Well, this isn’t terribly surprising, but it is terribly sad.
Virginia Sole-Smith offers a preview of her article “The Pink Pyramid Scheme: How Mary Kay Cosmetics Sells Women on ‘Having It All'” appears in the August issue of Harper’s. I’m looking forward to getting a copy; though Katie J.M. Baker offers salient excerpts at Jezebel.
I’m a bit wary of home-based sales enterprises. I’ve attended parties for Mary Kay, Silpada, Pampered Chef, Scentsy, and Lia Sophia. I purchased items at some of them; I even hosted a party.
But I never imagined earning a living through it. Or even a partial living. As Sole-Smith notes, the “business model is designed primarily to profit from, rather than enrich, its workforce.” That alone, on principle, irritates me.
Then there’s Sole-Smith’s better point about the woman-focused sales pitch for this model (flexible hours, reliance on friends and neighbors). She caused me to adjust my enthusiasm for Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic piece last month (soon to be a book!):
…the question of how to have it all shouldn’t be segregated into a “big girlfriends club…” Fifty years after [Mary Kay] Ash was trying to figure out how women could earn money while still being good mothers and wives, Slaughter can start the same conversation more openly, but although she calls for systemic change, she still reverts to a “maternal imperative” to explain why women seem to care more about these things than men… In fact, no one will have it all as long as these kinds of assumptions underlie the conversation, and as long as women remain afraid that finding fulfillment in work means their families won’t feel loved.
If you want or need to work and support yourself or your family, don’t think like a woman. Don’t think like a man. Think for yourself.