The beauty influencer world isn't exactly free from drama. We're used to seeing headlines with some squabble involving Jeffree Starr or James Charles. But it seems their world has remained relatively safe from the cancel culture that's ravaged the mainstream entertainment industry.
Remember when J.K. Rowling got death threats and lost millions of fans when she liked the wrong tweet? Or when Kevin Hart lost deals and partnerships because people decided to dig up a decade-old tweet that was apparently homophobic? They even tried to recently cancel Tom Brady. (Spoiler alert: They failed, he won the Super Bowl.)
We’ve never seen this kind of incident take place in the beauty industry — until Amanda Ensing came along.
Amanda Ensing and Sephora
With robust 1.4 million followers on YouTube (which she’s been doing for nine years), Amanda has built a strong, loyal following of fans who love her makeup tutorials just as much as they love her “Iced Coffee & Inspiration” series. Amanda has another 1.4 million followers on Instagram, where she shares snippets of everything from her outfits to her home life with her husband and two dogs.
So when a third-party agency approached Amanda to partner with Sephora on a YouTube contract, she was excited about the prospect. After building a successful brand organically, it made sense to partner with a big name like Sephora and reach an even bigger audience.
However, Amanda noticed a clause in the contract that didn’t sit right with her — Sephora apparently had the right to walk away from the partnership if there were any serious issues with the beauty influencer.
“I raised some concerns,” Amanda said. “I told them I was conservative and Christian, and I asked if that would be a problem. They assured me that they don’t discriminate against religious or political beliefs.” The agency explained to her that this clause would only be used “in cases of extreme violence and hate speech.”
“They assured me that they don’t discriminate against religious or political beliefs.”
Following that, she felt comfortable moving forward with the contract. Amanda created the YouTube video, passed it along to Sephora, and they conveyed how much they and the audience loved it. But within a few hours, she was instructed to take down the video.
Why Did Sephora Try To Cancel Amanda?
Sephora gave no explanation as to why this video was no longer acceptable to their brand. They gave little to no response to Amanda’s inquiries. What she saw next on social media was a shock, to say the least.
Multiple users were condemning Sephora for partnering with Amanda. One commented, “Didn’t love Sephora before but after seeing you sponsor Amanda Ensing... I’m out.”
These weren’t random comments going unnoticed — Sephora’s official social media accounts were actually responding to these trolls and thanking them for letting them know. Their response: “Amanda Ensing recently shared content on social media that is not aligned with Sephora’s values around inclusivity.”
What were the non-inclusive comments Amanda made? That’s a question she’s still trying to get the answer to. She demanded more information from both the agency that secured her contract and Sephora. She asked which of her comments, videos, or posts incited violence or violated any values of inclusivity. Still to this day, she has not received a straight answer.
Amanda Isn't Backing Down
Amanda isn’t surprised that the beauty industry is trying to cancel her for her political views. She could feel this brewing for a long time. “I felt the increased pressure in the beauty space that you have to do this or say this or post this or you’re a racist,” she said. “Internally, it’s always been a battle.”
Even before Amanda came out and stated her religious and political views publicly, she had numerous trolls in her DMs trying to bully her into silence. After she posted some videos encouraging people to love their neighbor as they love themselves, to research information independently, and not exclusively vote for a candidate simply because your favorite celebrity or influencer is, she had angry people in her inbox berating her.
“I’m standing alone,” Amanda said, “They want you to feel isolated and alienated. But when this all happened with Sephora, that made me realize that I’m not truly alone.” Since the controversy blew up all over social media, she was contacted by multiple individuals who used to work for Sephora in some capacity. Every one of them shared stories of blatant prejudice or discrimination they experienced within the company — and it was solely directed at people who were openly conservative or Christian.
“I didn’t realize this was such a big problem,” Amanda shared with me. “I’m starting to learn the magnitude of how often this is happening with big companies.”
It Seems Like Conservative Influencers Are Selectively Punished
Amanda has also noticed that it’s exclusively the conservative influencers who continuously find themselves being canceled or fired. No matter how many other controversies she sees unfolding around her, the person in question never suffers the consequences, no matter how political or creepy they may get.
Amanda told me there was another big brand (she didn’t name names) that was negotiating a contract with her before Sephora came along. They suddenly backed out, citing some “concerning issues” about Amanda’s involvement with politics. They gave her a vague answer about how they didn’t want to get involved with anything political, no matter which side it was.
Next thing she knew, she was watching one of their contracted influencers parade around in a shirt that said “F*ck Trump.” Clearly this kind of political commentary didn’t concern them.
Even more than that, we’ve seen multiple influencers and celebrities who have been involved with or accused of sexual misconduct — yet they continue to go about their business as usual. Jeffree Starr is a great example. His close friend and previous music partner, Dahvie Vanity, is a known sexual predator with a long history of sexual misconduct related to preying on underaged fans. Jeffree himself was implicated in these allegations, but he never had to answer for them and he never experienced any cancellation from any of the major brands he was involved with.
In other words, it’s okay to be accused of being a predator (at the very least, being very close friends with a known predator), but it’s most certainly NOT okay to hold certain political views. Got it.
Amanda Ensing Refuses To Be Canceled
This has only fueled Amanda to fight back. While we watched celebrities like Kevin Hart and Jillian Michaels (who spoke out against normalizing and glorifying obesity as part of the body positivity movement) bow to the mob and profusely apologize, Amanda refuses to back down. She understands that this fight is bigger than her, bigger than Sephora, bigger than the beauty industry. This is about preserving the right to be a free, independent thinker in the United States — to freely be able to exercise our right to free speech and freedom of religion without losing our job or professional reputation.
This is about preserving the right to be a free, independent thinker in the United States.
The more Amanda has looked around her, the more she can see that this discrimination isn’t going anywhere. But that’s precisely why she’s not budging either. “I’ve been working on my company, and I’m excited to get it up and running. We can have our own beauty space that really is inclusive of everyone.”
Amanda encourages everyone to speak up and stand tall, no matter how scary it might seem at first. “The first time you speak up seems like the most terrifying and it takes all the courage you have to open your mouth for the first time,” she said. “But it gets easier. If you don’t speak up and defend your beliefs now, you may not be able to defend them later.”
It’s a relief to know there are women like Amanda Ensing taking charge against cancel culture. Although she initially lost followers when she first spoke out, she has received an overwhelming amount of support and new fans who are rallying behind her.
“I’m so thankful for all the support,” she gushed. “We’ve created a movement. We’re not going anywhere.”