YouTube, snails and James Charles? Why TikTok is mad at Charli and Dixie D'Amelio

Christi Carras
·5 min read

The queen bee of TikTok, Charli D'Amelio, was about a million clicks away from her goal of a whopping 100 million followers on the Gen Z-facing platform.

But, to quote Emily Dickinson, "Fame is a fickle food."

The teen dance phenom has been hemorrhaging followers — nearly a million of them — on the popular social media app this week because of a recent video of her family sharing dinner with YouTube beauty star James Charles, which left fans of the D'Amelio sisters with a bad taste in their mouths.

Both Charli, 16, and her sister, Dixie, 19, are accused of disrespecting their private chef, who prepared and served them a multicourse meal for the first episode of "Dinner With the D'Amelios," a web series starring its titular family and a rotating guest.

First up was Charles, the controversial makeup artist and a close friend of the D'Amelio sisters, who joined them for Mediterranean salad and paella night, courtesy of chef Aaron May.

As May begins to preview the menu for the evening, a number of viewers immediately noticed Charli pulling faces instead of paying attention to his presentation.

Strike one.

"She was making faces while the chef was talking," one YouTube commenter wrote. "Idk if she was trying to be quirky or relatable but it didn't seem fun, it came across as plain rude."

But it was really Dixie who ended up stealing the show — and not in a good way. Shortly after the main course arrives, the camera zooms in on the elder D'Amelio sister gagging and picking at something on her plate.

"What is this?!" she barks at May, who explains that snail is "classic in paella" and is "actually an omen of good luck and fortune."

Rather than setting the snail aside and eating around it, Dixie proceeds to try it again, muttering, "Mmm, yummy," before dramatically spitting it out over the back of her chair and running outside to vomit — all in front of May. Cut to Charli, who asks for some "dino nuggets" — also in front of May.

"Honestly I feel bad for the chef bc Dixie was disgusted at the food when he obviously spent a lot of time and effort into it," one YouTuber wrote.

"The least she could do was say 'this isnt really my thing but thank you so much' or something but she decided to be a drama queen and throw up and just-please."

On Wednesday, Dixie addressed the backlash, claiming that the snail snafu was a prank staged by her team, who are aware she pukes "at the smell, thought or the taste of anything" and wanted to "get a reaction out of her."

"I'm so grateful for every single person that follows me, every single person I care about, every single person I work with, every single person who works with me because I'm just so grateful for all the opportunities I've had," she said on TikTok.

"I would never in any way want to be taken as disrespectful, especially from an out-of-context, 15-second clip. ... I love [Chef May], and I would never disrespect him in any way. Maybe don't judge someone's personality over a 15-second video."

As of Thursday afternoon, Dixie had 43.8 million followers on TikTok, down just a fraction from her prescandal total.

Charli has also responded to the criticism, which has taken a significant toll on her massive TikTok following. At press time, her tally of about 99.4 million had fallen to 98.5 million since "Dinner With the D'Amelios" premiered Wednesday.

In an Instagram video, Charli explained that their team had been encouraging Dixie off-camera to eat the snail and that May was "in on the joke." The "dino nuggets" comment was intended to make light of the fact that she, like her sister, is a "picky eater."

She added that she has been receiving "really, really messed-up messages" from people "telling me to hurt myself" and "blatantly disrespecting the fact that I'm still a human being."

"All of this is happening because of a misunderstanding?" a tearful Charli said Thursday. "I just feel like that's not OK, and if this is the community that I'm in and the community that I put myself in, I don't know that I want to do that anymore.

"And I know that this is gonna be a huge joke to whoever sees it, but at the end of the day, just be nice. Don't tell people to kill themselves. I feel like it's not that hard," she continued. "And you can say whatever. You can say I'm disrespectful. You can say I don't have basic human decency, but at the end of the day, I'm still a person no matter how many followers I have."

The social media sensation still boasts the most followers on the platform — a well-known stat that also came up during their dinner party gone wrong.

"It hasn't even been a year since I hit a million. I wish I had more time," Charli laments later in the episode. "'Cause imagine if I hit 100 mil a year after hitting a mil."

"Was the 95 not enough for you?" quips Charles, who has emerged the hero of this whole kerfuffle for checking the D'Amelio girls' behavior and modeling polite manners — despite having been at the center of many an internet scandal himself.

"This charli situation is NOT sitting right with me," the makeup artist tweeted Thursday in defense of his friend. "100M followers in one year & y'all expect her to know how to be a perfect role model? death threats because she's a picky eater & made a joke about a milestone? 30+ year olds dragging someone half their age? feels familiar."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.