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

A 12 Step Program for Mary Kay

Written by Raisinberry

Time is truly the great healer. I offer that today as a message of hope for all the readers of Pink Truth. The day will come when in “full circle” fashion, you will return to your former positive outlook… your hopeful vision of what can be, stronger for stretching past the pink predator’s grasp.

Pink Truth is a kind of 12 step recovery program for multi-level marketing victims. Here we help women come to terms with their involvement in MK. This is not to minimize the seriousness of addiction or be irreverent toward the 12 step program. It is just that we have seen so many similarities … and for some, Mary Kay may really seem like an addiction. So it may be helpful to look at “recovering” from Mary Kay in the framework of the 12 step program.

First, we must admit that our lives became unmanageable. For those deeply entrenched in following the Mary Kay ladder of success, that word, “unmanageable” is right on the money. Chasing status, recognition, acceptance, and other people’s vision of what our own lives should be, becomes a form of madness and rationalization that hides our own self deception. Is there any Director out there, reading this today, who cannot remember sitting in front of her computer at month end, sick inside, because of what she is about to do, again, for the sake of appearances? One more unnecessary order of inventory, one more fake activation, one more justified commission jump, one more “qualifier” for some stupid luncheon, party, seat at the NSD feet.
Madness. It is the picture of a drunk driver, out on bail, going to the bar to relieve the pain. How much debt can your household take? How long will you use your commission check to pay down your card, without money to live? Unmanageable madness.

Our second step is to believe that a higher power can help. We were brainwashed to believe that Mary Kay is the temple where all things good and holy exist. But she is not the higher power. A true higher power is what we need to believe in as we come out of MK. One of the hardest awakenings involves the disbelief that the women we trusted could actually do this, be a part of this under the guise of a “Christian company.”

Step three asks us to turn our lives over to a higher power… to be restored to sanity. To me, that is a request to trust once again. We have to believe in the possibility that growth comes from the pain we felt because of Mary Kay. Growth indeed does come, but we also need to take time to protect ourselves, reflect, and restore ourselves.

Step four is taking a personal inventory. Who have we become? What did we do? Why did we do it? How is it that our own ethical conduct was back burnered on the “do what your Director says” advice of others, claiming to “take us to the top”?

Step five is our admission, to God and to other people the exact nature of our wrongs. We do that on a daily basis at Pink Truth as each one tells her story. Not all stories involve hurting others, but career path consultants know how deception worked its ugly way into our functioning. Every pretense, every upfront sales ribbon accepted in order to fool guests, or “qualify” or not be embarrassed in front of our uplines… every “hourly wage” we agreed to from our Directors’ lips, every time we said our highest check, every time we hid our credit card statements from our significant other. The list goes on.

Step six requires the readiness to ask God to remove these defects of character. Confession here on Pink Truth, in many ways, clears the heart of shame. We know we fell for it. We may not have known why, but we accept responsibility. The predator took advantage of our trust, our willingness and our weakness. The greatest defect of character of the woman victimized by Mary Kay, is a failure to recognize her extreme value, worth and wonder, given her totally by God, and not dependent on the opinion of any other human being.

Step seven requires the humility to ask. Take away this blindness, God. Awaken us, to who we really are. Remove our shortcomings.

Eight and nine involve making our list of people we have harmed, and making amends where possible. For many of us, just posting on Pink Truth to expose the truth and prevent others from living in denial is this very step. Many of us feel that if we can expose how it was done, through scripts, slogans, contest bait, elitism, denial, need for recognition, manipulation, etc, we can prevent the next “prospect” from being sucked into the con. What looks to be a simple wholesale/retail cosmetics business is actually a cult society of exploiting insecurities and dangling carrots to keep women on a hamster wheel, producing inventory orders, in an attempt to quiet some aching need to be significant.

Step ten asks us to take further inventory. We admit our wrongs when we catch them. We apply grace to those coming after us, either attacking us in our personal lives or on Pink Truth.

Eleven is our commitment to staying connected to our higher power, in truth, so that we are powered up to stand. The ability to walk out the journey, recover from our past mistakes, and trust in our futures requires faith in ourselves and in the God of our understanding.

Twelve tells us to carry this message to others who are suffering, and practice these principles in all our affairs. This is precisely why we tell the ugly pink tale. We want newcomers to realize they are not alone. Silence was how Mary Kay kept millions of women in the dark. “Never be negative” and the ostracizing of anyone with a concern, a doubt, a worry was the modus operandi by which each one felt she was the only one who was failing. She didn’t know the other gal was in the same boat. She just needed to get “fixed”.

Silence and the “don’t talk” mentality are the hallmarks of a predator; transferring blame is as well. You just didn’t “work your business” are the words of the financial abuser, who knows full well, how they have lied and manipulated and tricked you as well as themselves into believing that “Mary Kay works when you do.”

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, but failing to believe how truly great we are, we were convinced our lives were not quite as wonderful as the Mary Kay lady’s. Not knowing she was trained to exploit what was lacking in our lives, our vulnerability was her power. Drawn in, we succumbed to a game of comparisons, of elitism, that expanded our insecurities under the guise of “sisterhood”. We were betrayed. But now it is time to grow.


  1. Kristen

    Excellent article, Raisinberry! Our “I Story” becomes our journey through the Mary Kay nightmare and how we survived it. Just like in twelve step programs, we all relate to each other’s stories because there are always similarities. We relate to the feelings of shame, guilt, remorse, inadequacy and hopelessness. The best way to heal is to know you are not alone.

  2. Data Junkie

    That was beautiful. The underlying humanity from contributors like Raisinberry is a testament to the sincerity of Pink Truth’s mission to help, not hurt.

    Keep it up ladies. These heartfelt messages are getting through, little by little.


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