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These past couple of weeks have been hectic for the beauty community on YouTube and Twitter alike. Between Tati Westbrook, James Charles, Jeffree Star, and countless others all speaking up about the issue at hand, it can get a bit overwhelming. It can be hard to keep track of whose side to be on, when there seems to be new information and receipts coming out every single day. I think that this situation is actively demonstrating the effects of cancel culture on our opinions and on how we treat those who have made mistakes, and that things are never as simple as they may seem.
If you have spent as much time on the internet as I have, you may have noticed a recent trend: cancel culture. This harmful trend presents the idea that once someone has made a mistake, especially those in the public eye, like James Charles or Tati Westbrook, they cannot redeem themselves or be forgiven. In other words, they are “canceled.” This is a problem not only for those directly affected by it, but it’s a problem for us as the audience. When you have the belief that people are not allowed to make mistakes, you are setting unrealistic expectations for those around you. People are not perfect and they never will be. Every single person in the world is going to mess up, sometimes big. And that’s okay.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should excuse any kind of behavior and I’m not saying that we should never call anyone out for their problematic behavior. We most definitely should do this. We should call people out and tell them why they are wrong, but don’t write them off and say there is no hope for them to change or grow in the future. We should allow people to make mistakes, to learn, and to grow into smarter, better people. This attitude that the minute someone makes a mistake, they’re done for is so harmful, and it makes me wonder if we set the same kind of unrealistic expectations for ourselves.
Is it possible that “cancel culture” is a reflection of our beliefs about ourselves? Many of us hold ourselves to very high standards, sometimes even unachievable standards. I know first hand how disastrous this can be for your mental health. When you expect perfection from yourself or anyone else, you are always going to be let down. Because, no matter how hard we try, no matter how educated or “woke” you are, no matter what you do or say, you will make mistakes and you will have to learn from them. Influencers and celebrities are no different than us, they are human beings. They’re going to fall on their face sometimes, and I think it’s up to us to not push them back down; to show some compassion. One day, we could very well be in their shoes and we will want forgiveness, so why should we deny it to them?
Another thing that bothers me about “cancel culture” is that we don’t have all of the facts, so I don’t think we are qualified to speak on the situation. James Charles, for example, just posted a video today clarifying everything that has happened with evidence. And people are flocking to him almost as quickly as they left. So, wait until you have the full story. Wait until you have heard every side, because you never know what the truth is or what information may have been twisted. I hope we can all learn how to judge more carefully, and how to forgive people who have made mistakes when they have proven that they have changed.