Maybe it's the nature of influencer fame – the hyper-focus on social media, the constant struggle to hold on to the notoriously fickle commodity of eyes-on-content, the slew of other influencers trying to do exactly the same thing for exactly the same audience, maybe it's something to do with living and breathing makeup palettes and liquid lipstick debuts (we love our jobs a lot, but we're not curing cancer, here) or perhaps it's just some pre-holiday stress creeping up on everybody, but whatever the reason, the already famously theatrical community of high-profile beauty YouTubers spent the weekend going through some seriously middle-school levels of capital-D Drama. Seriously, everything going on right now rivals Andy Cohen's finest of shows.
Things kicked off on Saturday when beauty-industry-spoiler blogger Sophie Shad (aka TrendMood) kept up her longstanding tradition of leaking beauty collabs when she released the details on Laura Lee's upcoming makeup palette. Lee has spent a lot of her social-energy in recent days teasing her 1.9 million Instagram followers with swatches and promises of a big announcement to come on Sunday. Naturally, she was somewhat distressed to find that the big news of her latest collection — a collaboration with ColourPop benefiting a Los Angeles-based no-kill animal shelter – was already splashed all over TrendMood's social channels before she could make her promised announcement. Thunder officially stolen.
Of course, TrendMood has been a controversial presence in the digital beauty world for years for precisely this kind of behavior, routinely breaking news of major releases or collaborations or posting product shots and swatches before the brands themselves have the opportunity to do so. Complicating matters is the fact that Lee herself declined to send out products and PR info from her other launches to many big-name influencers, which has earned quite a few side-eyes among community at large.
Nonetheless, Lee has plenty of loyal fans, as well as those who sympathized with the frustration of having her launch spoiled by another blogger. Sunday, shortly after TrendMood posted, Twitter user @urbandoll tweeted, "i really just wish she would have let Laura announce her own collab," unintentionally kicking off a new layer of the saga when Jackie Aina, another well-known beauty vlogger, responded with a parasol's worth of her own shade.
"Not saying anyone deserves this but she is high key known for spilling EVERYONE's business, regardless of whether or not it's actually true. maybe when she works on that, others will extend the same courtesy to her," Aina wrote, following up with the clarification, "i was referring to laura and not trend mood last night when i wrote this, in case anyone thought otherwise." Shortly thereafter, and seemingly related, she added, "There should be room for everyone in this industry but sadly there isn't. there are some not so nice people taking up all the opportunities that should be going to the really genuine ones, and honestly after a while it gets tiring to see."
Lee, possibly in response (the timing is suspiciously close, but she doesn't mention Aina or her statements) tweeted, "Im not a perfect person but I'm striving to be the best person I can possibly be and I'm never gonna stop. I'm gonna do whatever it take to grow the best brand and be a great person and no one is gonna stop me or take that from me."
While fans of Lee have been quick to call out the whole incident as drama-mongering, this isn't even the first time Lee has been bogged down by callouts —in fact, it's not even the first time this level of drama has occurred in the last week.
While Lee is certainly a successful influencer in her own right with more than 320,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, she is perhaps best known in beauty circles for her connection to Manny "MannyMua" Gutierrez and the oft-problematic Jeffree Star – with the trio collaborating on lines, showing up on one another's YouTube channels and even vacationing together, leading them to be referred to in some quarters as a "throuple."
Over the last few years Star especially has become a divisive figure in the industry, both for his criticism of other beauty lines (especially those that come from other influencers) and for his history of using of racist language. He caused a stir this summer after posting that Kim Kardashian's KKW Beauty swatches "look like chalk," which devolved into a days-long back-and-forth between the two celebs over his past use of racial slurs. (Star posted an apology video for said language to his own YouTube channel earlier this year.) While these allegations are anything but new, some fans have accused both Gutierrez and Lee of attempting to distance themselves from Star — for these or other unknown reasons — in particular citing that neither blogger chose to publicly send Star well wishes on his birthday last week. (It's also worth noting that they haven't exactly spoken out against him in any direct terms, though.) There was enough backlash, in fact, that Gutierrez felt obligated to post "And for the record, laura and I both texted Jeffree happy birthday yesterday," while Lee took to Snapchat to tearfully vauge-blog about people "hoping that I'll shade."
Yes, there are literally arguments going on between real, adult human beings over whether two influencers wished their friend a happy birthday. Andy Cohen, if you're in the market for a new community to showcase in reality-show form, we've got a pitch for you.