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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Meredith Clark

Emma Chamberlain discusses backlash to claims she sold $10,000 personalised DMs

Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Emma Chamberlain has opened up about the challenges of internet stardom after facing a number of public scandals since her rise to YouTube fame.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the influencer spoke about becoming a teenage YouTube sensation at just 16 years old. Since then, Chamberlain has gone on to launch her own coffee company, host the Met Gala red carpet, become a Louis Vuitton ambassador, and have the third-most-listened-to podcast on Spotify.

However, the now 21-year-old’s rise to fame hasn’t been without a few scandals. Most recently, Chamberlain turned heads last month when fans noticed that her store appeared to be charging $10,000 for a personalised Instagram DM from the influencer.

“why is emma chamberlain charging 10K for an instagram DM this is wild,” read one viral tweet.

Chamberlain – who clarified at the time that the $10,000 personalised DM was a mistake – explained to Rolling Stone what her reaction to the scandal was after it took over the internet.

“I’ve had multiple falling-outs of grace,” she told the magazine. “That’s really hard for me, because if I intended to do something that was wrong or hurtful, f***ing go off, tell me what’s up. I’m not a perfect person. Have I f***ed up? Hell yes, I’ve f***ed up.”

The Chamberlain Coffee founder went on to explain how social media can have a negative effect on her mental health whenever her actions or words are “taken out of context”.

“But there were a lot of times when things that I did maybe got taken out of context, twisted into [their] own narrative. And you feel out of control of your identity. I’m being generous by saying this s*** has fucked with me on a mental level in so many ways,” she said.

Chamberlain – who boasts 16 million followers on Instagram – shared that her newfound internet fame has made her feel “incredibly accessible to anyone at any given moment”, which can often make it seem like she’s under a microscope.

“When I look at myself as an online object, in a literal way, I fully, immediately, severely dissociate as a response,” she admitted. “I’m constantly finding myself in an existential crisis, 24/7, all the time.”

In 2020, Chamberlain sparked backlash when she posted a photo of herself pulling her eyes back in a way that some people deemed as “insensitive” towards Asian people. The influencer apologised for the since-deleted photo, writing on Twitter: “It’s come to my attention that some thought I was posing in an insensitive way in my recent Instagram post. That was NOT my intention at all and I’m so sorry to those who were hurt by it.”

Shortly after her apology, Chamberlain sparked criticism once more when a resurfaced clip showed her wearing foundation noticeably darker than her skin tone, which some people interpreted as Blackface. She then took to Twitter again to say that she wanted to “give some context” to the resurfaced video, adding that she took it down from YouTube after receiving comments that it was “insensitive and hurtful”.

“I want to give some context, this was in a video where I was giving myself a makeover using dollar store products. I grabbed the wrong shade by accident and didn’t realise the shade was incorrect until I was already putting it on,” she said. “After this happened, I took steps to educate myself. I have learned so much over the past few years and I am so grateful for that. Thank you guys for helping me learn. I would never EVER do something intentionally to disrespect anyone. I am learning and growing every day, and I TRULY apologise.”

In March, a screenshot from Chamberlain’s website claimed to charge fans $10,000 for a “Personal Thank You Note From Emma in Instagram DM”. Customers also appeared to be given the option to pay for the personalised DM in 12 monthly installments of $902.58.

The outrageous pricing sparked fury online, prompting Chamberlain’s merchandise company – Cozack Inc – to call the claims totally “false and inaccurate” in a statement posted to her website.

“There have been false and inaccurate claims that Emma Chamberlain was offering DM’s in exchange for $10k,” the statement read. The company explained that they were testing a “prospective reward program” for Chamberlain’s merchandise without her knowledge. In doing so, they created a reward level “that was not intended to be active or purchased.”

“This was never made public, and certainly was never planned to be sold or purchased,” they added. “The test program was never discoverable on the main page or product listing site, which is another reason that Emma had no knowledge of this.”

Meanwhile, Chamberlain set the story straight when she said that she assume the $10,000 Instagram DM offer was actually an “online scam”.

“A few days I started seeing comments asking why I was selling a DM for $10k,” she told E! News last month. “I assumed this was an online scam, as I had never offered to sell a DM for any amount of money, let alone $10k. People were saying this was for sale on my merch site, so I checked the site to see if it had been hacked and couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. I immediately got in touch with my merch company Cozack who further investigated and put the site under construction while looking into the issue.”

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