Some of you may be familiar with Jamie the Very Worst Missionary. If not, the short story is she and her husband were missionaries in Costa Rica (they’re now in California), and she’s awesome. She is only about 3% what you’d expect a Christian missionary to be, and that 3% is just that she’s a Christian. The tagline on her blog says, “inappropriate remarks, embarrassing antics, and generally lame observations from a Christian missionary,” and her latest post is a picture of her cat in a neglige. Not what you’d typically expect from a missionary.
Some of you may know that right out of college, I was a Mary Kay consultant. If not, the short story is that I was a Mary Kay consultant. Also, if you look at pictures of me from that time, my skin looked AWESOME.
I never considered myself to be a very good Mary Kay lady, partly because my mom was my only real customer, partly because I felt duped into spending a whole bunch of money on a whole bunch of products that I never sold, and partly because I just didn’t feel comfortable with myself in the role. I had to wear a suit and pumps and pantyhose, and I had to chat people up – complete strangers – and give them eye shadow samples. It just wasn’t me at all.
I don’t blame anyone for any of this. The friend who got me to sign up wasn’t manipulative or pushy at all. She was a very sweet friend who simply believed in the product and the business opportunity, and she wanted to offer me that opportunity. I still appreciate her for that.
I was never successful as a Mary Kay lady, though, and when I moved to New York for grad school, I sold all of my product back to the company and got out of the business.
I consider my time in New York to be the time when I really started discovering myself and becoming who I wanted to be, who I truly am. Back when I had an eHarmony account, one of the profile questions asked me to tell about a person who had influenced me the most (besides my parents). I said that rather than a person, I would have to say the whole of New York City had influenced me the most because it’s a safe place to experiment with who you are and make decisions about who you are becoming. If you want to wear a Spiderman costume every day, NOBODY CARES. The tourists will look at you in wonder, and the locals will look at you with amusement if they notice you at all, but no one will judge your fashion choice. New York was where I started slashing up my t-shirts and wearing hats. It was where I started cuffing my jeans. It was where I started experimenting with more unusual/daring hairstyles. It was where I got my nose pierced. These were all pretty tame experiments as fashion/lifestyle experiments go, but for a girl from Wilkesboro, NC, they felt risky.
I am eternally grateful for my time in NYC because it helped me to discover who I am, and to be comfortable with myself. If I could go back and do it again, I would, and I would push myself even further out of my comfort zone because I loved who I became there (in spite of my sour subway face).
I say all of that to lead up to this. Back in May, a friend who was also engaged won a free Mary Kay mini-facial and was allowed to bring friends. She invited me, and I went. It was the first time I’d used Mary Kay in about ten years, and I loved it all over again. The product, that is. The sales pitch, the business opportunity, the scripted feeling of it all, I could do without, but the product, I absolutely love.
And since I’m cheap, and as a consultant, you get 50% off, I signed up again to sell.
Well, not really to sell. Just to get the discount.
But I keep feeling like there’s something more to this thing. Like now that I know myself better and am more comfortable in my own skin, and now that I know my limits and am REALLY good at saying “No,” now I might be the Mary Kay lady that people who normally hate Mary Kay ladies like. Now I might be able to set my discomfort and ego and the pressure of “should” aside and let people make their own decisions about a product without it affecting my own personal approval rating. And now, I might be able to have some fun with it.
Beth, the Very Worst Mary Kay Lady
Here’s what I propose and promise. If you’ve ever been curious about Mary Kay, or if you think it’s grandma makeup that you would never in a million years use, or if you had a traumatic experience in a Target fitting room with a pushy MK lady trying to give you her business card, an eye shadow sample and a Tootsie Roll, or if you just love pretty things and feeling good about yourself, hit me up.
And I promise I will:
- NEVER use the word “pamper” (beyond this sentence).
- NEVER call you all cheerleader-excited and tell you about a great opportunity I have for you (unless that opportunity involves squirrels on water skis, concert tickets, auditions for So You Think You Can Dance, booze, a scavenger hunt, murder mystery dinner theater, or meeting a famous person).
- NEVER push you to purchase anything. If you like it, and you want it, you can buy it. Just like at Target. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. Simple as that.
- ALWAYS answer all your questions about starting/running a MK business honestly. Completely honestly.
- NEVER coerce you into giving me your friends’ names and phone numbers and then harass them to host a party.
- ALWAYS work with you to have a party if you want to.
- ALWAYS wear something I’m comfortable in to your party, which probably means jeans. Shoes optional.
- NEVER be upset if nobody comes to your party, or if you host one and nobody buys anything.
- NEVER speak to you from a script.
- NEVER attempt manipulate you in any way.
- ALWAYS work with you to make you look however you want. If you want something classic, done. If you want something punk, I would LOVE to make that happen.
- ALWAYS be completely myself.
- ALWAYS encourage you to be completely yourself.
- ALWAYS respect you and think you are beautiful no matter what.
- NEVER put my business or money ahead of authentic connections with people.
These promises may make me the very worst Mary Kay lady, but they may also make me the most content.