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

The Mary Kay Guilt Trip

Written by sadnpink

Guilt and shame are two of the most powerful manipulative tools in the tool box of MLMs and especially Mary Kay. It is one reason so many women stay in the company and find it difficult to leave.

The thought of “who am I going to let down if I leave” can be strong enough to keep us in a holding pattern when we know we should go.

At the very beginning of my MK career, I came in to have fun and use the products. It was my third go round with MLM, but I thought Mary Kay was different. After all, I was told it was “dual marketing.” not multi-level marketing. I bought into that thinking even though my husband informed me that there was no difference. The “guilt trip” for me did not begin until I started to attend weekly meetings as an adoptee. It was there that I quickly learned about recognition. Those who did not bring guests, recruit someone, or order enough to be a star did not receive the time of day let alone recognition. So I jumped on the bandwagon to prove that I was no slacker.

As I moved up the ladder of success, I found more and more pressure beginning to be added to my plate at each conference I attended. The goals got tougher and things were said like: “God wants you to be great” or “God doesn’t give you a dream that He doesn’t give you the ability to achieve.” This played into my psyche since I am a Christian. Certainly I didn’t want to let God down.

So when I began to have difficulties as a Sales Director making production, I began to look at myself and say, “What’s wrong with me? I must be a bad leader. I don’t see anyone else struggling like this so it must be me.” I even began to question whether my spiritual life was okay because God was not blessing me the way I saw others blessed. Do you see how guilt can be destructive? I began to lose confidence in my ability as a leader, so I worked over time to prove I was successful. Little did I realize that it was a failed system – not me – that kept me from achieving my dreams.

A more subtle method of applying guilt comes through an hierarchy mentality in this company. You are NOBODY unless you are in the top ten as a consultant, red jacket or director. At each level, unless we stand out, we do not get the praise, recognition, or assistance we desire. Who wants to feel left out? Yet, all you have to do is go to seminar or some banquet and sit there all evening long while others are lauded and you don’t even get a nod. Somehow, I was told that in Mary Kay we were “praised” to success. Where was the praise and recognition for at least helping to support the whole pyramid? I had that thought from the time I was a consultant all the way through directorship.

Over and over again we are told to be a “team player”… meaning order up and churn women as recruits. If we fail to do this, we don’t get phone calls from our director or those upline from us. The silence is all the guilt we need. We are also told that this business is simple. Just book, coach, sell and recruit. If we do this consistently 3+3+3, we can write our own ticket to success. So the implied message is… if you cannot do this, it is your own fault. You didn’t work hard enough, or work the numbers enough. The reality is much different. 99% do not succeed in any MLM. 99% fail in Mary Kay. I didn’t know that or realize it so for a long time I kept running as hard as I could to make it work. I appeared outwardly successful but inside, the guilt was piling up.

When I finally could no longer take the emotional roller coaster, I resigned. However, I felt a lot of shame. I felt as though I had let a lot of people down. I think this is the reason that keeps many from leaving Mary Kay sooner. You see, I did not know that there were others out there asking themselves the same questions and dealing with guilt too. We are told not to be negative or to even talk with those who question. Yet that is mental suicide. Why would a smart woman not ask questions? We should and we must!

Let me close with this example. In a recent call to red jackets, a NSD told her people to get the prize booklet for the new quarter out and show it to her children. Let them see the beautiful pink piano for children in the flyer. Tell them that you are going to win this for them with your business. This will help you set a goal.

Can you see the manipulation in something like this? How would you feel if you didn’t order enough to get that prize for your child? How would your child feel? Things like this are said all the time in Mary Kay to make us dance to a certain tune. Guilt and shame often keep people trapped in a sick, dysfunctional relationship for decades. These two tools can also keep women from leaving a business that does not work. We need to recognize that we do not have to please or answer to any company or upline. The guilt and shame are false and based on greed, envy and power. None of these bring out the best in any of us. In a true business opportunity, we would be trained on how to sell the product, encouraged at every level and not made to feel spiritually inferior if we do not hit a goal.

This summer don’t take “the Mary Kay Guilt Trip” . Take a real vacation and leave Mary Kay behind!


  1. Char

    “The reality is much different. 99% do not succeed in any MLM. 99% fail in Mary Kay. “ – And the top 1% succeed by lying their way up!

    MLM purposely has you focus on “the business opportunity”, the product, success, helping others, reselling at double retail, god, etc.. THIS IS ALL A DISTRACTION. Yes, we can talk about how the products are over-priced or lack quality, but this is a secondary issue and insignificant to the scam method.

    1200/2400 Lots of numbers there to confuse you. Now find the lowest common denominator.

    Mary Kay = MLM = Pyramid Scheme

    None of the other factors matter to the bottom line. 1200/2400 just seems more impressive than 1/2. The purpose of the higher number is to trick, distract, impress, and confuse you. Remove all the MK crap lingo, and you’ve got yourself a pyramid scheme – the lowest common denominator!

    The real guilt should be associated with succeeding in a pyramid scheme.

    Don’t let them, Corporate and top scammers, twist that around on you and make it seem like you’re a failure at being honest and having integrity!

  2. Liesl

    What is it about winning “prizes” that is the downfall of so many women? How much is this stuff even worth? If you had a regular paid job, you could buy these items yourself, with the money you earn from your job.

    Think about that.

    1. TRACY

      The talking point is “it’s not about the prize.” They say you don’t work for the prize, that it’s just the “extra” after you make a bunch of money working your business.

      Except they know it’s a lie. The reason prizes are used is because they KNOW women will buy extra inventory simply to get the prize.

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