Jeffree Star Cosmetics
Influencer, entrepreneur, and ex-Atlantic Records recording artist Jeffree Star (legally Jeffrey Lynn Steininger) launched his cosmetic line in 2014. With a steady increase in social media fame since MySpace in the mid-2000s, Star’s YouTube subscriber count tops 11m. His binary-breaking androgynous looks, DGAF attitude, flaunting wealth, and public confidence in his sexuality all create a compelling identity many (often young, white, and queer) look up to.
During a “comedy sketch” with a friend in the MySpace era (pre-2010), Star used disgusting, violent, anti-black language in AAVE.
In various short videos released from the same time period, he used horrifyingly similar, violent language. This content was shared widely across the internet in 2016 as his cosmetics brand and social media presence had skyrocketed.
A few weeks after the old videos resurfaced, he gave a half-hearted apology in summer 2016.
…without denouncing his racist views. As more old, problematic content popped up (like dressing up for Halloween with a friend in blackface), he continued to brush it off with apologies on social media saying it was all for shock value.
A very public falling out occurred between Star and his longtime ex-friend and professional collaborator, fellow problematic beauty icon Kat Von D. Kat’s July 2016 post specifically condemned Star’s racism and alleged Star never paid for graphic design work, though the latter was resolved.
In March 2017, Jeffree Star Cosmetics significantly deepened a model’s complexion for a product photoshoot. When Star received criticism for using blackface to sell a product, he defended the “creative choices” of the shoot. Even when choosing a trans woman of color as a model, Star’s actions were undeniably anti-black.
In June 2017, Star called successful black beauty YouTuber Jackie Aina (2m+ subscribers) an “irrelevant rat” after she said she wouldn’t purchase his products because of his anti-black past. (It was later allegedly revealed he privately used racially-charged words to describe Aina.)
Using hateful language specifically toward prominent black women beauty YouTubers was not new for Star:
3 days after the tweets about Aina blew up across the beauty community, Star finally released an apology video explaining away his old, admittedly bad behavior with his own fight with depression, bullying, and anger — that the racial hatred somehow wasn’t about race at all.
Star is known to use misogynist language among his race-fueled behavior. He’s made demonstrably misogynist and lesbophobic comments in music and beauty interviews, not just in the 2000s “comedy videos.”
The following summer, Shane Dawson, one of the most popular accounts on YouTube with 18m subscribers, released a multi-part docuseries on Star. The series attempt to lift the veil and provide a new perspective to all the controversy, though Star is only portrayed in a positive light. It kicked off dramageddon, which led more acquaintances and former friends to confirm and criticize Star’s past and current racism.
To promote his cosmetics brand for a holiday 2018 campaign, Star’s hair was styled in cornrows and box braids, classically Black styles.