drake* tells me. ‘It becomes really difficult for us to watch others achieve a level of success that we will never be able to reach ourselves.’

As these displays of wealth left viewers detached and resentful towards the people they once saw as equals, new drama-centred YouTube channels rose up, holding the beauty community to account for their garish behaviour. Like vultures, they circled, waiting to feast on the fallout of each scandal, uploading videos like ‘Beauty gurus scamming their subscribers’ and ‘YouTubers [sic] shadiest moments’.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM COSMOPOLITAN - SOUTH AFRICAView All

Marc Buckner

The Bachelor SA Season 2’s star is here to make you swoon. Find out why boss babes are ready to risk it all for this adventurous dog lover.

1 min read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020

Is Rage Bait Okay?

It has become the new engagement strategy for many brands. Companies bait their followers into engaging with their content around topics that cause outrage. But is this okay? Social -media strategists Talya Goldberg and Jabulile Dlamini -Qwesha share their views.

2 mins read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020

Hold The Phone

Zozibini Tunzi is here to remind you all to Take. Up. Space. She’s rewriting the pageantry rulebook, and she wants you to join in (in a bath, wearing sparkly boots, because that’s just how we roll).

10 mins read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020

What Makes A Compulsive Liar?

We all do it. Tell those lit t le white lies to ourselves, and others. But what about those for whom lying is a way of life? Catriona Harvey-Jenner investigates the rise of a new kind of scammer.

10 mins read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020

How To Get Sh*t Done

Calling all procrastinators: sometimes getting started on a new project or goal can be the hardest part. Here’s how to stop putting it off and actually press go

5 mins read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020

How To Tell It Like It Is *And Finally Get A Promotion*

Receiving constructive criticism on your work can be terrifying. But do it right and it can be a career game-changer.

5 mins read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020

I Tested Positive For The Alzheimer's Gene At 26 Years Old

A DNA testing kit is like a crystal ball, but what if you don’t like what you see?

3 mins read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020

Is Cardio A Scam? And 7 Other Not-stupid Questions About Fitness Things

Thanks for calling 0800 -WTF- Is -This

3 mins read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020

For Those Times When You're Like, ‘I Love You, But You're Annoying...'

Coupledom can be hard!

5 mins read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020

Basically No-One Has A 28-Day Menstrual Cycle

Brought to you by: the idea of a ‘normal’ period is a lie

2 mins read
Cosmopolitan - South Africa
May 2020
RELATED STORIES

MIKE FARRINGTON

Woodworker, content creator; a lesson in contradictions

5 mins read
Woodcraft Magazine
February - March 2021

how to hit the reset button

When emotions are spiraling out of control, it’s time to go within and meditate.

4 mins read
Transformation Magazine
January 2021

2021 : A GUITAR ODYSSEY

SIX SUCCESSFUL GUITARISTS FROM COMPLETELY DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS TACKLE THE STATE OF GUITAR IN 2021, THE REPERCUSSIONS OF THE DIGITAL UNIVERSE, THE FUTURE OF GUITAR HEROES, HOW TO MAINTAIN ONE’S PASSION AND UNIQUE VOICE AMID THE CACOPHONY, LIVING IN THE PAST, MAGIC KNOBS AND MORE

10+ mins read
Guitar World
February 2021

GMAIL, YOUTUBE DOWN BRIEFLY AS GOOGLE SUFFERS BRIEF OUTAGE

Google users in the U.S., Europe, India and other parts of the world were briefly unable to access their Gmail accounts, watch YouTube videos or get to their online documents during an outage this Monday.

1 min read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #477

Baboucarr Faal

Charity Builds for The Gambia

4 mins read
Popular Woodworking
February 2021

Stream From a Birdbox With a Pi

YOU’LL NEED THIS - A RASPBERRY PI & A COMPATIBLE IR CAMERA

7 mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2020

More Skill Adds Up To More Muskies

Just like a golfer must practice often with a variety of clubs performing a wide range of shots on a vast array of terrains, so must the musky angler cast with a wide selection of lures at various spots.

2 mins read
Musky Hunter
December 2020/January 2021

Something's coming

So, what’s “this thing of ours”?

4 mins read
Stereophile
December 2020

Woodworking Accountant

An interview with furniture maker Peter Griffin

2 mins read
Popular Woodworking
December 2020

DID SOCIAL MEDIA ACTUALLY COUNTER ELECTION MISINFORMATION?

Ahead of the election, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube promised to clamp down on election misinformation, including unsubstantiated charges of fraud and premature declarations of victory by candidates. And they mostly did just that — though not without a few hiccups.

5 mins read
Techlife News
November 07, 2020