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Not long ago, I was sitting at a local bar enjoying a quick bite with a friend.  As he and I dished about life and sports as guy and gal pals do, a lady comes over to our table and she says to me, “You’re beautiful.”  Flattered by her words, I tell her thank you and let her know that I really appreciate the compliment.  I intend to get back to the conversation with my friend, but she continues.  “And you’re very graceful.  I noticed you when you first walked in.  Are you a dancer?  You have the body of a dancer.”  At this point, I’m still flattered but I’m definitely getting a little uneasy.  I politely thank her again, and let her know that I am in no way a dancer and that I could only dream to have the body of one.  Surely our quick exchange would be over at this point and I’d be able to go on with the conversation I was clearly having when she walked over.  Yet, she continues: “May I ask what kind of skin care products you use?”

It is at that point it hits me and I could hear the voice of Florida Evans crying out in the background, “Damn, damn, damn!!!”…I’ve been caught by a freakin’ Mary Kay lady.

Is it just me, or are Mary Kay consultants highly aggressive?  As the young lady starts to explain to me that she owns her own Mary Kay business and would love to talk more about the products the company offers, I know instantly that it will NOT be easy to get rid of her.  Even after explaining to her that not only do I rarely wear make up but that I also have a really simple and natural skin care regimen that doesn’t involve a lot of products, she refuses to give up.  Now, I’m the kind of girl who rarely gives out my information.  I think long and hard about giving my number out even to men I’m actually interested in.  But the Mary Kay lady walked away with my phone number and email address.  That’s how aggressive she was.

I can think of at least three other separate occasions when I have been borderline accosted, in very similar fashion, by Mary Kay consultants.  Walking down the street, shopping, dining out, I’ve been blindsided by members of the pink brigade while doing all of these things.  It always starts out innocently, usually with a compliment, and just when you start feeling yourself and plan to give a quick “thank you” and strut off—they go in for the hard sale.  They do not take no for an answer.

I recently found out that I’m not alone.  A number of my friends have had very similar experiences with consultants.  In fact, one friend compared the tenacity of some Mary Kay business owners to that of followers of a certain religious faith who are usually very eager to share their beliefs.  We’ve decided that of the two, Mary Kay is definitely more aggressive.  They’re gangsta.  I respect it, but I’m simply not about that life.

While I’ve decided to, henceforth and forevermore, run in the opposite direction when a Mary Kay lady makes her presence known, I know that the company offers some very positive incentives for women.  Mary Kay allows women to go into business for themselves and to do so in a way that affords them the flexibility that many other careers fail to offer.  In an economy as tough as the one we’re currently enduring, that’s nothing to smirk at.  Consultants are able to take advantage of a 50 percent discount on products, making a 50 percent profit on all products sold.  There are leadership opportunities that allow women to transition into director positions and help other consultants build their businesses. And we all know about the infamous pink Cadillacs that Mary Kay Consultants can earn; add diamonds and luxurious trips to the list of enticing incentives as well.

For some, a Mary Kay business may be just what the doctor ordered.  Lots of people are searching for the perfect way to create additional streams of income for themselves.  For me, I’ve been scarred and I am indeed scared.  I like to tell a woman she is beautiful and keep it moving, but that doesn’t seem to be the Mary Kay way.  Eh, different strokes for different folks I suppose.  Since I have yet to find a successful way to emerge from an encounter with a Mary Kay consultant without giving her some sort of information, I’m just going to try to avoid these saleswomen at all costs.  What about you?

Have you been in any situations when you’ve come unsuspectingly face to face with a Mary Kay lady?  How did it go?  If you are a Mary Kay lady, have you enjoyed your experience working with the company thus far?

Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago.  Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.

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