America’s Cult Detector Helps Us Decide If Mary Kay Is a Cult

Written by Raisinberry

Many years ago, Christian writer, Bob Larson wrote a book to help churches and pastors identify exactly which religious groups were “cults.”

Using Bob’s standard of measure, we can ascertain whether Mary Kay Cosmetics qualifies. Wouldn’t that be fun? That way we could once and for all decide, by using the expert in Cult mentality, whether or not what we were indoctrinated into was really a cult or just a bad business model.

Interestingly, Bob Larson, by holding himself up as the chief detector of cults uses the same device that Mary Kay uses to avoid scrutiny. If you hold yourself up as the judge of such things, with the express job of informing the world about their practices, no one ever looks at your deception! You’re in the clear!

Mary Kay’s directors spare no effort in telling us how our JOBs are the “journey of the broke.” But who is really BROKE? Mary Kay’s directors tell us that our JOBs are abusing us and not paying us what we are worth! But Premier CLub and Cadillac directors who have come clean here on Pink Truth tell us that there is no such “executive income” involved except for the tippy top of National Sales Directors, just like any other pyramid scheme. Expenses and chargebacks erode profits making directorship a minimum wage job for nearly all directors!

Mary Kay’s directors sell freedom and flexibility but in reality there is no freedom for the director who must (I repeat, must) participate in every genius idea her national conjures up, and every corporately sponsored activity, or be frowned upon.

Mary Kay’s directors tell us that we are running our own business, yet we own nothing. We can’t sell “our business” to anyone as if it had any real value. We have no business at all. What we have are customers (excuse the exaggeration) who are the property of Mary Kay and will be handed off to our directors the minute we exit.

We are a commissioned sales force with no benefits, except what we pay for… and be advised, you are paying for that car… one way or the other.

So taking Bob’s book, let’s begin! How to identify a “cult”:

1. Absolute Loyalty. Allegiance to the sect is demanded and enforced by actual or veiled threats to one’s body or eternal spiritual condition.

Allegiance to Mary Kay has always been a key feature. After all, MK’s motto is God first, and that is being used to bring about “excellence” in booking selling recruiting and frontloading. But the lines are blurry between what is just business, and what is God’s business.

2. Altered Diet. Depriving one of essential nutrients and enforcing a low protein diet can lead to disorientation and emotional susceptibility.

I was gearing up to say no, doesn’t apply, but then I thought a minute. Doesn’t every single director taking photos from Seminar take pictures of the desserts? Don’t we get goodie bags of sugary treats? Its MUFFINS and makeovers.. and PIZZA and possibilities. Holy Cats. We are being inundated with carbs!

3. Chanting and Meditation. Objective intellectual input is avoided by countering anticult questions with repetitious songs and chants.

“Excuse me miss director, but I was wondering why we would want to recruit everybody within 3 feet.. don’t we need customers to sell this product to?”

“Oh Come on Susie, let’s sing another round of Mary Kay Enthusiasm! I’ve got that Mary Kay enthusiasm down in my heart..down in my heart, down in my heart!”

“Oh and by the way…have you been repeating your affirmation 10 times daily? You know you need to do that if you are ever going to break through and reach your goals!”

4. Conformity. Dress language, names, and interests take on a sameness that erodes individuality.

No discourse needed! How’s this for same dress? Earn The Suit, Get in RED! All kinds of Units named Beelievers, and Miracles, and Stars. The avoidance of anybody outside Mary Kay’s belief system, and the wearing of the same clothing to every event!

5. Doctrinal confusion. Incomprehensible “truths” are more readily accepted when presented in a complex fashion that encourages rejection of logical thought.

Mary Kay has incomprehensible truths? Hmm. Fake it till you make it, while being a woman of excellence? Be “go give” while at month end, you are getting all you can? We are the number one best selling brand when no one ever counts your retail sales?

6. Exclusivity. Those outside the cults are viewed as spiritually inferior, creating an exclusive and self righteous “we” versus “they” attitude.

Holy cow! One thing Mary Kay definitely fosters is the idea that all others outside MK are inferior. Add the Christian component and you have a spiritually inferior mix.

7. Financial involvement. All or part of one’s personal assets may be donated to the cult, increasing vested interest in sticking with it and lessening the chance of returning to a former vocation.

This one ran chills up my spine! The more we bought product the more we felt we had to buy more product. Sticking with it was the only way to recoup our losses! People were encouraged to quit their jobs to break all ties and really get serious about Mary Kay. Time passes and that old vocation looks so far away!

8. Hypnotic States. Inducing a highly susceptible state of mind may be accomplished by chanting, repetitious singing, or meditation.

“If it is to be it’s up to me! If it is to be it’s up to me!”

Well I don’t know how many consultants chant Mary Kay slogans but we are definitely urged to meditate and visualize our success. The altered state of mind however occurs at Seminar and events like Career Conference, retreats, Red Jacket Rallies, and the like. MK loves to whip up the frenzy of tears and joy in order to “sell the sizzle.”

9. Isolation from outside. Diminished perception of reality results when one is physically separated from friends, society, and the rational frame in which one has previously functioned.

Oh brother! Mary Kay loves to “separate” us from those influences in our lives that even attempt to offer us rational thought. That’s why quarterly events are KEY to pulling off this mind control. Monday meeting, weekly conference calls, Saturday brunches, monthly multi-unit gatherings…oh yea, we can check the box on this one.

10. Lack of Privacy. Reflective critical thinking is impossible in a setting where cult members are seldom left unattended, and the ego’s normal defensive mechanisms can easily be stripped away by having the new member share personal secrets that can later be used for intimidation.

Well we know we gained all that personal stuff in the interview, and the sleepovers definitely open the door to the sharing of intimate personal details, but it is really the group think mentality that blocks the reflective critical thinking that has me worried.

It is a rare corporate event that allows for reflective critical thinking! Your time is scheduled start to finish in a river of indoctrination to the “Mary Kay way”. If you can miss these events you can regain your mental privacy.

11. Love Bombing. Physical affection and constant contrived attention can give you a false sense of camaraderie.

Mary Kay’s Love Bomb falls with a purpose. Come and get your HUG! Applause and Hugs and Hugs and Applause… You look so great! You are so sharp! We’d LOVE to have you join us! GROUP HUG!!! Yikes.

12. Megacommunication. Long confusing lectures can be an effective tool if the inductee is bombarded with glib rhetoric and catch phrase.

Megacommunication has to include incessant emails and text messages! How does 25 a day sound? And Mary Kay reigns supreme in catch phrases and rhetoric. The long lectures are labeled “training” and are distributed via video so you can have a daily indoctrination into Mary Kay thinking.

The only thing confusing about them is that the information shared is rarely a result of personal experience… more like repeating some other director’s material who is repeating some other director’s material. The confusing part is rarely does anyone get the same results and the company disclaimer bears witness.

13. New relationships. Marriage to another cult member and the destruction of past family relationships integrates one fully into the cult “family.”

It has been recorded here that marriages have broken apart due to climbing the Mary Kay career path. When the “family” encourages you to get rid of unsupportive husbands, I think the same manipulation applies. The misdirection of God, Family, Career makes it appear MK has your family in the 2nd position, but nothing could be further than the truth! Just try and catch a tournament ball game on meeting night.

14. Nonsensical activities. Games and other activities with no apparent purpose leave one dependent upon a group or leader to give direction and order.

There is always a purpose in Mary Kay and that is recruit, recruit , recruit. So every nonsensical activity like, “Shop till you drop,” “Mary Kay Bingo,” zooming around retreat in a cardboard pink caddy, or showing up at Leadership motivational night in a Spangled-Up Pink vest, cowboy hat and pink boa serves to break down your sense of decorum into following the directives of your “leader.” Fun, fun, fun! Girls just want to have fun. Who knew it was step 14 of cult management?

15. Pavlovian control. Behavior modification by alternating reward and punishment leads to confusion and dependency.

I have been waiting all day for this one. Buddy this one screams Mary Kay!

You are going to work your tail off to not have to be at the bottom of the Scoreboard, humiliated. Move into the Top Ten and you get head table seating at Seminar and a lovely gift. Fail to hang on to that spot and you’re down on the floor again. Go for your car and you are the director’s best friend! Give it a rest and you’re off the speed dial.… Chase the carrot on the stick for the accolades and recognition until you do everything the director says including finishing Queen’s Court on your husband’s credit card!

16. Peer pressure. By exploiting one’s desire for acceptance, doubts about cult practices can be overcome by offering a sense of belonging to an affirming community.

Mary Kay is the epitome of an “affirming community.” And that definitely limits the questions asked about why things are the way they are. By gaining support and friendship for involving yourself in the Mary Kay Dream, you wouldn’t really want to lose it.

Toeing the Mary Kay Line becomes the way to show you are one with all the others, and this is peer pressure. Not toeing the line, asking the hard questions and exposing the problems gets you tossed out of the group or rejected.

17. Sensory Deprivation. Fatigue coupled with prolonged activity can make one vulnerable to otherwise offensive beliefs and suggestions.

Just ask a DIQ if she is finding herself doing some otherwise offensive things as she races with little sleep to directorship! Prolonged activity might be defined a IPAs, Meetings and Appointments to get the numbers in. The mere suggestion to sign up your dead Grandma might make a lot of sense at 6:48 Pm on the last day.

18. Unquestioning submission. Acceptance of cult practices is achieved by discouraging any questions or natural curiosity that may challenge what the leaders propagate.

Ask your director what her “average” check is and prepare to have her laser eyes melt your brain. Question your national about why the company doesn’t record or reward actual retail sales yet does Awards Night on pretend retail, and she will have a spontaneous migraine. When you find yourself seated alone at a reserved seating star event, you will have figured it out.

19. Value rejection. As the recruit becomes more integrated into the cult, she is encouraged to denounce the values and beliefs of her former life.

It’s a funny thing how an “I story” is developed and becomes a denouncement of a recruit’s former life and occupation. Over time, as the recruit aims for recognition, status, the suit, wealth and possessions and prizes, these “values” replace contentment, peace, and joy.

In Mary Kay, striving is the only acceptable state of being. Non-striving equates to being a “loser”. If you are happy with what you have, you are in a dead stop. And that is a very bad thing in Mary Kay. Peace and contentment are values you must denounce to make it to the TOP of the MK PYRAMID.

According to the criteria of the World’s Cult Detector, Bob Larson… Is Mary Kay Cosmetics a cult?

You are free to use your own brain without manipulation, reprisals, rejection, contrived attention, unquestioning submission, lack of privacy or sugary snacks.


  1. Excellent stuff Raisinberry. Bob Larson fails his own test. ROTFL

    Can you hear it? Mary Kay is not an MLM company; it’s dual-marketing…..said the MLMer building her multi-level team of concultants.

    I’ll just do one for comparison. (1) A synonym for “sect” is denomination. Okay, two. (2) Altered diet: Can we say “Fish on Friday”?


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