Facts, opinions, and the real story behind Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Getting Over the Mary Kay Guilt (Why We Stay an Active Part of Pink Truth)

Written by Rachel

Sometimes critics ask why we spend so much time at Pink Truth, saying the same things over and over. Why don’t we just get over it already, and move on? Believe me, many of us have asked ourselves the same question. We’ve all been through difficult times, or losses of one sort or another. Why does recovery from this Mary Kay experience seem to be so hard for many of us? This question came up on the discussion boards recently, and here are some of my thoughts about it.

Leaving Mary Kay is a grieving process, but in some ways it is harder than losing a loved one. When someone dies, there is a wake and funeral (or similar rituals), and the people around you can easily recognize what you have lost. Even if they can’t understand, they know that there’s a real loss, and they know it’s personal for you. We don’t get that kind of support leaving Mary Kay, do we?

When someone dies, it is sad, but you do know that it is something that happens in life. Sooner or later, we all lose someone close to us (a number of people, in fact.) And we understand that accidents, sickness, old age, are things that happen. When we did Mary Kay, we fully expected it to bring us some sort of income. I don’t think it even occurred to most of us that we could lose money. When we work hard, and do what we’re supposed to, we expect good results. Many of those who got the most involved in Mary Kay are those who are accustomed to making success for themselves, and not accepting failure. So we’re not only dealing with a loss, we’re dealing with our own completely unexpected failure. And even once we realize that we were set up to fail, it’s still hard on those of us who are used to overcoming all obstacles until we finally achieve our goals. But the truth is, only those of us who try hard, and don’t give up easily, get so badly burned. Some of our best qualities led us to bigger losses than we should have seen.

Rarely do we seriously feel we caused a loved one’s death (and for those who do, healing is a LOT harder.) IMO opinion, the biggest reason it’s so hard to get over the Mary Kay thing, is that we all know we did it to ourselves. And not only to ourselves — we hurt our families, and often friends and other people we intended to help.

It’s not so easy to let go of the guilt, but it has to be done. It is nearly impossible to be right in our relationships with others until we can forgive ourselves. One thing that helps is to understand that when we did Mary Kay, we had normal and natural human reactions to the circumstances. It still stings some of us when a person come here and tells us how they were too smart to get taken in. We wonder, why didn’t we see it? We thought we were smart, sensible people. And we are. The truth is, we were expertly manipulated, and human beings in general are susceptible to that. There are any number of psychological studies that show it. My favorite, because it is easy to read, is one that Lazy Gardens brought to our attention on the discussion boards a couple months ago: Brain Quirk Could Help Explain Financial Crisis   This study showed how we turn off our own decision making when we get advice from an expert.

As to the other studies that have helped me… it can be hard to read these studies and learn what people are capable of. We’d all like to think people are better than that. But when we have done things we’re not proud of, it can help to realize it doesn’t mean we’re bad people, or weak people, but that we’re normal, trusting people. It’s part of human nature to deal with the complexity of our world by using the guidance of others to help shape our judgement.

No one person can understand everything by himself. We especially tend to trust, and follow advice of, people in authority. Even when the experts say things that sound wrong, most of us have learned from experience that when we fight the people with more experience and authority, we only make things harder for ourselves, because it turns out that most of the time, they, with their greater knowledge and experience, turn out to be right. So if you have the stomach for it, check out the Milgram experiments, and the Stanford Prison experiment.

The other things that help are exactly the things we get from participating at PT. One is to realize we’re not alone.We come here and find out that others went through all the same things we did. And we share our stories, too. Because the other thing that really help us recover is helping others. We can warn those who are out there doing their research before making the decision. And we can help our fellow alumni (of the MK school of hard knocks) with their recovery. That’s what this place is all about.


  1. raisinberry

    Well said Rachel. After a few years of counseling, I also have come to realize that Mary Kay is one huge dysfunctional family, one that keeps secrets, pretends things are all okay, functions in denial, and routinely abuses its members.

    It gets away with it because a great deal of America’s (and the world’s) children are raised in dysfunctional homes and respond well to the conditions. We doubt ourselves and operate in praise deficit, thinking something is wrong with us, so accolades and recognition are like warm milk and cookies. We choose other addictions like workaholism, compulsivity, religious addiction, sex addiction, drug and alcohol addiction to numb the painful soul, the “low deserve level” that Mary Kay exploits. Mary Kay herself was a workaholic, and there is no difference between that and an alcoholic. High drama, stresses, over scheduling, competing, racing, all create the same addicting endorphins and mood altering that alcohol does. Dry drunks suffer the same nagging relational issues, fears, and codependence /low self esteem that prevents emotional sobriety.

    Mary Kay dangles all the things the damaged soul thinks it needs(as long as you continue to play the game and order product as needed).

    In a sense, PinkTruth is therapy for those who finally open their eyes, brush off their own denial and face the problem…particularly the debt problem, the lying, and people pleasing problem.

    The first step is to admit it.

  2. Ne-Pink-Plus

    For anyone familiar with 12 step programs, Pink Truth is my 12th step. It helps me to help others who were in the same situation, who tell the same stories, and who feel the same guilt and shame over our actions when we were under the influence of Mary Kay. Here is where the true sisterhood lies. We celebrate each other, and don’t sweep mis-steps under the rug, and pass them off as “negative.” We are honest and forthright with each other, and I appreciate that much better than the dishonesty that often accompanies MK recruiting.

  3. PinkPuh-leeeze!

    Everytime I see “sister” used in MK connotations, I can’t help but think of the series on TV now called “Sister Wives.” I get the same feeling from both — they’re just plain wrong… no matter how many rings or reasonings you use to try to justify it all. Ick!

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