Written by Raisinberry
Many years back, I stepped through the doors of my first Mary Kay event, completely uncomfortable by what I saw. I thought it was me, since they appeared to be so close and having so much fun. I must have had “issues.” They were so happy and warm and huggy and supportive. I lived outside their world, and some part of me wanted what they had, while at the same time, I distrusted what I saw.
As a child, I learned not to trust my own instincts. When you grow up in a crazy dysfunctional home, you pick whatever coping skill works for you, and denial and humor were working for me. By the end of the event, I was interested in the ca$h these gals were making, but the huggy stuff still freaked me out. Something just wasn’t right.
For some of us, the Mary Kay environment initially looks strange and kind of juvenile, yet we are curiously drawn to it, and are suspect of it at the same time. Mary Kay looks us straight in the eye and says,”You are safe here! Safer than you have ever been.”
“You can trust us… more than you could ever trust anyone in your family. You will grow here. More than you were able to grow inside, and you will be loved and supported here. More than anyone ever showed toward you, the entire time you were growing and struggling and feeling alone. You have landed in the safety net of all things good and right and noble, in stark contrast to the life you had, the stress you knew. This is the sisterhood of support. We are a family. You can trust us.”
In dysfunctional homes, appearances are everything. Nothing is as it seems. Gambling addiction, violence, alcoholism, authoritarian dominance, sexual abuse, mental illness, religious abuse, and more are all a part of the list that characterizes, “dysfunctional.” Does anyone escape this?
And today, psychologists report that one out of two families would qualify as living in a “dysfunctional” environment. If you come from a crazy dysfunctional home, you can function really well in Mary Kay. You are used to doing something for approval or attention or to avoid conflict. Since you usually are starved for attention when other family members have problems, anybody who throws you a bone gets strong loyalty and support.
In dysfunctional homes, sometimes you have to “raise yourself,” so being a strong “D” personality develops and you are used to getting things done without help. In dysfunctionalhomes, according to The Counseling Center, at the University of Illinois, children “experience “reality shifting” in which what is said contradicts what is actually happening (e.g., a parent may deny something happened that the child actually observed, for example, when a parent describes a disastrous holiday dinner as a “good time”).
In such cases, it is easy to see how a adult child, with unresolved issues from childhood, could respond to the Mary Kay environment in complete comfort… denying that her finances are tanking while those in authority around her declare how great Mary Kay is and how much money is being made.
Getting involved and participating in Mary Kay slowly makes you let your guard down. You begin to get caught up in the hoopla of a business sorority where your mentors are classy rich women who say they love and support you and can’t wait to see you at the top. You start to believe them. They are not your old life. They are faithful and true. They are women of their word… women of excellence who do the right thing, always, even to their own detriment, for the sake of honor and righteousness.
The only reason you start doubting what they say is that you start to see a few things that don’t quite square up. As long as you are doing what you are told, there are no indicators that something just isn’t right. But over time, the “pink bubble” begins to crack. Things like, a cross town director who knows you are in DIQ and encourages her own DIQ to recruit your customer. An inactive consultant friend that you know well suddenly shows up in the newsletter as your director’s recruit, when you know she has no intention of doing the business.
Your recruit is “tops” on the year to date sales leader list when you know she hasn’t held one class! You decide not to attend meeting for whatever reason, and the guilt call comes the next morning. The syrupy sweet director is asking, “I am so worried…are you ill, because surely, you wouldn’t intentionally miss a meeting?” Those creepy feelings are coming back. You remember well how manipulation and deception sounds. Oh forget it… people are human. Your denial knows how to enter right on cue.
“What do you mean I can not afford to miss it? I really have to be at my husband’s event.”
“Why would our National want to see me?”
“Really ? She has been watching me? She wants to talk to me? Okay… I will make arrangements… somehow.”
At the guest event, you listen and wait and watch until all the photos with the National have been taken, and as you approach and introduce yourself, her brief comments to you make you realize YOU have been taken. A woman who manipulates you to be somewhere so she has “numbers” to impress her NSD, or who believes her NSD will speak and appear as if she really DID want to meet you, is taking a huge chance.
She believes in her own twisted way that you will forgive her for the coercion for the sake of the motivational pop you will receive. Directors begin to believe that if they mimic their NSD, and do whatever it takes to “get people there,” all will be worthwhile. People who grow up in dysfunctional homes are very used to lying and manipulation.
They are equally good at denying the impact of that manipulation and lying as well. They prefer to believe in a world they create, rather than the one they are living in. The twisted emotional manipulation that is used, by all those on the Mary Kay career path becomes an all too familiar flashback into childhood. We don’t like it, but we can do it. We can function with it.
Directors lie to themselves and other directors. NSDs rehearse the lies and scripts we are to tell our people. Everything is supposed to “look good” on the outside, so nobody knows what’s going on in the inside. That’s what positive mental attitude (never be negative) behavior produces.
Fostering a culture where truth cannot be exposed or expressed is the hallmark of the dysfunctional, twisted family unit. Labeling “negative” situations or events as something to be stuffed inside, denied, and ignored is the power play of the abuser. Calling a deliberate abuse of credit cards “achievement” is the kind of reality shifting that is textbook dysfunctional.
What directors know that consultants do not is that Mary Kay is a dysfunctional twisted sisterhood that pretends to be the savior of women. And to the degree that many American households have some kind of operating “dysfunction,” that will determine how comfortable you are within it…a nd how long you will stay before noticing how twisted it really is.
As time goes on, you discover that your NSD encouraged a fellow director to “put in the production” over and over, so that now she is facing bankruptcy. Except the National says that the director didn’t work her business. The NSD does not want you to see any “failure” on the part of her mentoring. It has to be the fault of the director. This is twisted.
Your director tells you to “find a way or make a way” as you need 3 more to finish DIQ on the last day. You humiliate yourself begging friends and family and finally make deals to activate them. You kick in the money for the agreements and the initial orders, and your director praises you on Monday night in a big celebration. This is twisted.
The company finds out that prominent top directors have a scheme that gets large orders in, and reach large unit production goals by less than ethical means. They not only get to receive their “honor,” they get to speak before a Seminar full of bright-eyed believers and completely distort the truth. The music plays as they walk off stage and the crowd is asked to give them one more round of applause! This is twisted.
The corporate staff discovers that agreements and orders go in by people who have no knowledge an order is being placed, and they do nothing to alert or change the system, while acting incredulously that such a thing goes on. Why? Because corporate wants the production. This is twisted.
What is even more twisted is it takes a detoxification process before you begin to REALIZE just how many distortions and lies you have been told and have repeated. You have to detox from a company that works SO HARD to convince you how righteous it is, all the while lying through its proverbial teeth! You were wooed into a culture than promised to fill your greatest need, and kept you in by your greatest weakness. Denial.
Those of us who have experienced the path of dysfunction are able to stay in Mary Kay long past all warning buzzers going off. We can pretend. We had to, to cope. And we are completely comfortable with chaos and madness behind the curtain, while we smile and sing and make all kinds of appearances that all is well.
The first step of recovery is admitting you have a problem. Facing the fact that Mary Kay was not your savior and never was, you can begin the detox that will first expose our use of denial as a coping strategy, and second speak the truth (without denial) about exactly what Mary Kay is:
Mary Kay Cosmetics is a sophisticated and honed, multi-level marketing scheme, which has used recognition and praise to coerce women into pursuing the satisfaction of their deepest needs of stability, security, friendship, and appreciation, while denying the financial wreckage that is created in the process. Mary Kay uses manipulation and blameshifting to clear their own company of wrong-doing while employing national sales directors and directors to bring in the production orders by which it financially survives.
Mary Kay promotes a culture of secrecy concerning full disclosure, under the guise of being “positive” and avoiding “negative” thinking, which traps women into destructive patterns of financial entanglement and guilt. Further, Mary Kay promotes the use of spiritual manipulation to create the illusion that Mary Kay Cosmetics can be trusted.
Mary Kay is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And ladies… that’s twisted.