Written by Maureen
About a month ago, my friend invited me to a “girls night” for pedicures… I questioned the invite because she has a ton of friends she is closer with, but being newer to the area with very few social opportunities I agreed to go. She is a stay at home mom and said she couldn’t trust her other mom friends to not bring kids, as it was strictly for adults. I figured I was the obvious choice because I have none. Okay, I can understand that.
She picked me up on that fateful night and we drove across town to a community building. We walked in to a roomful of polished women who greeted us saying they’ve been “waiting for their special guests of honor.” I looked at my friend who was absolutely horrified. She thought there would be a whole bunch of women… Not the case.
On the drive over she told me it was a Mary Kay event and she usually doesn’t go but her good friend from church–who is totally not pushy– Invited her so she felt like she *had* to go. Despite the fact that we were 20 minutes late, the ladies asked if we minded if they finished up their weekly meeting before getting started on the foot soaking… Of course we said they could wrap up.
So we sat and talked amongst ourselves. And that was when I realized this was all part of the plan. Since we weren’t “eavesdropping” on the meeting they switched to a more direct tactic where they brought us into their discussions of product, sales, asked what items we’d like to see in their giveaways, etc. we exchanged quiet looks of “We’re in this together, stay strong.”
They asked what we did for a living, she’s a SAHM, I work in retail. They loosely alluded that I could make more money “working for myself” than I ever do in retail, *and* I could set my own hours. I wasn’t lured. They were going after my friend, until she told the Barbie-esque director, “We’ve actually met before, my sister won a facial from you at a bridal show.” She told me on the way over that this director had pursued her HARD a few years back, constantly calling, never taking no for an answer, when all she and her sister were interested in was the free facial. After she made it apparent that she wasn’t recruited then and won’t be now, they focused their attention on me. I’m a pretty low maintenance chick, hair thrown in a bun, zero makeup… Not exactly a “Mary Kay Girl.” But my money’s green so I guess that makes me a viable option.
They acted SO interested in me; husband, my work, his work, even pushy questions about our income and vehicle situations. Then we played some fun games. Pull something out of your purse that starts with the given letter! Let me just say, I am not a girl’s girl. Even within this group I could feel the tension and fakeness that has driven me away from groups of female friends in the past. The one in the red jacket looked like this gathering was a TRUE waste of her time as she snuck an eye roll in between refreshing Facebook on her phone, the older consultant was leading the game and stumbling over the explanations of the company’s values, causing the director-zilla to lose all patience and jump in and run her over multiple times. They were like a bunch of turd cupcakes. Beautiful and sweet on the outside, but total crap beyond the frosting.
They called the letter C… I looked in my wallet, silently debating. “Should I really take them for a ride? Concealed carry permit. Or do I play it safe? Credit card.” I pulled out my credit card. I was in it to win it. I didn’t know what the prize was, but every time I beat my friend to the draw I got a raffle ticket. It didn’t matter if it was a coupon for a burrito at Taco Bell, I’m a competitive person.
Sidebar: I ended up winning, and let me tell you, a free burrito would have been a lot more useful than the weird color of discontinued lip gloss I was majestically presented with. My boss, who knows me very well, texted me during the event and asked if I was available to talk on the phone, I said, “I’m at a Mary Kay party, I’ll call you after.” She said, and I quote, “Alright you better cause I wanna hear how you got roped into THAT.”
After the “fun” had ended, the questions began. They attacked from all angles. I could pay off my student loans and have a “real career” with a “faith based company.” They asked about my religious affiliations… I told them I was Catholic, the director asked what church I went to, everyone else was Protestant so this was our “thing.” I picked out a random church from memory and crossed my fingers that she didn’t go there (I didn’t mention I wasn’t the most devout). She gushed about the “up and coming church that everybody who’s anybody” attends, while in my house we tend to spend our Sundays quietly praying to the holy mattress…
They went on and on about the pink Cadillac, which I have always found to be quite obnoxious… Then I dropped a bomb. This was my first Mary Kay event. “HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!” Well ladies, I wasn’t your target audience in high school, had no money in college (besides Mary Kay always seemed to be for “older” ladies), then afterwards we moved around so much I never got to know anybody well enough to get sucked in. Oh and did I mention I’m a fiscally responsible millennial who, in a sea of pampered chef, it works! And other MLMs polluting my Facebook newsfeed, have learned to sidestep many potential “great opportunities.”
It was horrible. The director said she used to be a teacher, earned her masters degree and loved the profession, but didn’t feel like the career path allowed her to be the wife and mother her family deserved. So she focused on growing her Mary Kay business and “Look at me now!” It should be noted that she profusely apologized for her young son being there, unfortunately his grandparents had the AUDACITY to make plans for the evening and she got “stuck” with him. God first family second, huh? She feverishly checked her phone most of the event to see “just exactly when the husband plans on picking him up.” What should also be noted is the fact that she didn’t just walk away from a successful career as a teacher, burn her bra and start her own “career” in Mary Kay. Her husband has a pretty impressive job which I’m sure funds much of her “business.”
Every polite decline I made had a back door. Every statement I made was used against me. They sure did turn my “Why’s” into “Why not’s,” but not in the way they intended. It was more like I was silently screaming “WHY are these robo-women NOT taking the hint?!” I filled out the feedback card, “On a scale of 1 to 10, no 5’s!!” How interested are you in being your own boss? ONE. How interested are you in coming together with a group of like-minded, strong women for coffee? It felt rude but ONE! I wrote down the phone number of a pizza joint from back home, just in case they STILL didn’t get the picture.
I gotta give it to my friend, her consultant friend was silent throughout. Didn’t push anything on me at all. I flipped through her book and bought a few products out of pity, which I still have yet to receive… She apologized for only bringing one look book and the LOOK the director gave at that announcement made me wanna BOOK it right outta there. So when I got home, I called my boss back, told her how they tried to get me to quit my job. She swore if I ever left her to sell that crap she would key every “stupid pink car” she ever came into contact with. It’s nice to be appreciated. She likened my experience to a scene out of Stepford Wives, where I was the unsuspecting Nicole Kidman. If nothing else we got a good laugh out of it.
Becoming a consultant was never an option for me. I remember how my mother would hide out in the kitty litter aisle of the grocery store because she saw one of her friends that sold Mary Kay and just didn’t feel like coming up with a reason to not host a party. When I got home I did a little Googling because I was interested on what info was out there, was there any research that said this was a sham or was everyone drinking the pink koolaid? That’s how I came across your site.
I knew MK was a pyramid scheme, but I didn’t know how deep it went. Women tens of thousands of dollars in debt, self esteem shattered by mafia tactics, relationships with friends, family members, even spouses destroyed. Moreover, I realized from reading the posts (see:lurking) that most likely my “friend” that brought me to the party was asked if she knew any “bright young women” interested in selling, and she picked me. That bothers me, the fake women with their fake success stories I can handle, that’s pretty easy to navigate. Being offered up as a sacrificial lamb by someone I had thought was my friend cuts way deeper than anything the “Kay Bots” could ever say. Since then she hasn’t really talked to me much, her consultant friend dropped MY order off at HER house about two weeks after I placed the order, she just doesn’t have the time to drive it .5 miles up the road to my house, and is never home for me to swing by to pick it up. So I made a pity purchase and I don’t even have anything to show for it!
I have really enjoyed reading these post, even if I cannot relate first hand. I have been fortunate enough to have not ever been sucked into a MLM. I wished I had read these stories sooner so I could fire back with all the wrong questions that would haunt them on the drive home, the debt that won’t stop, the inventory that won’t move… Living life in a pretty pink cloud of delusion constantly chasing a nonexistent “executive salary” they were promised.