Going Into Debt With Mary Kay

A sales director shows us how easy it is to fall into debt in Mary Kay. Even though she wasn’t making money, she has stayed in for years and tries to live the dream.

I started MK about 8 years ago. I was a stay at home mom with 2 children, who worked part time for extra money. I was a prime candidate for MK. I wanted to be successful and I wanted my husband and HIS family to be proud of me. I had a dysfunctional child hood growing up so all the “surface” support and love I saw hooked me immediately into the Pink Dream.

I was recruited in with $4,000+ in Mary Kay products. I started out strong, but here’s where it comes together. When I was in car qualification for my 1st of 3 cars, I was a little short on production during the 2nd month. My director suggested I just charge the needed amount of $3,000 because she was sure I would be earning that car. I did earn that car and thus began my cycle of credit card debit. It got deeper and worse each month. My credit cards became a stone around my neck.

I hid my debt for a while, but then my husband found out. We took a second mortgage on our first home which we didn’t even have to have a down payment for because our credit score was so good. After we did this I just knew I could start with a clean slate and really make money. Wrong! Before long I was back into the same mess. Why?? Why? Wasn’t I successful? I was driving a “free” car, after all.

Now I know (even though I hate to admit it) I was emotionally manipulated. I heard about how I was a leader in our unit and needed to perform. (Remember the woman inside who was so desperate for someone to love her and see her as someone valuable?) My team was looking to me. To fail at Mary Kay would be to fail them.

I thought my children needed a mother who was stable and successful. Becoming a director was a gift to THEM, in my mind. Being a director was the only way a person like me could ever make a living. How many times did I hear, “What are you going to do, wait tables?” I was convinced that outside of Mary Kay I was nothing, I could never become anything. Mary Kay was the ONLY way.

Because of the emotional abuse I had suffered from my mother growing up and the “abusive” situation I was in with my mother-in-law, I didn’t want to disappoint my senior director whom I thought cared so much about me. So I charged my credit cards and recruited on and on. I repeated everything I was taught.

I went through a divorce (no fault of Mary Kay) and became a single mother trying to survive on my Mary Kay income. I was told that I should NOT get a job outside of Mary Kay. People won’t recruit if they think you can’t make a full time income in Mary Kay. Your unit will fall apart if you start working for someone else.

They convinced me that I was going through a temporary “down time” and I could work my way out of it. I was trying to make a living for me and my children plus absorb all the new director start-up costs.

My husband and I filed bankruptcy when we divorced, so I had no credit available. My children and I lived on CASH only. I thought I was doing so much worse than other directors, but thanks to Pink Truth I now know they just had the credit cards to LOOK successful.

My production came from actual consultants, because I didn’t have the option of charging production on a credit card. I never felt good about getting women started with the big inventory packages. I just saw too many women with no sales and thousands of dollars of Mary Kay debt. But the attitude at all the director meetings was that everyone was sooooooo successful.

In all honesty I should have been getting food stamps for me and my children and some kind of Medicaid. But I was so brainwashed into the idea of looking the part of a successful director. Well successful directors don’t apply for food stamps. (After all how could I warm chatter women who just signed me up for food stamps?)

I felt guilty all the time. I needed to be working. I had to be on the phone in the evenings. Where were my children? Being quiet while Mommy “worked”. I was trying to set up those appointments. During the day, I had to warm chatter to get those new leads. It was an awful endless cycle. My church family prayed for me to be blessed. What I really needed them to know was my gas had been shut off and I needed help getting the rent paid.

Now God didn’t abandon me and my children. He did take care of us, but I am sure it would have been easier other ways. My prayer life and relationship with the Lord became focused on one thing: Me asking Him to help with my Mary Kay business. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

I suffered and so did my children. After a few years of being single, I remarried. My new husband never complained about Mary Kay. He prayed with me that God would bless my efforts and bless the businesses of the women in my unit.

We rejoiced together every month that my unit hit $5,000 in production. But still there was never money. My husband’s income was covering my Mary Kay expenses. I would tell him I just needed to get back on my feet. When the day came that the company was about to pick up my career car and my director status was in jeopardy with the company because I owed them money, I sat down and started doing the math. We should have been able to live on my husband’s income just fine without me even working. Not richly, but just fine.

Slowly the pieces started coming into place. It took several months and then I started asking myself, “Why am I paying so much money to be in Mary Kay?”

I started seriously considering getting out I saw a comment left on a blog with a link to Pink Truth. I peeked at the site and I started to see myself in so many ways—I couldn’t believe it! There were my life and my experiences staring out at me.

I was so ashamed of myself and I felt so much guilt I had been hiding it all these years. I truly thought I was the only one!!! Truly!!! I am hurting so deeply over the choices I have made over the past several years. I was so naive. I just thought I needed to get my act together. I thought I needed to find my superstar. I though I needed to get my personal business up and running. I thought I needed to get right on my thought process. On and on…

I am considering sending back my product. I am scared of what my senior director will say. I am certain it will be the end of our relationship. It is so sad to say, but I think our relationship has been about what I could do for her.

If you are reading this then I want to tell you something. You are great and you can be successful outside of Mary Kay. We hear so much about how bad the JOB world is. Be proud of what you do and the contribution you make to your family and your community. Please do not base your self-esteem on what the pink ladies around you are saying. I have a new focus on my relationship with Christ. He is the center NOT Mary Kay. God sent his son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for you. That is all the assurance you will ever need about your worth and value.


Smarter Now


  1. “Why am I paying so much money to be in Mary Kay?”

    If only every MLM participant could see just how much their MLM is costing them. Just like gamblers, they believe success is always “just around the corner”, but that corner is never rounded, while the losses just continue to grow.

    I am so glad you have seen the light, OP and I pray for the best for you and your family going forward. And I am grateful that you will no longer be promoting the false promises of Mary Kay!

    PS. If your relationship with your director is based solely on your orders, return all of that inventory now. She does not deserve you as a friend. If she gets nasty, block her immediately.

  2. I went through a divorce (no fault of Mary Kay)
    My husband and I filed bankruptcy when we divorced, so I had no credit available.

    Without knowing the exact circumstances, I can’t help but feel that MK DID have a negative effect on her marriage. Especially as both she and her first husband had to file for bankruptcy when they divorced .

  3. “I am considering sending back my product. I am scared of what my senior director will say. I am certain it will be the end of our relationship. It is so sad to say, but I think our relationship has been about what I could do for her.”

    I would be very interested to know what percentage of people who wind up in MLM come from an abusive or dysfunctional background, especially abusive mothers. I’m guessing it would be quite a lot. Trying to win the affection and approval of the one person who’s supposed to love, protect, and unconditionally support you and failing royally screws up your thinking, including latching on to others in an attempt to get some sort of validation. MK love bombing is like a blowtorch to moths in that sense. What could be better? A bunch of (apparently) successful and (apparently) self-secure women who (apparently) think you’re the cat’s ass.

    The abuse conditions you to be a people pleaser in hopes of staving off further abuse, so you’re all too willing to go along with the frontloading, the warm stalking, the production stretching, all the other stuff you know is wrong and don’t want to do, out of fear that that love will be yanked away again. In an abusive situation, the goalposts are constantly moving so you’re on board with shifting requirements. You follow the made-up rules without question, because questioning just gets you in trouble.

    The most insidious thing is that you normalize the abuse. It’s your brain’s attempt to protect itself and allow you to function. So you don’t question what’s absurd to an outside observer: going into crushing debt to maintain the outward appearance of success. Excusing it, explaining it away, getting defensive when called on it. The lie is all you have, so you protect it with everything you’ve got.

    The hardest part of moving out of that mindset is seeing the dysfunction for what it is, so congratulations. You’ve done that. I’m 1000% serious here: it’s like living your entire life inside a cave and then being dragged out into the sunlight. It’s mindblowing and feels like your whole world is crumbling away, and the temptation is there to retreat back into the cave because it’s familiar.

    The danger now is people trying to drag you back into the cave – your director and the rest of the MK bunch are going to do everything they can to hold on to you, including deploying their most deadly weapon: threatening to withdraw that “love” that’s kept you in check all these years. You’ve got to be ready for it and keep in mind that the problem isn’t with you, it’s them. They have their own demons that are keeping them enmeshed in the MK life, but it’s not your job to solve their problems for them.

    Send back your inventory. You need that money to take care of, first of all, YOURSELF so that you can be a happy, healthy mother and wife. Your director will be mad and will abandon you. That same scenario has been recounted here so many times and it’s heartbreaking, but it’s true. It’s not you; it’s her. Really.

    Since you’re a spiritual woman, please remember that God made you in his image, the pinnacle of his creation. He loves you and wants you to be happy. Listen to him in your prayers and hear what he wants for you,not what you’ve been told to want by the people who only want to control you for their own purposes.

    You’ve got a rough road ahead, but I’m rooting for you {{{}}}

  4. “I am hurting so deeply over the choices I have made over the past several years.” You were manipulated and gaslighted into those actions – you didn’t have real choices with all the facts on the table.

    “Being a director was the only way a person like me could ever make a living. How many times did I hear, “What are you going to do, wait tables?”” … I have more respect for a coffee shop waitress than an MLM upliner using these tactics to make money. And I’m pretty sure the waitress makes more money than most directors.

    “I was convinced that outside of Mary Kay I was nothing, I could never become anything. Mary Kay was the ONLY way.” This was a deliberate tactic by the upline, to keep you under control. It’s also a tactic used by abusers – rip your confidence down so you think you can’t survive without them.

    • ‘didn’t have real choices with all the facts on the table’

      Yep. That’s why Pink Truth is so helpful: by laying out those pesky facts on our virtual table and inviting anyone to take a look so that they can make a fair and informed decision on whether to take on a Mary Kay “business”. It’s a public service, really.

  5. There is absolutely nothing wrong with waiting tables, working retail (at places where people actually WANT to shop), cleaning houses, or making coffee. They are all honorable jobs that can provide a steady income.

    Your senior director, like so many others, has manipulated you. The gas lighting, preying on your emotions and history — this is what they do. You ARE worth more than any MLM director knows.

    Send that product back. Recoup what you can to pay off debts. Your senior is only your “friend” because the relationship benefits HER. Remember there are a lot of other people out there who do love you unconditionallly.

  6. I agree with everyone here SEND THE PRODUCT BACK (whatever is eligible at this point) and get out! Things will not get better and you will continue to lose money if you stay in. Don’t let this “fauxpportinity” continue to ruin you and your family. You are stronger than you know.

  7. I started with Mary Kay to help a friend. My first “sales” call is 15 minutes from now. I’m currently listening to the propaganda audio.

    I already figured out that this is MLM and a cult.

    Ain’t NO WAY I’m going to do this!!!!🤣🤣🤣🤣🥰

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. Welcome to a community that supports you regardless of your ability to pay to play. I pray that your journey back to yourself is a smooth one. In my case, a good therapist was a must! You’ll lose friends, but the ones who fade away or outright attack you were never really your friends anyway. And you’ll find something so much more precious—your true self and your real worth.

    Rest assured, you’ll get through this, even stronger than you were before. And we’re here for you as you do.

  9. “I am considering sending back my product. I am scared of what my senior director will say. I am certain it will be the end of our relationship.”

    With all due respect, is that relationship really that important to you? Deep down?

    As a recovering people-pleaser myself, I can understand it if you dread her disapproval. But if she only cares about you when she’s making a commission off you, you never were never really friends anyway. You weren’t even buying her approval; you were just renting it on a month-to-month basis.

    Returning those unsold products might take some courage on your part (which I totally understand!), but it sounds like your family really could use the money right now. Don’t be afraid to put your family first. And just think how relieved you’ll feel when all the Mary Kay clutter is finally out of your house forever.

    It’s okay if your director gets angry. It’s okay if she drops any pretense of friendship with you. The freedom you gain will be well worth it.


Comments are closed.

Related Posts