Social media influencer James Charles sparked a furious backlash on Instagram and YouTube after he shared a photo of himself pretending to be pregnant to support a friend, Laura Mellado, who is pregnant.
Charles, a female-identified makeup artist, titled his video “24 Hours Being PREGNANT!!”
He wrote in the caption: “I’m trying something I’ll never get to experience, being pregnant! My best friend Laura is pregnant with her second baby so she challenged me to be pregnant for 24 hours to see if I was strong enough to go through what she does!”
His 24 ours of “pregnancy” included being hooked up to a device that simulates pregnancy contractions.
Many called his antics “insensitive” after he wore a fake belly prosthetic and appeared before a backdrop of flowers, similar to a photo shoot by Beyonce.
Charles added a disclaimer to his video: “This video is not being made in any way, shape, or form to make fun of, to make light of pregnancies and the sensitivities and the complications that come around it.”
Charles, who has 52 million followers across 2 platforms, continued:
“It’s obviously such a beautiful, beautiful thing that women go through with their bodies and it takes a whole lot of strength as well. I know firsthand from watching Laura do it twice now. This is just a lighthearted video to see if I can last for 24 hours experiencing some of the ‘challenges’ that are even possible for me to actually experience today.”
One follower wrote: “I love you James. But be ready to expect backlash. This wasn’t a good move. It’s very insensitive & I’m generally not a sensitive person. Sorry bud. This ain’t right.”
Another wrote: “You have gone off the deep end.”
And a third wrote: “This is a big NO very insensitive and any backlash you get you deserve.”