Mary Kay Ash’s Fabricated Image

Written by Raisinberry

When she stepped out of the chariot, onto the Seminar stage at the 30th Anniversary of Mary Kay Cosmetics, I burst into tears. My eyes were captivated to that stage as thousands of women stood in one giant roar of applause and adoration. And for some reason, I was moved to tears and cheers. I was swept away.

It was my first Seminar. It was too much. It took sensory overload to a new level. I was drawn in and enticed by the love this woman was shown as if everyone in the audience personally knew her, or knew something that I didn’t know. Looking down the row, all cheeks glistened as mine did…we were all one in this grand emotional appreciation fest, tied to all Mary Kay represented.

Something deep in me was touched. Some kind of longing unearthed. I wanted to matter this much. I wanted to be a part of this sisterhood of safety, where no one would ever do wrong, or steal from one another, or lie or cheat. We were now a part of the most honorable and upright women on earth. We live the golden rule. We were ANTI-corporate America. We were the Pink Bubble where the best of the best, the most noble and most courageous support each other in a society of right. And the stories about Mary Kay Ash and Seminar and becoming a National just reinforced this cocoon being woven around me.

It was her. Everything that a young woman with my needs and with my world view would respond to was all embodied in Mary Kay Ash. She worked hard. She trained men to do a job that ultimately made them her bosses -the outrage! Her courage! She marched in and quit when not appreciated for who she was and what she brought to the table. She was a visionary. She was a survivor. She kept her promises. She always did the right thing. She was funny, and self effacing. She was a rock and pressed on in extreme heartache…no pity parties for her.

She listened. She cared. She learned the lessons of her life and determined to make a better life for others. She was perfect.

She was perfect.

If someone were to invent a role model that would reach down deep and answer every female disappointed heart, every longing of the feminine soul…this would be it. The deep longing of us all, as females, is to matter, and be cared for, and loved by our families…appreciated for who we are and what we contribute. Our inner struggle and desire is to become that quality woman who finally is recognized for all her gifts. All of this was embodied in the face of Mary Kay. She faced the unbelievers, the naysayers, the Goliaths and she won! She holds our face in her small hands and she whispers, “You can do it.” She is the caring mother we never had, the Grandmother who believes in us, the Aunt who knows us better than we know ourselves. To the degree that any of those ladies were missing in our lives, Mary Kay the living entity filled those needs.

Many ex career path consultants on Pink Truth describe a painful break from this company, (especially experienced by those who have many years invested), like it was a walking away from a mythical womb. A hole we had plugged by the Mary Kay Dream, bursts open again when facing the reality that very little of what we were told was true.

It isn’t likely that the version of Mary Kay being sold to past and future generations of Seminar attendees is anything close to authentic. Mary Kay’s image was crafted, according to John Rochon, former MK president. We placed our hope in something that was too perfect to be believed. She was a woman, with many limitations. She didn’t invent a “mechanism” to repair the souls and minds and hearts of women. She started a company to prosper herself and her family. She was successful. And when it became clear that the “Mary Kay message” of faith first, family next and career third resonated with a good amount of women wanting the healing of God in their lives, and the appreciation and respect of their families, and the significance of building something of their own, the formula was in place. We answered the call. This was way bigger than makeup.

Those of our readers who are grieving their association with Mary Kay Cosmetics are grieving a vapor. We are painfully separating from a place we thought held security and honor and hope. We saw her face! We knew what she stood for. The icon and her company that we believed understood our greatest need had turned that need against us. Our deep, probably childhood related longing to have warm relationships with noble, strong, honorable mentors, and to become one ourselves, was the very vulnerability that was exploited to gain a foothold into our hearts. How could we ever walk away from all that being in Mary Kay meant? It defined us. We would march to the drumbeat of the ticking month end clock to build our futures like Mary Kay did. Find a way or make one!

Some are not feeling this hurt so intensely. Others are deeply disappointed, because they have deeply lacked-or deeply trusted. What Mary Kay was supposed to fill for so many of us, was the need of fond affection in a community of like-minded individuals who would never let you down and would always do what’s right. That’s how it was sold to us. That’s why we cried at Seminar. We finally had what we had longed for. It was all true. Here, before our eyes, was all the proof we needed. That’s what Seminar’s for…selling “the dream”.

But like all “dreams”, they are illusions and fantasies woven in an unconscious state, using only snippets of reality. Mary Kay professionally reaches down deep, and snatches your passions and longings and plays them back for you on that grand stage, in “I-story” testimonies from women who are omitting, fabricating and stretching a great deal of the truth. On Awards night, when husbands and families come on stage to address the “Queen” with their pride and love, every eye fills with tears, as onlookers wish to be that woman at that exact moment. This is Hollywood. This is hand crafted to accomplish the task…bind you to Mary Kay in a never-ending quest to become that women who has finally arrived.

Buy in, and all self doubt, insecurity and fear would be swallowed up in a road map, a support system, providing recognition and appreciation. It was true and noble and right. She stood on the stage and promised. We saw it with our own eyes. And long before she passed away, the deceptive practices of NSD’s and Directors that were applauded because they got the job done, had already made Mary Kay, Richard and the family quite wealthy. Only no one talked out loud about the hidden things and only the 2%’ers knew the real way Units were built and National Areas came together.

We who are walking away have come to the realization that this company used our great belief in what’s good, and right, and played our longings and insecurities against us to keep us bound and running to “the top”. And as long as Mary Kay’s perfect ideals can be projected on that Seminar Screen, and the hidden things left hidden, the venerated icon can do her work.

“You can do it” she says, and we believe her. Until we start up the career path.

It is very hard to live “God first”, “family second” when “career third ” requires you to manipulate, omit facts, misrepresent earnings, pressure large inventories, top off production shortfalls, place your family in greater debt, pretend you “love your life” and appear at all events, styled to the “nines”, whether your business or personal finances can afford it. That’s when we started to figured it out. And that’s when the hidden things came to light. It wasn’t “me” who in my way…it was reality. Who was making it? What unit member was earning a living? Which Director was debt free? Who did it with integrity? Who hadn’t tricked the system?

That’s when we knew that the hand crafted image of Mary Kay Ash, what she stood for, was either never true, or long gone. She lied, or the company lied, because they were well aware of all the debt, deception and destruction that occurred in the ranks. They were profiting by it! Suddenly, because of the internet, we saw it all over the United States as the same scam was revealed coast to coast, as Directors came clean. One woman who risks telling the truth within her National Area, risking the “negative Nellie” mantra, will cause the dominoes to fall.

“You can have it all”, the manufactured Mary Kay said. But no, you really can’t. Because the biggest part of that “all” requires a clear conscience.

10 Comments

    1. Char

      Saw this on reddit today. It seemed on topic…and funny.

      “Most people are shocked when i tell them i’m a single mother of 3 kids all aged under 5, i work 3 jobs, go to night school to get my psychology degree, maintain a healthy social life and run a profitable business from home..all on my own. I mean anything is possible when you lie.”

    1. Lazy Gardens

      As near as I can figure out …

      About a year between Ben Rogers and Clarence Eckman (1945 or so) or less.

      A couple of years or less between Eckman’s death in 1947 and marrying Charles Weaver (about 1950) (brother of her BFF, the founder of that decor company)

      Her daughter married in 1952 (age 17)
      Her oldest son married in 1956 (age 19)

      Divorced Weaver (circa 1959)
      Her youngest was in boarding school from 14 or so … he gave a speech about it
      Youngest son marries 1963 (age 20)
      She married Hallenbeck in 1963, he died in 1963

      So not very long at all.

  1. SAH

    What’s sad is, if she told the truth I think she would have had a lot more respect. I mean her life was a LOT more complicated than she really presented and, as much as I hate MLMs, she had an idea and ran with it.

    Its still a success story, whether you like her tactics or not. The many marriages that didn’t work out would have resonated with a lot of women who left relationships themselves or sent the message to others that you do not have to stay in a relation that does not work. So many parts of her life that were omitted could have all been spun into a positive and make her relateable.

    Its sad that she deceived when she didn’t need to

      1. Char

        Yep, he was a “successful” Ponzi schemer in that he was able to scam billions. He seized the “opportunity” to steal money in his Ponzi “business” because his clients had “faith” in him and saw how hard he “worked”.

        It always fascinates me how MLM uses these words and twists them to ONLY mean something good and positive.

  2. Char

    Multiple marriages, pageantry, and conning women.

    Since she professed faith first, good to know this is what Mary Kay’s religion must be about. I am surprised so many women abide by her teachings and worship her though. I’m not that familiar with her religion, but wow. What religion was she?

    NTL, I think I’ll pass on her beliefs as that is not who I want to be. I realize not everyone will try to emulate her, but she is your representative if you do join her company. She is the one who boasted faith first, thus she must be a role model of said faith. So yeah, my inferences are fair if you worship her style and teachings.

    Or did she mean the literal definition of “faith”? – firm belief in something for which there is no proof

    Now that makes perfect sense for a successful con woman to use as a tool to dupe others. Maybe that is what she meant? Just something to ponder.

  3. cindylu

    “This company used our great belief for good” Mary Kay the legend filled our needs. We wanted so much to believe. Then we walked away broken, ashamed, used, abused and with a humiliating form of PTSD. It took a while to admit that we had been conned into an mlm. The arrogance of dismissing our worries by saying it was dual marketing. The greed, manipulation and narcissism, blaming the thousands of swindled women for the failure. The reality was that all of it was based on lies from the beginning. A woman who wanted wealth, success, pink cars, a mansion and accolades used others for her own gain. Like many charismatic leaders, she also used our faith against us. MK raised up and put on a pedestal. We were supposedly her daughters. She was a supposed role model and mentor. Funny thing though when other groups revere their leaders, it doesn’t often bode well. Names like: Shirley Phelps, David Berg, Keith Raniere, David Koresh, Warren Jeffs, L. R. Hubbard, Paul Kingston etc. Yes we walk away with debt and start over. However, in studying what motivates women, she created her own form of indoctrination including: love bombing, fake training, conferences and the ultimate woman’s world of seminar.

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