Here we go with our next episode of Bedroom Misadventures, in which I attend a make-up party and think I’m supporting a friend, and ends with Husband having to comfort me. This is going to be a post heavy on health, body image, and pushy salespeople.
“I’m hosting a make-up party at my house and I want you to come. It will just be girls. There will be wine and it will be a good time.” That’s the gist of the message I received from a friend of mine. The make-up would be from a certain MLM (multi-level marketing) company that most people have heard of, and honestly I didn’t want any of it. But, this seems to be my friend’s new thing, and if she needed an extra body there and there was wine involved, I supposed it couldn’t hurt to go and support her. She knows I’m not into this sort of thing, anyway.
So I showed up at her house at the appointed time, was warmly greeted by her, and then was very noisily greeted by another, older woman in what is clearly the make-up selling uniform. Woah. What is this? Who is that??? What’s happening? At this point I found that my friend had not been too forthcoming with me. I wasn’t here to listen to my friend and support her in her new venture. I was here to sit in my friend’s house, next to my friend, and listen to this complete stranger with the huge, rattling jewellery try to convince me to buy things I don’t want. How do I get out?
I should have pretended to get a call. I should have found a way to leave at that moment, right as I realized I got bamboozled. But hey, since I showed up, my friend got a sizeable shopping spree with this company. Isn’t that…nice.
But, I’m polite, so I stayed where I was. Stupid, stupid, stupid me. I sat there, listening to her charm bracelets rattle in my ear as she went through her spiel about why this is the BEST MAKE-UP EVER!!!! You NEED this stuff, people, because if you don’t have it, your skin will be DAMAGED FROM WALKING TO YOUR MAILBOX!!!! OMG!!! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE WITHOUT THIS STUFF!!!!
Oh, and by the way? “No wine until after we do samples!” Super.
Then she taught us that each time she said certain key words, if we blurted out that we loved the company, we’d win a ticket. If she drew our ticket at the end of the day, we’d win fabulous prizes! I sat there ticketless the whole time, not even trying, because I did not want anything from this company. She continued on with her speech about why we need this-that-and-the-other, calling the buzzword occasionally, and me just not caring. She said some of the most ridiculous stuff, made crazy claims, and then…AND THEN… OK. Get this. I am in my early 30’s, along with a couple of other people that were there. Everyone else was significantly older. She wanted us to use some sort of skin repair mumbo jumbo to keep us from getting wrinkles. She wanted us to worry about natural skin conditions before we even had them. We, that were perfectly fine and comfortable in our skins, should be very, very concerned. Pretty soon, she seemed to be saying, we’re going to get ugly. It’s a good thing she’s there to tell us what to do! In a nutshell, she pointed out the flaws of the older women, and told them what to do. With the younger women, she warned of coming flaws, and told us what to do. Basically, we should all feel ugly or on our way to ugliness, but her products can save us. She can save us from unsightly eye bags. She can make our lips smoother and softer. She can make us healthy and beautiful, if we have the cash.
I’m pretty sure you know how I feel about marketing to women’s fears and poor body image.
Anyway, she launched into this speech about a product they have that contains retinol. She said it in such a way that you’d think that it deserves some sort of fanfare.
“Of course, this isn’t the same amount of retinol a dermatologist uses,” she said. “We can’t do that. But it is just one degree lower.”
One degree, huh? Uh-huh. Really. You don’t say. The thing is, when manufacturers come out with a new toy and say, “It’s 50% more powerful!” or it has “Stronger vibrations than other toys!” we demand to know some things. 50% more powerful than what? Stronger than which other toys, exactly? And I sat there thinking, “Can you define what you mean by ‘degree’?” Knowing full well, of course, that she couldn’t.
“Oh, you’re so nice and quiet!” she said to me. “I know you must have so many questions!”
Oh, yes. So many, many questions, but you wouldn’t appreciate them, lady. Allow me to go back to pretending that I think I’m ugly.
She said the same thing to me a few minutes later. Wow. You know what I was actually doing? I was yelling bullshit in my head to each and every claim she made, and she made some whoppers.
You’d think all that would happen at this point is I would eventually leave, mildly annoyed, and let others go on with their whatever. But no, still polite, still sitting, swearing like a sailor in my head and wishing this lady would stop shaking her bracelets in my ear.
Then it was time to actually try products. Usually, I don’t like artificial products touching my skin. I even make my own natural lotion and lip balm [stop judging me!] and use only mineral make-up. But, hey, I’m already here, right? What’s the harm in trying a product or two. Clearly, I had momentarily forgotten why I went natural in the first place. I was about to get one heck of a reminder.
We tried some cleansers and exfoliants from our little individual trays, all the while I was thinking, “I think I’ll stick to my all-natural soap and sugar scrub recipe, thanks. It works better and certainly costs less.” And then it happened. She instructed us to put on eye cream which we clearly needed, even though at first I didn’t even know what to do with it, since I don’t have skin around the eyes problems. Less than two minutes later, the skin around my eyes was burning. I grabbed my cleansing cloth and desperately rubbed the cream away.
“Are you all right?” the lady asked me when she realized what I was doing.
“Yeah,” I said, a bit flustered. “I guess I didn’t like something that was in the cream.”
Then it came time for foundation. I watched her put it on other people, and even stupidly allowed her to put it on me. I sat there listening to everyone at the table compliment the young woman next to me. She kept saying that she’s not a girly-girl, doesn’t like this, and only wears mineral make-up when she does feel the need for some. Only, no one but me is listening to what she’s saying. The make-up lady and everyone else at the table was telling her how great she looks with this new foundation! How natural! It looks like her own skin!
Let me tell you something, friends. That poor woman looked like someone had smeared her face with thick paint or covered her skin with latex, and she clearly didn’t like it. It was awful and uncomfortable. She knew it. I knew it. But everyone else was so caught up in the fab-u-lous-ness of the occasion that no one noticed that she was clearly uncomfortable.
And my stupid foundation? Well, it wasn’t long before my whole face was on fire and I was at the cleansing cloth again, scrubbing it off my skin. Get it off, get it off, GET IT OFF! My skin was burning and I was having some very unkind thoughts toward my friend at this point. Thankfully, it was time for me to go. The lady pulled me aside and asked if she could talk to me for a minute. The polite, don’t make people upset middle child in me took control and said yes. The next few moments were like that scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie meets Santa, and Santa says, “How about a nice football?” and he just nods. “Can I call you?” Sure.
Wait…what just happened? Oy, I’m going to regret that.
In the next few moments, skin still burning, feeling more than a smidge irritable, I woke back up when she–get this–tried to convince me to buy her products anyway! She blamed my skin problems on trying product after she had us exfoliate. I wouldn’t have the problem, she said, if next time I don’t exfoliate first.
“But you may just have sensitive skin,” she said, as if I was making the whole thing up. “We have a special botanical line for people like you. I’d love to do a personal consultation with you and talk about it.”
“Yes, but does your company have a line of natural products?” I asked, giving myself an out. I knew they didn’t.
“Yes. That’s our botanical line.”
“No, I mean all natural ingredients,” I said.
“Oh, yes. We do.”
She asked to call me in the coming week to set up an appointment. Another Ralphie-Santa moment overcame me and I said yes, I’d answer. And then she actually tried to get me to sign up and be a salesperson, AND give up the names and numbers of my friends. MWAHAHA! Oh, you’re serious? Nopenopenope.
I then hurried home to finish getting this crap off of my face.
When I got home, I ran straight to the bathroom and washed my face, yelling back to Husband what I was doing. No good. It was still on me. I could feel it. My skin felt like plastic and still burned. I could smell it on my skin and hands. Husband ran out to get me some make-up remover, which generally I don’t have to use.
“I’m just going to jump in the shower with this,” I said.
“Yes, please do,” he said, as gently as he could. He could smell it on me, and it wasn’t a pleasant scent. It smelled fake and horrible. Other women at the table described it as “vanilla,” but they must have never actually smelled real vanilla.
I told him the story of what had happened. How angry I was with my friend for not telling me that this wasn’t even her party. How pushy the sales lady was. How much my skin hurt. How I hated everyone and everything in that moment. He laughed at the crazy claims the lady made, comforted me in my discomfort, and agreed that my friend should have been a little more open with me.
The day after, my face still burned and felt really, really oily. I have no intention on buying this company’s products or going near them ever again. I looked up the “all natural” botanical line she spoke of and found that they are not even close to all natural. In fact, they have some really scary ingredients. Either she was lying or didn’t know her own products. Maybe both.
So, we have a lady that’s pushing really unhealthy products, demanding that people that feel OK with themselves feel ugly or worry about coming ugliness, made really far fetched claims, and tried to convince me to buy products, even though I was clearly having a bad reaction to them. Yeah, sure, sign me up.
Friends, if you are invited to a make-up party, please do research on their products and sales tactics before you go. And above all remember this: these companies get money by making you feel ugly and unworthy. No matter what your age, don’t buy into that nonsense.