The Art of Rationalization in Mary Kay

Written by Raisinberry

Most every Mary Kay sales director or recruiter possesses the skill of rationalization. Some of us don’t even realize this until we begin our journey back to reality.

As I travel my path back to the real world, my heart breaks to remember, and now see, what I did and what these people do. How does it start? Where and why do we begin the rationalization process?

Most women join Mary Kay on an emotional decision. They have just been to a big event and heard the pitch or were carried away in the fun and possible excitement of a skin care class, or they’ve met a super successful director. Immediately, we introduce them to the PINK BUBBLE world of Mary Kay. It is utopia. What could be better ? Who could argue with this line-up of targeted perfection?

  • We say we work with our priorities in order… Faith 1st, Family 2nd , career 3rd.
  • We tell them they will have a whole new circle of positive friends.
  • We say we don’t steal customers or recruits from each other.
  • We tell them they will have FREE training all during their Mary Kay career.
  • The sales director will match her efforts 110%. She will love & nurture her all the way… at the recruit’s speed.
  • We say we own our own businesses. We decide how much we will work.

Who wouldn’t want to be part of this ? This is the honeymoon stage of Mary Kay. For some of us it is short-lived. Some smart ladies wake up quickly and get out.

A few of us poor souls believe so much in the dream that we become directors. Is this where the rationalizing process begins? Having to achieve goals in targeted time frames means everything we do, every thought we have, is captive to accomplishing the goal.

We don’t steal customers but… if the other consultant is just an order-taker and isn’t giving “facials” regularly, then it is okay to sell to her customer because you have inventory. The customer deserves a consultant who really works.

We don’t steal recruits but… it is okay for her to join your team to help you. You guys work together and ultimately it is her choice. Her cousin is not really building a team right now.

We don’t order in the name of other consultants but… if she doesn’t care and all you need is one more active person, why not use your own card?

Most of us experience this dark side of Mary Kay really fast. We comfort the brokenhearted consultants by telling them “not everybody is like that”. We go livid when the across town Director snatches a recruit belonging to our consultant, but rationalize the commitment of another consultant when her customer is in our backyard.

In the back of our minds there remains a small nagging feeling that just won’t go away. We cannot linger long here in our thoughts for fear of giving up our dream. Keep moving! A laurel rested upon soon wilts!

But then, sometimes late at night, we allow our minds to explore nagging thoughts

  • Did I really see Senior Director keep drawing until her customer won? Nah… Somebody else would have said something.
  • I told that consultant I would match her effort 110% but they tell me it is a waste of time to do a grand opening on less than a star order. I am sure she will understand how busy I am. How else will I get that star order if I don’t cut it off somewhere?
  • If she can’t make time to come to the meeting, why on earth would she expect me to spend an hour on the phone with her?
  • She is supposed to be my friend. I know she is earning a car but that was my friend she recruited.

Then one day it hits us right between the eyes! I am becoming them. All the things I saw as a consultant coming up that looked fishy or just plain wrong to me… I am doing!

What do I do now? I need to get out but my ACTIVITY has become MY IDENTITY!

The sad truth of this company with the mission statement of “Enriching Women’s Lives” is that it destroys relationships with very good, demonstrated “justification” for us to follow. We are doing what we saw, and assessing our course of action based on whether it serves us or not.

If your friend doesn’t want to hold a class – well she is not a very good friend or just jealous because you are so happy now. No? Next!

If your husband doesn’t want you gone so much – he is just not supportive, keep working and he will change his mind when he sees the money.

We hear “people and love “ but it is all about the numbers and getting them any way you can! When we make a choice to recruit another’s friend or customer it is a choice to cause pain. A few years from now that director will not even remember the situation, but the friends and family of the “victim” will.

All of a sudden you begin to see, that achieving the goal at all costs is a situation that is directly opposite the Golden Rule and what we all knew to be true when we came through the doors. All those things promised at the guest event or skin care class are a distant memory once you get pushed onto the Mary Kay Career Path. A Mary Kay Sales Director, under the pressure to hit bonuses, Company contests, or just not lose her unit will make a rationalization for any bad thing she wants to do! She learned from the best!


  1. Rationalization is another of those double-edged mental swords. Your brain doesn’t want you to give in to fear or despair so it tries to comfort you: sure, you’re freezing and starving now, but eventually winter ends and game returns and the berries grow. OK, locusts ate your crops, but mankind has always had to deal with locusts and we get through somehow. Yes, having teeth pulled is scary and will be painful for a while, but you’ll feel so much better one those rotten teeth are gone.

    The dangerous part is that the brain will do this regardless of whether it’s beneficial or not. It can just as easily rationalize away bad stuff as not that bad. That’s why it’s so hard for people to escape abusive situations, addiction, risky behavior, and ignore illnesses until they land in the ER.

    In a cultlike atmosphere like MLM where the rationalization is systematically enforced to the point where it becomes dogma, it’s a small wonder that the long-timers can’t see outside the bubble. It’s hard to fight against your own brain’s insistence that everything is just fine, really, and everyone does it, even when you’ve alienated your friends and family, lost your savings, and spent years chasing and impossible dream.

    • “it’s a small wonder that the long-timers can’t see outside the bubble”

      So true. I am fascinated by the “serial MLMers” who throw good money after bad in one MLM after another.

      For the MK NSDs at least, they know exactly how the exploitation works, and their rationalizations have transformed firmly into justifications.

  2. A big lie is the first point: “We say we work with our priorities in order… Faith 1st, Family 2nd , career 3rd.”

    All of us…I mean all of us know this isn’t true in MK. Just try telling your SD or NSD that the best week for your family to schedule their vacation is during seminar. Or, try telling your recruiter that you don’t think it’s moral to pass out Look Books at church. What if your Bible study/worship team practice, etc. is the same night and time as the weekly unit meeting?

  3. I think some folks, specifically the of the serial variety – are addicted to what the MLM offers, like a gambling addict, or really any other addiction. The cheap prizes and fabricated accolades actually MEAN SOMETHING, to these serial MLM cultists. Meanwhile, those looking into the fog can only sadly shake their heads.

  4. I look back over the rationalizations I made to “keep my business going.” I went to the company events, I missed family events, I was a poster child for what a Good Consultant must be. The upline adored me and my commitment to my “business.” I realize that I was lovebombed endlessly, and because of the people pleasing person I used to be, I just kept making their priorities my own.
    I missed my grandma’s funeral to go to Seminar in 2015.
    My mom passed unexpectedly in June of 2021 (just June it!)… I was just one month into DIQ (I fell out in August and did not make qualifications.) This was a devastating time in my life.
    I did plenty of rationalizing throughout my MK years.
    I’m glad it’s in the rear view mirror. And remember, ladies, the windshield is a lot bigger than the rear view mirror. We need to look forward, not backwards!


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