The untold truth of Tati Westbrook

YouTuber Tati Westbrook was thrown into the spotlight after she posted a salacious, 43-minute video titled "Bye Sister" that slammed teenage beauty icon James Charles in May 2019. It was one of the rare times the YouTube beauty community slipped into mainstream news, and everyone seemed ready to dish the dirt and take a side in their feud. Heck, even CNN had an opinion. While we think we know who was in the wrong, there's one thing most of us probably don't know: who actually is Tati Westbrook? 

Beyond promoting her brand, Halo Beauty, and giving us almost daily makeup tutorials and product reviews, we haven't really heard a whole lot about this Internet star's life. According to Elle, Westbrook isn't just one of the original YouTube beauty gurus, she's also racked up more than 10 million followers since launching her GlamLifeGuru channel in 2011. But the 37-year-old vlogger had to work tooth-and-nail to build her empire of millions, which included some terrible odd jobs, a postponed wedding, and a healthy dose of controversy. This is the untold truth of Tati Westbrook.

Westbrook has experienced fertility issues

Before the James Charles drama took the Internet by storm, Tati Westbrook was already planning to take a break from YouTube. In a January 2019 video, the makeup guru opened up about why she was stepping back from the platform. The reason? She and her husband, James Westbrook, were trying to have a child while "actively pursuing fertility treatments." In addition to experiencing problems with fertility, Westbrook has suffered from endometriosis and "huge" inflammatory responses to "a lot of different things." This is why the social media star always stays on top of her health and gets blood work done about four times a year.

"I do have some fertility issues … I've never really gone in depth with that because, I mean, I don't know … when does that fit in? It kind of doesn't, but it has been like a deep pain in my soul that I have not been able to have children," Westbrook told her followers. She added, "As a woman, you feel like your body should be able to do this on its own, and it's always frustrated me that my body betrays me a lot." Westbrook went on to admit that the stress and anxiety surrounding her fertility issues had also caused her mini bouts of depression. While she decided to step back from YouTube to help ease her anxiety, she still planned to share part of her struggle on Snapchat.

She didn't grow up with money

Westbrook might be resting on a reported net worth of $6 million, but the star truly had to work for everything she has. The YouTuber didn't come from money, which is why she never went to college or beauty school: she just could never find the tuition cash after paying for rent, food, and clothes. At some points in her life, Westbrook didn't even have a car to go back and forth to work. 

While opening up about all of this in a 2016 video, the YouTube star revealed that she'd moved out on her own at the age of 18, but had only saved up a little bit of money and had no income. She was, in her words, "broke as a joke." At the time, she was driving a beat-up Jeep with no radio and used a boombox to listen to music. Oh, how the times have changed. "I've had every random job out there," Westbrook explained. "I have had to do things that I'm not really happy about to make ends meet. That sounded really sketch. Not sketchy … but I've had to do what I've had to do to pay rent and to support myself." Westbrook added, "I come from a family that is very loving, but we don't come from tons of money, and it's not like I could call home and be like, 'Hey, can you pay my rent?'"

Westbrook always knew she'd be famous

Though Westbrook didn't grow up with money, her family was extremely supportive of her dreams. The star, who grew up in Seattle, admitted in a 2016 clip that she thought she was going to be famous from the time that she was just three years old. At the time, her focus was on acting and she did musical theater and dance. However, it wasn't until she was "discovered" by a casting director at the age of 13 and moved out to Los Angeles with her mom that she realized acting might not be for her.

"My mom packed us all in a van, and my parents were going through a divorce, and we just kinda got out of there and moved to LA," Westbrook said. "So fast forward, you know I did a lot of acting in commercials and this and that, and then I kind of got burnt out on the whole thing. I don't know, I was homesick." She eventually left LA to live with her father in Seattle. Westbrook might not have grown up to become an actress as originally planned, but with more than 10 million YouTube subscribers, there's no doubt that she achieved her dreams of fame.

She has the most bizarre employment history

As previously mentioned, Tati Westbrook held down several different jobs before she landed on YouTube stardom. Unlike most of the platform's popular content creators, who started their channels in their late teens and early 20s, the 30-something YouTuber dove in a bit later in life … meaning she has a pretty lengthy employment history.

In her video titled "MY JOBS … Before YouTube," Westbrook opened up about the less-than-glamorous work she'd taken on before racking up millions of YouTube subscribers. These jobs included working at the GAP and Starbucks, as a perfume girl at a mall (you know, those women who stand in heels all day and spray you as you walk by?), and as a dog groomer (yes, she admittedly once expressed the anal glands of dogs all day). The Internet star was once even a bartender, which reportedly made her a lot of money. However, it was kind of a dangerous gig since she worked there alone at night and there wasn't a bouncer on duty. 

However, image consulting was the one job that kind of clicked with Westbrook and led her on her current path. According to MSN, she helped clients improve their image "through appearance, behavior and communication." She explained in her YouTube video, "That was kind of a little bit when the light bulb went off of, 'You know what, I want to do something bigger than this.'" That bigger thing, of course, was taking on YouTube.

She met her husband online

While the rest of us have been swiping endlessly in a sea of men who won't commit, Tati Westbrook somehow managed to find husband James online. What are the odds? Then again, what are the odds of becoming a famous YouTuber, too? (Seriously, could we have some of that good luck?) That said, the pair's first date was almost a complete disaster, which is pretty much par for the course for any date with someone you meet online. Tati went to the right restaurant chain, but accidentally showed up at the wrong location … and was livid that James was late. When she realized she was at the wrong place, she tried to cancel. However, fate didn't let things end there. 

"I said that if this didn't work out, I was taking a year hiatus from men because I had gone on so many bad Match.com dates, I was sick of it," Tati admitted to her husband in a 2012 video. "I was like, 'I'm done. I actually tried to cancel this date. I'm sorry. You seem like a nice guy, but whatever.' But you said the same thing at dinner. You're like, 'Yeah, if this doesn't go anywhere, I'm taking a break too.' And then you said, 'Wouldn't it be cool if this was it?' And I'm sitting across the table like, 'You're a freaking psycho.' But I liked you right away."

Who knew a bad date could change the course of someone's life?

Westbrook makes millions on YouTube

Let's not beat around the bush: Tati Westbrook has made a heck of a lot of money on YouTube. So much so that she even managed to be the sole investor in her company Halo Beauty. "I was able to do it on my own," she once said (via E! News). "It's shocking how money YouTubers can make."

It's not exactly clear just how much Westbrook has made on the platform, but it's definitely in the millions. The star averages 25 to 30 million views a month. According to Vlogger Gear, YouTube pays out around $600 to $7,000 per million views depending on the content quality. As one of the most popular beauty vloggers, Westbrook's payout is probably on the higher end of the spectrum, meaning she could make around $1 million a year. That's still not counting sponsored posts, brand partnerships, or the fact that YouTubers can disperse a number of ads within a single video. While trying to guess Westbrook's payout by looking at fellow YouTubers with similarly dedicated audiences, Cosmopolitan came to the conclusion that she probably makes around $9 million a year from her channel.

She cancelled her first wedding

While the Westbrooks got engaged in 2012, the pair went years without getting hitched. In fact, they pulled the plug on their wedding altogether in 2015, and naturally announced the cancellation — before they even told their family — on YouTube. "I found out that my very best friend from childhood was not going to be able to make the wedding, and it was just like she's the one person that I wanted there," the bride-to-be said at the time. "People keep dying, people keep having surgeries, people are in the hospital, people get pregnant."

Instead of their planned ceremony, the pair jokingly decided to elope — at least at the time. As we all know, they didn't actually end up eloping. Tati eventually had her Maui dream wedding in 2017, where fellow YouTuber-turned-foe James Charles did her bridal makeup. Their infamous feud has apparently made looking at the wedding photos pretty difficult for Tati Westbrook, according to Life & Style. But hey, at least her makeup looks great.

Tati and James almost broke up before getting hitched

Tati Westbrook and her husband, James, have been together for almost a decade. However, the star almost threw in the towel on their whole relationship before their wedding, at a time when she truly believed everything was falling apart. James had recently lost his mother and his best friend, who was meant to be his best man. As a result, he became "emotionally detached" and Tati struggled to cope. Thankfully, the pair went to therapy and sorted out their issues.

"I was dealing with all my stuff, and he was dealing with so much grief — the kind of grief that I can't even get into detail but it was unimaginable," Tati said in a 2019 video about her marriage. "And of course that affected him. So thank God for good therapy and thank God for a heart that wants to understand." The Westbrooks eventually ended up tying the knot in Maui, because that's what James' late mother had wanted.

She's got a thing for YouTube controversy

Westbrook just can't seem to escape that YouTube drama. Perhaps that's just the price of fame on the platform or maybe even the people with which she chooses to surround herself. Long before the James Charles controversy lit a fire across the Internet, the star was absolutely slammed for collaborating with Jeffree Star in 2017.

According to Revelist, fans thought Westbrook's collab meant she approved of Star's alleged past negative behavior, which included well-documented bouts of racism. For his part, Star gave a lengthy apology for everything in 2017 and has since slammed Tarte cosmetics for their lack of darker foundation shades. "I don't know who that person was," Star said of the matter on Youtube. "I know who I am today … but I do not know who that person was." Westbrook, of course, defended the pair's collaboration on Snapchat (via Revelist). Claiming people didn't know the real Star, she said, "What you see on Twitter and Snap doesn't always give you the full story."

Given this context, it makes sense that Star would fan the flame and support Westbrook during the James Charles scandal (even if he later admitted he handled the situation poorly). 

Even Halo Beauty's been controversial

Westbrook once again found herself in trouble in 2018 — but this time it was because of her actual company, not the company she keeps. The launch of her very first product for her Halo Beauty line became an absolute nightmare from the second it went live. According to Allure, Halo Beauty Hair, Skin, and Nails Booster — the supplement that's allegedly in direct competition with SugarBear Hair, and thus sparked that whole James Charles drama — included saw palmetto, a controversial ingredient that may potentially interfere with hormonal birth control. Of course, this didn't fly with Westbrook's audience, and the beauty guru took to Snapchat to defend herself.

"I feel very misunderstood. I hate that my character is being thrashed," she said at the time (via Revelist). "Saw palmetto is not going to get you pregnant. It's not going to make your birth control not work … I am working with the best physicians, the best scientists, the best nutritionists. I have a team. I have advisors. We have talked about this formula through and through to get to this point."

It should be noted that Allure also spoke to board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist Leah Millheiser, who said that saw palmetto does indeed have "estrogenic activity and may affect endogenous hormone levels." However, it seems as though more research needs to be performed in order to make any definitive conclusions.

She didn't always get along with her stepson

On the surface, it looks like Tati Westbrook has a really excellent relationship with her stepson, Taylor. He's even been featured on her channel, like the time he gave the makeup guru a makeover in this adorable video. She also pumped his Instagram account on Twitter to help get him more followers. It obviously worked because, at the time of this writing, he has over 125,000.

However, Westbrook admitted in a March 2019 video that things weren't always so rosy between the two, particularly at the beginning of her relationship with husband James. "There was a year where it was hard," she said. "It was like, 'Hi, I'm your dad's special friend.' [Taylor] was like 14 or 15 when I met him. He was a little pipsqueak, and he was a moody teenager, and he didn't want to talk to me, and I got a lot of one-word answers." She then shared some sage advice with her viewers, saying, "So to anyone that is navigating dating someone with kids: be patient. They'll open up when they're ready."

It's not just the lip gloss

Tati Westbrook is known as one of the most real beauty YouTubers by simply being the most real about … well, not being real. In a 2015 video, the starlet opened up about her adventures with plastic surgery. While she'd never gone under the knife in a way that required anesthesia, the beauty guru did admit to dabbling in fillers, which she called "the big-lipped elephant in the room."

"I do occasionally get my lips injected," Westbrook said. "Sometimes you guys notice, sometimes you do not. I recently tried something a little bit different and they are a little more voluminous. I tried Juvederm instead of Restylane." However, she was not there for the social media commentary, and added, "I do it because it makes me feel pretty. It's not permanent. It's not affecting my health in a negative way, and I like it. So, leave your hate. Whatever, that's fine." Westbrook also revealed that she wore hair extensions, enjoyed the odd spray tan, and donned fake eyelashes. But really, what beauty YouTuber doesn't?