time-is-moneyA reader of Pink Truth shares this story of her mother, who has been in Mary Kay for 25 years. For all those former Mary Kay consultants who lost money and were told they didn’t try hard enough or weren’t in long enough….

I just need a place to rant. I am 25 and my mom has been doing Mary Kay for 25 years. Every time she went to a big Mary Kay event, she got excited and placed a big order, even though she didn’t sell much of her products. Yes, she went into debt to place these orders.

I just don’t understand why she can’t see or won’t accept that after 25 years, she’s not and will never make a profit from Mary Kay.

I have tried to bring it up to her before that I think it’s all a big scheme but she goes off saying it’s not a scheme and all the reasons for her not being successful are to blame on herself for not being more outgoing with it. It turned out to be a big blow out because I was trying to show her Pink Truth but she just said that whoever wrote the articles was nothing more than a dumbass who was a failure at Mary Kay.

When I was younger my mom was spending every weekend dragging me to Mary Kay classes with her. Even then she was not turning a profit. So if she was doing more then and wasn’t profiting, what makes her think now that she’s less active that she’s going to suddenly turn a profit?

I hate the yearly seminars and how they get her hopes and dreams high. Mary Kay seems to always emphasize dreaming, and that’s all my mom will ever get from Mary Kay… a dream. She stresses herself out if she can’t get in a big order for her director, and then the product ends up sitting there for months on her shelves.

We recently helped her clean and move, in the process we threw away so many old MK products. I tried to bring it up to her about how much we had to throw away in hopes she would get the hint that I thought continuing to place orders is a bad idea. She stated back that oh those products had been discontinued. Well if you hadn’t order so much of them in the first place and also were able to sell them then you wouldn’t have been stuck with them and wasted all that money!!

I feel like she’s so brainwashed when it comes to MK. I’m so disappointed with her that she keeps going into debt to place orders. If you can’t make enough money in MK to place an order, something is wrong. The thing is that each order won’t even be good enough. I know her director will be on her ass to place more and more orders. My mom will be in tears stressing because her director is on her to place an expensive order when she doesn’t even have the money to place one to begin with. It sick to hassle and guilt trip a person to tears when they just financially are unable to place an order.

I’m sick of all the money my mother wastes on MK and never getting anywhere with it. How would I even bring it up to her that I think it’s time for her to call it quits? She’s going to sell this product little by little and it will never be enough. When will it end of her being broke because she’s spent it all on orders, seminars, retreats, or whatever little flashy thing can come up with?

I would love to support my mother in the things she does, but I can never and will never support her in MK. It has and will always suck her dry. It’s hard to be vocal about why I don’t support her doing MK because she takes things so personally to begin with and would think I’m not supporting her herself. Even if I explained how I didn’t support her she will turn it out around to be about how I don’t support her and will skip over the fact it’s the MK I don’t support.

I guess she’s learned to guilt trip from MK because when I have rarely mentioned it she goes off on a tangent about how she always supports me with things that I do. Where does it end? How do I bring this up to her that I think she needs to get out, that it isn’t her that’s not productive but the way MK is set up? Even if she was two to three times more productive than she is now, it wouldn’t be enough.

I don’t want MK to own my mother’s life any longer. My mom shouldn’t be stressed out and financially tied up because of all the guilt tripping and empty hopes and dreams that come along with MK. I NEVER hear anyone my age talking about MK. People my age are interested in Sephora, MAC, or Lush. That’s closing the market on people who are willing to buy when there’s better products out there.

I don’t like that mom calls and basically badgers people to buy stuff and gets upset when they don’t. I hate MK and the way they can brainwash people. My mother is a pretty smart lady, I don’t understand how she hasn’t taken a step back and evaluated the situation of her MK. I don’t help her with calling my friends for classes or trying to get ahold of their mothers for one. I don’t want her badgering them or sucking them into signing up. I don’t want to give a chance for MK to get a hold on someone else like it has a hold on her.

Thank you for your website because it gives me so much relief that it isn’t just me that thinks it one huge fraud for most people and just how silly some of it all is. Sorry this is such a long rant, I just needed someone to hear me out. Thank you


  1. My dear sweet child. My children would have been sending a similar post if it hadn’t been for my toxic 2nd marriage that really brought me to my knees. It pulled every shred of the wool from my eyes. What’s that got to do with MK??

    It took ME waking up from that nightmare and start questioning everything in my life. Sound dramatic? Perhaps. We can coast along in our unknown misery until something dramatic/traumatic wakes us.

    Now, to help your momma wake up. She’s a smart lady, I can tell because she’s got a smart, compassionate child that she raised. Keep the old adage “you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” in mind. She’s got to come to the decision on her own. Don’t let yourself be damaged by this – these are her choices. Good on you for protecting by yourself and friends. Leaving an MLM, when you’re in deep, is like leaving an abusive relationship. It takes SEVEN attempts before someone gets out of the relationship and stays out and starts to heal.

    Listening obsessively to Dave Ramsey was my original inertia — I wanted to get rid of the debt I’d accrued during the bad marriage, so I thought, ok, I’ll sell MK to make it happen!! I decided I would no longer “team build” I would just sell. I had a good customer base, but it was obnoxious when I was actually trying to track the sales and my profits (if you treat it like a business, it’ll pay you like a business!). It was NOT SIMPLE!! I had moved, so I did a lot of shipping. Should I “make” them pay shipping? At what amount could I offer it free? What about a gift with purchase? Did I have the product on hand to ship myself, or would I need to direct ship it? Should I get a service to run postage or continue going to the post office? It was a nightmare I was FINALLY READY TO ADDRESS {pardon the pun 😆} This is only one little slice of my waking up from MK! There’s so much more. I don’t think it was helpful, though, other than to give you hope she could wake up. Hopefully another PT poster will have some insight!

    There’s hope! Many blessings to you as you clearly love your mother and want her to enjoy life.

  2. OP, Intrigue is wise to recommend a soft touch. There are a couple ways you can handle your mom. One is strictly passive. “Mom I love you and will support you in anything you do, but I can’t support your involvent in Mary Kay.”

    The other is active, “Mom I am not interested in the Mary Kay business for myself, but I am a big supporter of YOU! I will help you create and keep an accurate ledger of your Mary Kay business, and help you set profit goals and loss limits, and help you follow through on those. I can come by once a week to help you update that ledger to keep it accurate and complete. How does that sound?”

    You can then let her see for herself what is going on, and you can gently say, “Okay, you’ve reached your loss limit (again). What’s next? Do we further increase your loss limit, or do you stop ordering?” That conversation will eventually get tiring for her.

    But you can’t push her. Be supportive of her and the ledger, without judging. The numbers will do all the talking. She we likely get embarrassed knowing you know how much she is losing. If she decides to continue without you, you can remind her that you offered to support her in her MK business but she refused to accept your support.

    Note: That ledger must include every expenditure, and every hour spent on her business. Every order, every stamp, event expenses, gas, phone call, cold calling time…everything.

    • The other is active, “Mom I am not interested in the Mary Kay business for myself, but I am a big supporter of YOU! I will help you create and keep an accurate ledger of your Mary Kay business, and help you set profit goals and loss limits, and help you follow through on those. I can come by once a week to help you update that ledger to keep it accurate and complete. How does that sound?”

      This is brilliant.

      People who are deeply invested in something destructive (a cult, an ill-advised romance, or some sort of scam) are seldom receptive when you confront them directly. It’s very hard to logically talk them out of something, when their reasons were never based on logic to begin with. Sometimes the best approach is to let them figure out their mistakes for themselves, with a little gentle guidance, of course.

      But it’s really, really hard. I was once a member of a highly controlling church which some consider a cult. Any attack on my church felt like an attack on me personally. It became a wedge between my parents and me. When I finally started to realize I’d made a mistake, their anger at the cult actually kept me from going to them for help. That last bit sounds weird as I type it, but at the time, it made sense. That’s how cults mess with your mind. And make no mistake, Mary Kay functions as a cult.

      Anyway, the ledger sounds like a wonderful idea. The ledger gets to be “the bad guy,” instead of the writer.

  3. OP, I am so sorry for what you’re dealing with. But for the grace of God, there I’d be.

    My breaking point was when I decided I would no longer put orders on a credit card. If I didn’t have the money in my MK bank account, I would not order. Full stop. Of course, my unit failed within three months, because it wasn’t sustainable without debt.

    The problem is that your mom (and the rest of us who were deep in the Pink Fog) has her identity wrapped up in her MK business. It’s failing because she is. She’s failing because it is. She’s being told, over and over and over again, that the only way to fail in Mary Kay is to quit. Success is just the next phone call or party or interview away.

    It’s a process to separate your identity from this business, especially when you’re continually going to events, where the sole purpose is to re-inculcate you into the cult. It’s a process your community can support you through, but it must be done alone.

    In conjunction with Data Junkie’s excellent advice above, I would add something about how you hate watching her get so stressed out with debt and bills. She wants MK to be the answer, so walk through the MK numbers with her (they’re going to be ridiculous, don’t react!)

    “Mom, can I help you with your budget? (Insert that you’re listening to Dave Ramsey, or you just learned this new flashy money management thing, or whatever works for you and your relationship with your mom.) Cool. Ok, so you need $2,000 per month to break even, right? If we want to make that happen with Mary Kay, how much do you need to sell? ($5,000.) That sounds like a lot, but I know you’re a hard worker! What does that mean in terms of work? (21 faces/week, 22ish hours.) Gosh, that’s not many hours. Does that include all the work you do for your business? (Well, no. That doesn’t count the time booking appointments, finding people to call, managing inventory, office management, event attendance, on and on and on. It’s just the time in front of people, that’s how my director taught me to manage time!) Oh, gotcha. So how much time do you need for all those other things? (Blank stare) Well, it’s fine, I know you can do it! So let’s implement this ledger idea from Data Junkie. I’d love to be your accountability partner!

    When she fails, because she will (she’s NEVER done 21 faces in a week, much less consistently for the whole month!), she’s going to feel like a failure. Here’s the key question. “Mom, I watched you work so hard all month. Is this how you want your life to look every month?” That, plus no debt, plus black and white numbers, plus you getting on her side against something else, will help.

    None of this is a magic bullet. She likely won’t be able to quit immediately. But if you can shift her thinking, you’re most of the way to the solution. And you MUST take the soft touch and get on her side, because all her “mentors” are insisting that there are all these people out there in the world who are “negative nellies,” “misery loving company,” and “dream stealers.” All criticism of the company is negativity, and an attack on her personally. Ask lots of questions, get on her side, and refrain from criticizing.

    Good luck!

  4. Ah, good old DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. My own mother was an 8th degree black belt at it and was just as volatile. I can’t tell you how many tearful apologies I offered up for nasty shit SHE said, common sense advice, or mild corrections.

    Unfortunately, she’s decided that she’s MK4LYF, and unless something happens to pop her bubble, you won’t be able to snap her out of it. Intrigue’s comparison to an abusive marriage and how hard it is to leave one is apt. The abuser will promise the moon and stars to keep the victim within their power; so will her MK upline. There are also paralells to addiction and other self-destructive behavior like hoarding and compulsive eating. The MK experience is scratching some kind of itch for her, no matter that now it’s a scabby bloody icky infected mess.

    You’re doing the right thing by protecting yourself and your friends from getting sucked into MK. As for handling your mom… chances are all you can do is redirect her when she starts going on about MK. “THat sucks, Mom. How’s Uncle Andrew’s sciatica?” If she won’t be redirected, that’s when the pizza guy rings the doorbell or the dog just dragged a live squirrel into the house, gotta go, bye.

  5. On Tuesday, we had a sales director, also in Mary Kay for 25 years, saying she had amassed enough money to retire, but she wasn’t satisfied with her retirement send off. She wrote, “My work put money in many pockets.”

    And I asked, “What kind of work was that?”

    Wednesday’s article gives us an answer. The daughter shares more insight about the retiree’s “work” as a sales director:

    “I know her director will be on her ass to place more and more orders. My mom will be in tears stressing because her director is on her to place an expensive order when she doesn’t even have the money to place one to begin with. It sick to hassle and guilt trip a person to tears when they just financially are unable to place an order.”

    Belief-cult tactics can really mess with your head, by design. We have a willing-victim mom who wants to be the person who is abusing her. Yesterday’s abuser also seemed to be in two minds. There is so much more to learn from MLM than product sales issues.

    The Wikipedia page on “Cognitive Dissonance” is good info.


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