Written by SuzyQ

You get into Mary Kay, and Mary Kay gets into you. Yesterday I talked about the culture of Mary Kay and how it becomes an obsession. I got out of Mary Kay, so why did I still feel so bad?

As directors, even if we weren’t wildly successful, we still were Mary Kay in our minds. We made it to the TOP 2% of the company and we had everything together.

Yesterday I talked about obsession. Obsession is defined as: “1. the act of an evil spirit in possessing or ruling a person. 2. the fact or state of being obsessed with an idea, desire, emotion, etc. 3. such a persistent idea, desire, emotion, etc. esp. one that cannot be gotten rid of my reasoning.” (Webster New World Dictionary) I am not wild about the first definition, but the other two certainly do ring true. Obsessions are very difficult to dismiss.

Mary Kay reminds me of one of those old phone boards and operators we see on movies from the 30’s and 40’s… maybe even 50’s, when customers were connected manually by operators plugging one person’s phone cord into another person’s hole on the board. The connection was made, and those two people could have a conversation.

We were plugged into MK’s board in a manner we can hardly fathom. Imagine some of the needs we have; support, friendship, excitement, recognition, money, applause, phone calls, text messages, bling, “uniforms”, travel, make-up, training, potential, goal posters, dreams, rewards, drama, power, influence, spiritual guidance… the list goes on and on. This is incredibly important stuff, and MK gives us all of that. That bears repeating, MK GIVES US ALL OF THAT. One-stop shopping as it were.

We get so “plugged in” to MK that we subsume our identities to something bigger and better than we could possibly have done alone. MK defines our success, our self esteem, our dreams for our families and our futures. We relinquish custody of our souls to the company and the goodness and prosperity that will come, because we bee-lieve.

Dramatic? Yes. True? Yes, again. For example, remember product changes and the spin we did for our consultants to get them “on board?” How does one spin that? Better yet, how does a director sleep at night knowing she has just ordered $3600 worth of product she knows is being discontinued for a new consultant? On the last day of the month?

These plug ins we have with MK cover everything in our lives. We box up our product and send it back, post a note on the discussion board, and celebrate the fact that “it” is over. Except “it” is not. It just started.

The losses start to mount, and they are biggies— our friends, make-up stashes, customers, cars, units, unit names, unit pins, flags/signs we used at career conference to find our unit members, director meetings, endless phone calls, production tracking sheets, our dreams, our futures, our Facebook pages, our meeting agendas, interviews, inventory talks, debuts, email, Bible studies, NSD newsletters, company and area events, birthday and Christmas gifts from the company, contests, bling, director suits, thousands of social media posts, early ordering, unit support packages, access to InTouch, production requirements, rosettes, sashes, pins, acrylic fingernails with French manicures… It’s all gone. And we wonder why we are depressed?

When we have a loss, and make no mistake, when we quit MK, it is a loss, all of our previous losses come back for a visit too. It’s very much like opening one file on your computer and hitting the drop down menu— everything comes back. (In my case, this loss list included John W. who dumped me my senior year of high school. The creep.) And we wonder why we are depressed?

This company defined our very being for however long we were drinking the kool-aid and it will take some time to move through the grief process. A loss is a loss and the grief process is the grief process, and trust me on this one— there is not really a way to get through it quickly. You just have to let its run its course.

We all have a personal journey through this, some of us seem to get through it quickly and without a lot of drama, and some of us get stuck. We do not get graded on our responses, and it’s highly individualized process. Even after all this time, I am horrified to find a cord that is still plugged into my old MK board. Like when I was looking through drawers to find a business card holder for my J.O.B. (I LOVE my JOB—it is my favorite, most meaningful work yet) and I found one. It was part of the “pewter” desk set for a star prize years ago. I use it now proudly for two reasons: 1) It tells me where I was and 2) It tells me who I have become.

It takes awhile to get into MK, it takes awhile for MK to get into you, and it takes about twice as long for you to get MK out of you. And it is so worth it!

Welcome back! You are still there and you are still fabulous!


  1. I am so intrigued by these MLM systems. In spite of glaring evidence that every MLM downline is losing money, they are able to “snow” the entire sales organization into believing this could ever be profitable. These cults certainly fill some fundamental needs (temporarily), but they require clever manipulation to distract from the primary purpose of MLM, which is to get the sales force to order (on their own dime) substantially more of the overpriced product than they can ever use or sell, and recruit others to do the same.

    While I believe MLM should be illegal, I am fascinated by their continued ability to recruit new blood into this broken old system. These worn out old pitches about being your own boss and controlling your own future. Neither is true, but they continue to get folks to believe it.

    I know much has been written about MLMs being cult-like. I am hoping these last two articles by SuzyQ are able to reach those who have been bamboozled by the highly polished Mary Kay marketing spin/deception. If only they could see what is plainly visible from the “outside”. They look like fools, and sadly, once they realize this, the transition out becomes even more painful. For some, it is just easier to stay in and delay facing the cringy reality of their involvement in Mary Kay.

    Eventually they run out of credit, and must face this reality. The cult is ready for this, and conditions you to blame yourself, not Mary Kay, for failing in a system that is designed to make you fail…and to profit from your failure. In fact, the greater your loss, the greater the benefit to Mary Kay!

  2. Suz, these two pieces are so well-written and so true. I especially encourage directors who are in the process of getting out, or even considering it, to embrace the process and let it unfold the way it will. There is pain and loss, but also the opportunity to grow into your authentic self again. It is 100% worth it, and once you get to the place where you can look back with a little bit of objectivity, your main emotion will be one of gratitude.


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