The Cult of Mary Kay’s Guide For Targeting & Manipulating Women

Written by DK

No matter what type of personality you are, the Cult of Mary Kay has a script to use on you

For the last few years that my spouse was in Mary Kay, I became extremely suspicious of what I  began to refer to (and still do) as “The Cult.” Of course, this was before I discovered the true depths of the hold that The Cult had on her.

From the scripted sales pitch I would hear from the other room while she was “working the phones,” to the usage of words like “store” to describe the thousands of dollars of unsold stock in our house, the term “peeps” to describe the current or soon-to-be victims, or “investment” to describe the debt (at least what I knew about) she had racked up on “her business.”

If not a cult, what else would you consider an organization that causes a woman to abandon her children at night and on weekends in order to squander money; to shamelessly use others close to her and target anyone in her path for recruitment into The Cult; to waste her family’s resources; to knowingly deceive her friends and family (and even herself) into believing that she is successful–when, in fact, she is losing money by the thousands–and then to outright lie to and steal from her family?

While friends and colleagues have referred to it as something akin to an addiction (like crack cocaine or gambling), I have a hard time wrapping my head around any legitimate business that would create “addicts” out of women. This is why I still, to this day, consider Mary Kay a cult.

Not too long ago, as I got the mail one Saturday afternoon, I was surprised to see yet another copy of Applause magazine had arrived in our mailbox. [I was surprised because my spouse, I thought, had resigned from the Cult.] However, I soon realized that the Cult had not yet taken my spouse off their mailing list.

As I began walking toward the garbage can to throw the pink rag  into where it belonged, I started to thumb through it.

Within the pages of the October issue of Applause, the Cult of Mary Kay had a nicely crafted insert entitled “Be Your Own Success Story.”

The seven-page insert, as it turns out, is nothing more and nothing less than a guide on how to identify nine different personality types of women, what motivates them, and what lines to use to “navigate conversations” in order to manipulate them into the Cult of Mary Kay.

Here is just some of The Cult’s guide on how to target and manipulate women [Note: the bold emphasis is in the original document]:

If the Opportunity Fits

Introducing the Be Your Own Success Story. This fresh, exciting campaign and new marketing tools can help you navigate conversations so potential new team members see how the Mary Kay opportunity fits them. [Bold in the original.]

A little further down, The Cult highlights:

The new content is relatable and reflects who they are….

Payoff Potential

Once you know what appeals to her, you can pinpoint how a Mary Kay business will fit her perfectly.

This technique is often called ‘profiling.’

The Cult’s guide on identifying and luring women based on their personalities then gives specific examples.

Make note of how the Cult’s guide uses a sequence of identifying the person’s “feelings,” what motivates her, then manipulating [“navigating”] the conversation to appeal to that personality type.

MEET [the mobile entrepreneur]

Feels: “My business should be an extension of my life – not define the terms of how I live.”

Success means: “Flexibility, balance and mobile tools that fit in my 24/7 plugged-in lifestyle with the freedom to unplug.”

Consider mentioning: “You’ll love conducting your business on your terms. Mary Kay offers mobile and social tools to help you expand your business. Start your business on Facebook and send people to your Mary Kay Personal Web Site.”

And the Mary Kay opportunity offers me what I need to succeed.

Each personality type is given this type of treatment, followed by the mantra: And the Mary Kay opportunity offers me what I need to succeed.

Of course, in a poor economy, Mary Kay isn’t above preying on other people’s misfortunes by recruiting a spouse whose husband might be laid off…

MEET [the everyday hero]

Feels: “Now it’s up to me to provide for my family and to make ends meet while still being there for them.”

Success means: “Extra income and goals that will help me give my family a better life, along with flexibility and support.”

Consider mentioning: “You’ll love the potential earnings you can receive from your own Mary Kay business, while living a lifestyle loyal to your own priorities.”

And the Mary Kay opportunity offers me what I need to succeed.

Did you notice the word play in the above Consider mentioning statement? Mary Kay does not use the term “earn” here for a reason—which, to a listener, infers “work.” Instead, Mary Kay deliberately uses the term “receive” in the above sentence—which implies a gift. As though success is ‘given’ by Mary Kay.

MEET [the super mom]

Feels: “I can have the freedom to be there for my family when they need me and still provide all the little extras that bring them joy.”

Success means: “Freedom to set my own hours — to be there for my family and earn additional income to provide the extras for them.”

Consider mentioning: “Starting your own business can be as simple as living your own life. A Mary Kay business allows you to enjoy all that life has to offer with flexibility and hours just right for you.”

And the Mary Kay opportunity offers me what I need to succeed.

Preying upon mothers is one of the most insidious things about this guide. Besides the obvious point that, in order to make money in Mary Kay, mothers must be prepared to move up the pyramid, become a director and so on, nowhere is the target told that they have to attend weekly meetings, conference calls, as well as other events. How many Mary Kay children are left with sitters while their mothers go to “build their business” inside the Cult?

MEET [the second act]

Feels: “I’m ready to take charge. I’m driven and successful, and I’ve got the career history to prove it.”

Success means: “Using my skills to meet a new challenge on my own terms, using my passion to work as I choose.”

Consider mentioning: “Putting your business-planning skills to use as you see fit and earning up to 50 percent on what you sell makes good business sense! And with so many lives to touch, your ability to mentor other women will thrive.”

And the Mary Kay opportunity offers me what I need to succeed.

This is a simple play on a woman’s need to feel important and even more successful, while passing her knowledge to younger women.

MEET [the social network]

Feels: “The perfect business lets me spend more time with my girlfriends and helps me build new relationships too.”

Success means: “Being a great friend and confidante. It is girlfriend time, support and encouragement that help build confidence, and having fun along the way.”

Consider mentioning: “Share products you love — and build relationships. A Mary Kay business allows you to create a network of women and reasons to feel good, while being around friends gives you reasons to get glamorous.”

And the Mary Kay opportunity offers me what I need to succeed.

Mary Kay truly is a master at manipulating women. The Cult knows most women are social beings and thrive on being part of a social network.

MEET [the rising star]

Feels: “My moment in the spotlight is a reflection of my dedication to my goals and the ultimate reward for doing my personal best.”

Success means: “Recognition. I love earning amazing perks for my hard work and the admiration of people who are important to me.”

Consider mentioning: “Get the star treatment you deserve for your achievements. Earning eye-catching rewards like jewelry, the use of cars, trips, recognition at special events and more!”

And the Mary Kay Opportunity Offers Me What I Need to Succeed.

What person doesn’t feel underappreciated? Mothers (or fathers, for that matter) who don’t get enough praise for the dinner they cook, the work around the house? What woman doesn’t want to be held on a pedestal, or want baubles showered upon her (regardless if they are made in China or not)? Everyone wants to feels special. The Cult knows this, and uses it very effectively.

As I said at the beginning, for the last few years that my spouse was in Mary Kay, I had my suspicions about its cult-like tactics. The more I continue to learn about this organization on Pink Truth, as well as my own research, only serves to confirm what I suspected.

Mary Kay is nothing more than a cult that preys on women. The insert that arrived in my mailbox recently only helped to convince me of that fact.


  1. MLM Radar

    Mary Kay spread itself so thin being everything to everyone that ultimately it became nothing to anyone…

    Nothing except a money vacuum, that is. Just like liars throughout history, they’ll do anything, say anything, all of it meaningless, to get you to hand over your money.

    Directors, are you listening to what you’re saying to your recruits? Are you recruiting her because it’s what’s best for HER, or because you need to replace another “team member” (living and breathing is optional) to meet your ordering quota?

  2. raisinberry

    “Share products you love” for the Social Network type. Not “sell” products.

    Same idea as your “receive” example. This is an excellent example of Mary Kay’s bait and switch tactics, in that you are “WOOED” by an idea that all of this is essentially effortless, and then condemned and shunned when you report that the product that bought, was NOT the product that was sold to you!

    Now, you are an idiot…what did you think? you didn’t have to “work”? Now you are an “embezzler”, a “lazy looser”, you have analysis paralysis, you’re a negative nellie, you don’t “work your business”.

    In Mary Kay, the glorified and hyped potential and opportunity belongs to them, and the reality- the flailing about drowning neck deep in product and debt-belongs to you!

    If Mary Kay wanted successfully selling consultants, they would track sales. Period. They would limit consultantships to qualified sellers, who have proven skills. They would require yearly evaluations, of upline “educators” and work to advertise the consultant’s BUSINESS.

    Instead they throw a wide net, enticing any and everyone, as this article proves, because they make more money from the distributors than they would ever make from end users. Also, by running the Sorority Con, they can distract and confuse and prevent evaluation of the culture, to fully exploit a recruit’s resources.

    Truly, there isn’t a more despicable entity- by virtue of the fact that they PRETEND to be a woman’s best friend, while being her utter opposite.

    1. Honeybeige

      At the time I was indoctrinated many years ago, there was an alarm going off in my brain. Since I could not rationalize it at the time, I continued on. Now I know it was the “sorority con.”

  3. Karla

    I’m from a Latin country, and here the MK cult is really strong. Even when I’m not a consultant (I have another company to sell), I hear a lot this kind of scripts. I know a director who shares her own scripts and formats to other consultants, she has a YouTube channel and her motto is “don’t be realistic”. I like to be realistic because that prevents me to make wrong decisions with my money and not get a lot of inventory that could just stays there, with nothing yo do. I admite MK has -really little- good merchandise techniques, but I have heard a lot of brainwashing from this YouTube director. Her best tip is getting a loan to buy inventory, saying “the product sells itself, nothing will remain”, and then I read comments from girls who done this and have now a really heavy debt.

    I can’t lie, in a deep part of me I would like to sell MK products, but I’m really afraid to start being absorbed into the Cult.

    1. MLM Radar

      Why would you want to sell Mary Kay cosmetics?

      Let me say it a little differently: Why would you want to sell products that very few people want to buy? If you’re lucky – really lucky – you might find someone willing to pay enough to cover your expenses.

      I understand you want to sell something to earn money. But you won’t earn anything unless you sell products someone else wants to buy.

      1. raisinberry

        Well, I understand what Karla is saying. Mary Kay’s real admitted market is pacific rim and Latin countries (no longer in India). American women are pretty much burned up, except for the college aged, who will fall for the hype until they check the internet.

        The fact is, that multi-levels require you to recruit your own competition. To climb the career ladder, where “the real money is”, you have to burn through your city, snatching up any willing woman, in the direct act of closing down your own available market for retail sales to end users.
        Nobody does the math.

        1. Karla

          I think really serious about join at least jut as a consultant, without plans to become director or anything. But since I went to a skin care class, I felt like they pushes you not only to sign the contract, but to become director, win the pink car… and a long list of etcetera. I got a friend who I used to work in sales. She became consultant, actually she invited me to that class. For that, we’re two or three months she became consultant, and her director was pushing her to became a director too. I don’t want to fell that pressure, that’s why I like my actual company, there they don’t pushes us to get people in there, no. Here if we want to build a “work group”, fine. If we don’t, fine. I feel that is the correct way

  4. AppreciatingRealFriends

    A surprise recruiting attempt from someone I thought was my friend brought me to this site a few months ago. The more I read, the more I realize how many of our interactions were scripted and insincere. It has me doubting that we even had a real friendship. She told me I was “one of her closest friends” when she had me watch a video to get my “opinion.” I was honest about the video which I thought made MK seem like a cult. I was as nice as I could be, but I guess that was the end of our so-called friendship because we haven’t gotten together since. It has made me think back to the time we’ve spent together and the compliments she’s given me and doubt her sincerity completely. I wish I could help her, but I don’t think that’s possible. I feel like all of these tactics were tried on me.

  5. Pingback: No, We Don’t Want to Join Your Dopey Cult | Radio Free Athabasca

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