Should we give problematic influencers a second chance?

After the so-called ‘return’ of Jeffree Star, should problematic influencers keep their platforms?

Samantha Seidu
22nd February 2023
Image Credit: Instagram @jeffreestar
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve all seen the rather entertaining fallout of ‘Mascara-gate’, after TikTok beauty guru Mikayla Nogueira was caught out adding false lashes whilst advertising a mascara.

Amidst all the controversy, many beauty influencers began to try this mascara to see what it was really like without the lashes, and this included the very controversial Jeffree Star. His return to makeup reviewing received a lot of mixed opinions, with some praising his trustworthy reviews whilst others criticised his highly problematic past. So will all of this, the question now arises: has Jeffree Star changed? Even though he is a reliable source for makeup reviews, should we still refer to him? Do problematic influencers deserve a second chance?

I won’t go into full detail of every scandal he’s been in or we will be here for some time, but just know that they were more than enough to get rid of his platform entirely

The answer to all of these questions, unfortunately, are not as black and white as one might think. There are always many layers when it comes to separating the art from the artist or cancelling them for good with no room for a redemption arc. The first thing we have to assess when we consider all these, is what exactly gave the influencer the ‘problematic’ label. In the case of Jeffree Star, he has quite the resume of problematic behaviour including racism, bullying, making violent threats, use of Nazi imagery and the infamous collaboration with Shane Dawson and falling out with James Charles and Tati Westbrook. I won’t go into full detail of every scandal he’s been in or we will be here for some time, but just know that they were more than enough to get rid of his platform entirely.

Image: Instagram @mikaylajmakeup

Despite this, we do have to give credit where credit is due - although he is an incredibly controversial figure, Jeffree Star is a talented makeup artist, a successful beauty guru and businessman, with several collaborations and his own brand, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, to his name. On top of this, we cannot deny that his reviews were incredibly truthful and blunt, which is what every consumer needs in the age of influencer advertising and monetisation. Can we really overlook his shady past, or at least separate his talents from him as a person?

The answer to this is highly subjective. Of course, there is always room for growth, and when you mess up it shouldn’t have to be the ‘be all and end all’ of your career. Of course, none of us are perfect and we should be given a second chance. But when you are a repeat offender, constantly apologising but repeating the same bad behaviour that landed you in trouble, it may be safe to assume that any kind of change might not be happening soon. This is very much the case for Jeffree Star, and when we also look back at the extent of his ‘offences’, they are definitely enough for him to not be allowed the level of influence he previously had. Whilst it is a shame that it is like this, there are plenty of other influencers who are equally as talented and honest as he is (minus the racism and bullying).

We cannot deny that his reviews were incredibly truthful and blunt, which is what every consumer needs in the age of influencer advertising and monetisation

So, do problematic influencers deserve a second chance? It depends, there are many factors to this. Does Jeffree Star deserve another chance? I would personally say that he doesn’t since he has had many chances to redeem himself. That, however, might not stop you from watching his content. It also did not stop me from finding his response to Mikayla Nogueira incredibly hilarious.

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