Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Mary Kay culture

E. is getting married in Wales in a few days. She won a glamour makeover from MaryKay and was allowed to bring guests if she wanted. So she had six of women come along for moral support, myself included. Some of the teens did not need makeup in any way and in fact the power and foundation detracted from their natural rosy glow.

It was held in a conference room at the Park Inn. There were 7 MaryKay ladies there and 30 women. The tables had little beauty stations with a mirror and a styrofoam palate on which your products to be tested were placed. And we all put our own makeup on with instruction from Jessica.

The makeup was not very glamorous. Very subtle and neutral, really. at least in my case. We spent most of our time giggling and goofing around. the instruction was pretty basic and at the end of it all I looked like me except tanner and a little more plastic. Their products for people of color have room for improvement.

The interesting part was the way the women talked about the company. Apparently there are three products for which sales and prices never drop: alcohol, cigarettes, and cosmetics. This making makeup and "beauty" the third topselling legal addictive substance. Scary. that's a lot of cream purchased for self-esteem. The woman stressed that it is not in selling product that you make your money, it is in the rotating reorders once a woman is hooked on a brand of cleanser or a color of eyeshadow. MaryKay creates economic opportunities for women but does so by preying on their fears and insecurities. It's pyramid scheme of beauty. One could argue that these feelings are inescapable in this world and at least this way women participate in a kind of profit sharing. (Yeah. that.)

This style of marketing and this brand of corporate culture has been around for a while. Tupperware is the classic example. There's a documentary about Tupperware that was shown on PBS, fascinating.

It has certainly been an economic opportunity for women historically and now internationally. Women are selling MaryKay in 48 countries internationally. I heard somewhere that MaryKay is developing a strong presence in Brazil.

They were not just there to sell you eyeshadow, they were there to sell you on the MaryKay way too. It's a fusion of entrepreneurial hustle and girl culture, economic empowerment and the feminine mystique.

The core principles of MaryKay: God first, family, then career. The products are sold along with ideas.

Feminism is not just for women who eat vegan and don't shave their legs. In fact maybe a MaryKay party is perfect place to have a conversation about what it means to be a woman and what our lives are like and what each of us wants for ourselves, our children and our world.

MaryKay is marketing through building networks and forging relationships. On a sociological level, I was fascinated. If I could stop chewing my nails and mocking everything I would seriously consider becoming a MaryKay lady, myself.
Look out world, I am gunning for a biodiesel fueled pink cadillac!

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