Peer Pressure and Guilt in Mary Kay

Written by Marcy

After my stint in Mary Kay and two other MLMs, I have come to the conclusion that many people stay because of two factors: peer pressure and guilt.

We come into this new “business opportunity” all excited about a new venture with limitless possibilities. This new endeavor will give us a chance to stay at home and have more family time. Plus, we will be helping others to develop a business of their own. It gives us a good feeling that we are doing something positive with our time and energy.

Our uplines are there to help us and the company seems rock solid (after all, it’s been around for more than 50 years), so we believe we have made a wise investment for the future. We are welcomed so sincerely, and we start making friends with others who have the same dream and goal.

However, as we get down the road, whether we are a consultant or a director, we start to encounter some bumps in the road. We had been warned by our upline that this might happen and not to be discouraged. After all, we are told that God would never lead us into this opportunity unless He planned to use us. As a result, we keep plugging along even though the money is not coming in the way we had been told it would. After all, everyone else around us appears to be happy and prosperous. Little do we know (because no one is allowed to talk about it… that would be negative) that others are running into the same problems.

By attending the countless meetings, conferences and national conventions, we continue the indoctrination process. We see and hear so many heart wrenching stories about how women overcame terrible circumstances to reach the top, so we tell ourselves that if they can do it we can too. In addition, there is abundant recognition at each of these events and when our name is called to stand or receive our $2.50 bracelet for spending over $2400 of our hard earned dollars, we feel good inside as we hear the applause from our peers.

As doubts continue to mount in relation to the indebtedness and lack of success we are meeting, we call our upline as we have been encouraged to do. We express these concerns and are told to just keep working because it will turn around. After all, Mary Kay (or…you fill in the MLM name), is a numbers game. You just have to keep meeting new people all the time.

Since the person above us has been successful, we believe she knows what she is talking about. Therefore, we dismiss our concerns and keep trying to be a winner not a whiner. On unit or area conference calls we hear the same message and are asked to be a “team” player. If we let the team down, our unit or area will pay a heavy price. But what about us? Our credit cards are getting loaded, we have no family time, and we haven’t made any serious money yet!

The peer pressure is there to conform and the guilt keeps us locked into a scam that parades itself as a legitimate business opportunity. We don’t want to leave in some cases because we have led others into this company. What would they think? How can we abandon them? We also don’t want to let others down when we promised that we would be a leader. Haven’t we been told that the only losers are the ones that quit?

Mary Kay and MLMs in general have been likened to cults and other mind bending groups because they work on the basis of peer pressure and guilt. We are constantly being told at events what books to read, videos to watch, and scripts to follow. We are also told who to hang around with. If anyone is negative or if they have left the group, we are not to spend time with them. I witnessed this firsthand when I left MK. Even those I thought were friends would not have contact with me. No one called me, wrote to me or responded after I sent them a note.

Many of us stay because we think, “Where else can I go? What other skills do I have to offer?” We have believed the press that we don’t think for ourselves any longer.

I have a suggestion. It is time to declare our independence from guilt trips and from peer pressure. We need to take back faith in our abilities and our own good judgment. If our bank account is in the red, we do not need an accountant to tell us it is time to close up shop and move on. We need to make an executive decision to face reality and quit worrying about what other people think or will say. So what!!!!???

They do not pay our bills, care for our family, or live where we live.

When I made my decision to leave, there were those who tried to convince me to stay and those who made me feel like I was letting others down. However, I knew it was the right move. I had been allowing my life to be controlled by what others thought and my own need for recognition. Since that time, I have come to know the real joy in being my own person again. Now it’s your turn. What is holding you back? Guilt? Peer pressure? Take your life back and with it your money as well. There is no pot at the end of an MLM.

2 Comments

  1. Great piece! Gives a very clear picture of how the psychology of conformity and deference to “authority” are used to change behavior. Very few MKult victims know this is what is actually going on, it’s been taught this way down through the levels for decades, so it’s “just the way it’s done”.

    cf. Solomon Asch, Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo… and Jeff Bridges!

  2. Char

    This article made me think of something some women face. The similarities are laid out in this article:
    http://msmagazine.com/blog/2016/05/11/8-steps-that-explain-why-women-stay-in-abusive-relationships/

    Step 1: Assault on Identity
    Step 2: Establishment of Guilt
    Step 3: Self-Betrayal
    Step 4: Breaking Point
    Step 5: Leniency and Opportunity
    Step 6: Compulsion to Confess
    Step 7: The Channeling of Guilt
    Step 8: Releasing of Guilt, Logical Dishonoring

    It cannot be stated enough. Mary Kay isn’t a good thing gone wrong, or actions done poorly by consultants that make it not work. The business model MK Corporate uses is a pyramid scheme, thus it is rotten at it’s core.

    Consultants need to stop enabling them. Customers need to quit buying their products. You are fooling yourself if you think you are doing something noble. They are abusers, and you are helping them abuse others, and yourself, if you stay.

    A quote from the article:

    “There is hope. Abuse thrives only in silence. If you are healing from an abusive relationship, know the most important thing to do is forgive yourself. If you find yourself in this situation, please seek support. An extremely effective way to get out of the darkness of guilt and shame is by shining a light on it. Start talking about it, don’t keep the feelings inside. Shame can only survive in darkness.”

    Thank you Marcy for shining a light.

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