Imagine approaching a stranger in public, pointing out something about them that you perceive as a flaw (like their weight or their thin hair), and then offering to let them pay you to solve it. Wouldn’t that feel absolutely absurd? If you said yes, you’re probably not an MLM rep.
A few days ago, I posted a selfie on Instagram with the following caption:
“I am uploading this selfie because I think I look pretty in it. That’s all. No other reason. You’re allowed to feel pretty. You are beautiful as you are. Post a selfie if you want. You’ll never be back to this day. Don’t waste it pretending you don’t know you’re beautiful. #selfie #fat #happy”
I was having a good day. There was a lot of Lizzo and Meghan Trainor on my playlist, and I didn’t feel self-conscious, unattractive, or unworthy. I was comfy in my fat body that day, not beating myself up. I had time for a shower and hair and makeup. It was just a rare day for a fat mom of three who has been basically trapped at home for the last six months dealing with a pandemic, virtual schooling, a preschooler with special needs, and an infant.
So, clearly this was the perfect time for a rep from a multi-level marketing company to swoop in and offer to “help me.”
Help me with what? Oh, well, apparently this bitch “noticed my part looked a little sparse” and asked if I’m interested in buying hair regrowth products.
I ignored her. I try to always ignore MLM reps who offer to sell me solutions to problems I didn’t say I had. (Fat girls have to be pretty good at this.)
But just a few hours later, another rep tumbled into my DMs asking if I’d heard of the same damn MLM. Instead of ignoring her, I asked this one why she thinks I’d be a customer for her, and she didn’t have the audacity to actually point out my thin hair. She didn’t really have a legit answer either.
I try so hard not to let outside opinions get to me, but I’m a human being, and that just sucked. I went from feeling so good about myself to just thinking about my thin hair all night.
There was just no reason for it. I posted a photo with a caption that was clearly intended to validate and edify people right where they are, no modifications required.
I wanted other women to see it and think, “Hell yeah. I’m beautiful, too! Here’s a photo of my rockin’ face and/or my bangin’ body.”
I didn’t want a reminder about my thin hair. I just wanted to create a moment of positive community because it’s a tough fricking time, and everyone can use the reminder that they’re amazing and gorgeous.
The rude-ass MLM reps weren’t wrong. My part is sparse. I used a lot of products to make it less obvious, but even after all that, I don’t look like I have thick hair unless I clip in extensions, which I can’t always do because they’re hard to hide. I’ve been dealing with genetic and hormonal hair loss since I was 20. (Thanks, PCOS.) I also lost some hair this spring because I had a baby. That hair is coming back, but it’s just short, spiky and weird right now. I’ve still got a very thin, fine head of hair with some places where the loss is apparent. It isn’t going to get better. I make the most of what I’ve got left.
I’m grateful for the hair I do have. I know some people lose enough that they can no longer camouflage the loss, and that is a different level of frustration. My hair isn’t my favorite feature, but I make it work for me the best I can.
Ask any woman in my position. Some level of disappointment is pretty much universal when you start noticing your hair coming out. Some people come to terms with it more easily than I have. But there are lots of us that will always wish we had the hair we once had. You might not even realize how much beautiful hair means to you until you don’t feel like you can ever have it again.
As you can tell, I’m self-conscious about it, so I do a lot to try to cover it up. Sometimes I can’t. It is what it is.
But I have never once in my life asked anyone on Instagram or anywhere else to help me with it. Not once. So, what in the actual hell made not one, but TWO women think it was a good idea to offer me their snake oil in response to a selfie where I said I felt pretty?!
I’ll tell you what made them think it was acceptable. Someone in their “upline” told them this is an acceptable sales strategy.
Well, guess what? It fucking isn’t.
MLMs, man. Always some bullshit.
Look, before you come running to your company’s defense, I’m not even against all MLMs; if you’re not being a douchebag, I’m not talking to you. I do think there are more ethical ways to get better products cheaper, but I’ve hosted parties for my friends to buy kitchen gadgets. I’ve bought overpriced monogrammed bags because one of my friends was on the bandwagon. I even briefly considered buying buttery soft leggings a few years ago. If you’re hawking some kind of revolutionary mascara or some nail polish strips or something, hit me up. I might take a look.
But I have a huge fucking problem with companies that specifically target people’s bodies and make promises — express or implied — that they can change whatever makes you sad. If you try to tell me you can make me thinner, cure what ails me with oils, regrow my hair, reverse the aging process, or make me otherwise more attractive to you, I will never trust your motives.
You know diet culture and impossible beauty standards make most women feel like we are falling short in some way.
Preying on that is reprehensible.
So, if you spend your “working hours” seeking out people who didn’t ask you for help and offering up your products…
If part of your sales strategy is to be perky and friendly while simultaneously letting people know you don’t think they’re good enough…
If your MLM strategy requires you to seek out vulnerable people and capitalize on their insecurity, you’re not a boss babe. You’re not an entrepreneur. You don’t own a business.
You’re a professional jerk.
You literally take people’s self-doubt to the bank by offering them a “cure” for their perceived inadequacy.
People see you coming and cringe. Nobody wants to get random, unsolicited emails about their insecurities, and while you might convince a few people, nobody really wants to spend their hard-earned cash on your almost certainly useless and possibly harmful potions.
You’re hurting people.
Hope the annual earnings of 180ish whopping dollars feel worth it.