In October, James Charles made news when he became the first male spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics. The 17-year-old teen caught the makeup company’s eye when his flawless yearbook photos went viral earlier in the year.
But now the out social media star is garnering attention for all the wrong reasons: In a tweet today, Charles wrote he was scared to be traveling to Africa because he was afraid he’d get Ebola.
The tweet has since been deleted, but we all know nothing on the Internet ever disappears forever.
— IG/SC: ParisHeelton (@ImTheBombDotCom) February 16, 2017
While Charles’ initial comment could be chalked up to youthful ignorance, when other Twitter users tried to point out there’s a hell of a lot more to Africa than Ebola, he became antagonistic.
As Affinity magazine points out, the World Health Organization declared the continent of Africa Ebola-free as of January 2016.
“It is 2017, and many white people still see Africa as a wide grassland filled with animals and naked people. What many people don’t realize is Africa is more than just ebola or animals or naked people,” writes Evelyn Atieno. “…He should have kept his ignorant tweet to himself. As a spokesperson for Covergirl, he has a MORAL obligation to uphold. By tweeting that, he is continuing to spread the ignorance people have about Africa.”
In fact, CoverGirl called Charles a role model when it announced his contract.
“All of our CoverGirls are role models and boundary breakers, fearlessly expressing themselves, standing up for what they believe, and redefining what it means to be beautiful. James Charles is no exception.”
Shortly after the Affinity article posted, Charles issued a blanket apology.
I am extremely sorry. Regardless of my intentions, words have consequences. I take full responsibility and will learn and do better.
— James Charles (@jamescharles) February 16, 2017