Folks, this is a long blog post, but I have SO MUCH to say about last night. So settle in and enjoy.
Last week a former coworker and friend of mine called me up to ask if I would be a 'face model' at her upcoming Mary Kay meeting, followed by dinner afterward. In a moment of weakness, I assented, though I knew I'd likely be subjected to some stupid sales pitch.
I had no idea.
Rebecca picked me up and was actually on time (Jess will laugh at this). We headed south and ended up at a nondescript, two-story, musty building. We journeyed to the second floor, and there…
…at the end of the hall…
…were the strangest two rooms I have ever seen in my life. Dark paneling draped in pink and lace. Folding chairs adorned with makeshift chair covers that spelled out M-A-R-Y K-A-Y. But the piece de resistance, the crowning jewel of the entire room, was this:
Oh. My. God. This was given a place of prominence just the way churches have the requisite picture of Jesus up front by the altar.
Things didn't get any better. I was ushered into a second room (the 'Diva Room') and assaulted by Rebecca's director or whatever, Sue, who gave me a questionnaire asking me what was wrong with my skin (nothing, but I made something up); to which cosmetic brands I was loyal (I said none, because I knew better than to give her an opening). Then the real fun started. They wanted to give me a diva makeover, so she pulled out two possible palettes — brown, and brown.
Sue: "What eye colors do you usually wear? Brown is the best color for blue eyes."
Me: "Um, brown, actually."
Sue (holding up the two palettes): "Well, which group is closest to what you wear?"
Me: "Um, they both are. They're nearly identical. Let me just pick one. That one." (pointing to brown, naturally)
While I applied all this expensive, yet unimpressive makeup –which let me just say I was happy to apply myself so I could avoid being painted up like a two-dollar whore — Sue proselytized to me about the virtues of being a Mary Kay consultant. One of the biggest draws, according to Sue, was that you don't have to compromise faith or family. Mary Kay believes in God first, family second, job third. If that weren't offensive enough to my beliefs, she went on to note that I work for attorneys, and said, "Oh, I'll bet those lawyers don't like for you to talk much about God." That stopped me in my tracks, and I'm certain my face registered disbelief, if she were savvy enough to catch on before I recovered. I'm sure my polite smile faltered. See, first of all, we don't believe in that order of priority in my family. To us, that's just crazy talk. Family, to us, is everything. Above all else. Whatever other people choose to believe is just dandy with us, but nobody should assume like-mindedness due solely to lack of objection. Secondly, I don't like talking much about her god or anybody else's — nevermind what my employers believe. That topic, however, is for another post.
I suffered through her sales pitch, then it was time for me to go into the main room to 'model' my makeup.
Sue: "Don't worry. They'll be nice to you."
Me: "Well, I'm sure they will. It wouldn't serve them well to be snarky, would it?"
Everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed over my makeup, then I had to sit in the general meeting and wait for Rebecca to be done. Oh my god. More god stuff. God wants this, and God wants that. If I had known I'd be attending a service of the Church of Mary Kay, I would soooooooo have declined, and I'm certain Rebecca knew that, knowing my feelings on the subject. Then they started talking about how to get the coveted red jacket. It seems the red jacket is something you are allowed to wear once you have recruited three people into Mary Kay. Then you're supposed to wear it with a white blouse and black skirt (because Mary Kay does not like women wearing pants, my god), to the Mary Kay conferences.
Sue: "I ordered my red jacket after I had two recruits, and I would wear it in my house while I made phone calls."
I'm not very good at hiding my feelings, and I can only hope nobody was looking directly at me when she said that.
Mary Kay is a cult for the following reasons:
1. Mary Kay is an authoritarian pyramid structure with authority at the top;
2. They actively and knowingly use shady, deceptive, and subversive tactics to recruit new members, including the promise of huge tax deductions, increased self-confidence, and financial independence;
3. They keep those new members hooked with the promise of moving up in the ranks and the accoutrements to display one's rank; i.e. red jacket and other uniform dress, diamond bees, pins, and of course — the Mary Kay car program;
4. The leadership dictates how members should think, act, and feel — what types of clothes to wear, what 'scripts' to use when recruiting, etc., all the while maintaining that members may run their business 'any way they like;'
5. The group is preoccupied with making money in a pyramidic fashion — every time a consultant recruits a new consultant, she gets a commission from that new member's purchases;
6. They participate in rituals and cult-speak, such as this weird 3-claps-in-unison phenomenon I heard over and over last night, possibly called the 'power clap;' and
7. They believe and express that God somehow approves of their decision to sell Mary Kay and wants them to become rich from cosmetics sales.
After the meeting, I stressed to Rebecca that she was involved in a cult, to no avail. Ah, well. Opiate of the masses.