The Mary Kay Guilt Trip

Written by sadnpink

Guilt and shame are two of the most powerful manipulative tools in the tool box of MLMs and especially Mary Kay. It is one reason so many women stay in the company and find it difficult to leave.

The thought of “who am I going to let down if I leave” can be strong enough to keep us in a holding pattern when we know we should go.

At the very beginning of my MK career, I came in to have fun and use the products. It was my third go round with MLM, but I thought Mary Kay was different. After all, I was told it was “dual marketing.” not multi-level marketing. I bought into that thinking even though my husband informed me that there was no difference. The “guilt trip” for me did not begin until I started to attend weekly meetings as an adoptee. It was there that I quickly learned about recognition. Those who did not bring guests, recruit someone, or order enough to be a star did not receive the time of day let alone recognition. So I jumped on the bandwagon to prove that I was no slacker.

As I moved up the ladder of success, I found more and more pressure beginning to be added to my plate at each conference I attended. The goals got tougher and things were said like: “God wants you to be great” or “God doesn’t give you a dream that He doesn’t give you the ability to achieve.” This played into my psyche since I am a Christian. Certainly I didn’t want to let God down.

So when I began to have difficulties as a Sales Director making production, I began to look at myself and say, “What’s wrong with me? I must be a bad leader. I don’t see anyone else struggling like this so it must be me.” I even began to question whether my spiritual life was okay because God was not blessing me the way I saw others blessed. Do you see how guilt can be destructive? I began to lose confidence in my ability as a leader, so I worked over time to prove I was successful. Little did I realize that it was a failed system – not me – that kept me from achieving my dreams.

A more subtle method of applying guilt comes through an hierarchy mentality in this company. You are NOBODY unless you are in the top ten as a consultant, red jacket or director. At each level, unless we stand out, we do not get the praise, recognition, or assistance we desire. Who wants to feel left out? Yet, all you have to do is go to seminar or some banquet and sit there all evening long while others are lauded and you don’t even get a nod. Somehow, I was told that in Mary Kay we were “praised” to success. Where was the praise and recognition for at least helping to support the whole pyramid? I had that thought from the time I was a consultant all the way through directorship.

Over and over again we are told to be a “team player”… meaning order up and churn women as recruits. If we fail to do this, we don’t get phone calls from our director or those upline from us. The silence is all the guilt we need. We are also told that this business is simple. Just book, coach, sell and recruit. If we do this consistently 3+3+3, we can write our own ticket to success. So the implied message is… if you cannot do this, it is your own fault. You didn’t work hard enough, or work the numbers enough. The reality is much different. 99% do not succeed in any MLM. 99% fail in Mary Kay. I didn’t know that or realize it so for a long time I kept running as hard as I could to make it work. I appeared outwardly successful but inside, the guilt was piling up.

When I finally could no longer take the emotional roller coaster, I resigned. However, I felt a lot of shame. I felt as though I had let a lot of people down. I think this is the reason that keeps many from leaving Mary Kay sooner. You see, I did not know that there were others out there asking themselves the same questions and dealing with guilt too. We are told not to be negative or to even talk with those who question. Yet that is mental suicide. Why would a smart woman not ask questions? We should and we must!

Let me close with this example. In a recent call to red jackets, a NSD told her people to get the prize booklet for the new quarter out and show it to her children. Let them see the beautiful pink piano for children in the flyer. Tell them that you are going to win this for them with your business. This will help you set a goal.

Can you see the manipulation in something like this? How would you feel if you didn’t order enough to get that prize for your child? How would your child feel? Things like this are said all the time in Mary Kay to make us dance to a certain tune. Guilt and shame often keep people trapped in a sick, dysfunctional relationship for decades. These two tools can also keep women from leaving a business that does not work. We need to recognize that we do not have to please or answer to any company or upline. The guilt and shame are false and based on greed, envy and power. None of these bring out the best in any of us. In a true business opportunity, we would be trained on how to sell the product, encouraged at every level and not made to feel spiritually inferior if we do not hit a goal.

This summer don’t take “the Mary Kay Guilt Trip” . Take a real vacation and leave Mary Kay behind!

7 thoughts on “The Mary Kay Guilt Trip”

  1. Can you see the manipulation in something like this? How would you feel if you didn’t order enough to get that prize for your child?

    A good demonstration lesson for children is to take them to a carnival, spend $20 and a lot of time to win a games booth prize (a stuffed animal), then let them handle the prize and see its low quality. Next, take them to a toy store and show them how that same $20 could have gotten two or three much nicer stuffed animals of their own choice.

    Once they understand that, explain that the pink piano in the catalog is exactly the same type of prize as the carny booth stuffed animal. It’s poor quality, it’s badly overpriced, and there’s no guarantee that the time you invest will win the prize.

  2. well, gals, guilt is a very powerful motivator. Personally I was guilted lots of time to “stretch for the team”. The worst one for me was when my SD invited my pastor to speak at my debut, rented the room, and invited all of my MK friends to my debut when I hadn’t even finished. The guilt and sense that I was disappointing everyone if I didn’t finish was overwhelming.

    Looking back now, I am ashamed that I let that guilt push me into finishing up my DIQ with my credit card. I can’t believe that I played into emotional abuse as easily as I did. Now, I have promised myself that I will never, ever support any MLM period, ever.

  3. I left MK as a single IBC and worked my but off… never worked… As of today, it was carrer conference in Montréal and saw a lot of pictures on Facebook…. Still as that powerfull idea that MAYBE I could’ve made it… And still asking why I wasn’t able to make it… The guilt trip is so strong… Still think, even after reading all the posts, that I did something wrong…

    1. Every one of those women at Career Conference was practicing Fake It Til You Make it, acting like they were in the pink to impress the other apparently successful fakers, while secretly knowing they were really in the red and panicking about their overdue credit card bills.

      So, in a sense, you DID make it. You WERE at least as successful as the rest of them. But you were honest enough to admit it. The only thing you did wrong was suppress your doubts temporarily and keep chasing what you knew wasn’t working.

      Welcome to the sunlight.

  4. It is scary how when a consultant is active in Mary Kay that she isn’t aware the guilt pressure tactics that are being used. It is when we finally decide to break free that their manipulation becomes obvious…

    Here is one that I heard very often, in relation to the weekly ‘success events’ which of course would carry over to Career Conference, etc:

    “Winners sit in front, sinners sit in back.”

    Not only is that a guilt tactic, it is an abuse of faith that also runs rampant in the Mary Kay world.

    And then there’s the line your director would lay on you about hearing her heart on something. The direct translation of “hear my heart” is if you do not listen and do not do what she says then not only are you unable to empathize, and are uncaring, but you also are not trying hard enough in your business.
    After leaving the MK world of guilt and pressure, that line has become my favorite 😉

    1. I never heard the winners and sinners comment. Good thing too cause I’d have gone off on someone over that!

  5. Extreme guilt trip in two words or less:
    I.E. If you are not being Go-give, you deserve to be shamed! Your are selfish and self-absorbed. You will NOT succeed in MK.
    IF you are Go-give, then, well, uh… You get attention and a pretty sparkly. So there.

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