My Boss Tried to Get Me to Join in on Her Beauty Pyramid Scheme (It Kind of Worked)
I was her first mark.
The first time she mentioned the all natural beauty products, she was sharing a new discovery. She came out of her office and leaned on my desk. Casual, just shooting the breeze.
“You know how I’ve been really into health and wellness lately?” she asked.
I did. She had been very into health and wellness for the past six months. We’d worked together a year, she my boss, I her assistant. I got her coffee, and then, after the switch, green tea. I answered her phone. Edited her blog posts. Signed her up for spinning classes. She’d always been healthy, one of those people that takes care of herself, loves to run. Didn’t want bread with her salad. Always wanted the dressing on the side. But then she started ratcheting it up. Juices instead of salads. Marathons instead of 5Ks. And then, PrettyFace.
“So I’ve been doing some research, and it’s just crazy how toxic a lot of things that we put in our bodies are.”
Yeah, I read the internet.
“Do you know makeup contains heavy metals?”
“It’s just awful,” she said. “We are poisoning ourselves trying to be beautiful.”
I told her that was the reason I don’t wear makeup, because it’s dangerous. I laughed after, because I’d made a joke. I don’t wear makeup, because I don’t care to wear makeup. I am unmotivated to paint my face. It’s not for me. She told me this was really serious stuff. And it’s not just makeup. Facewashes, face creams, body creams—it’s all killing us. I don’t use those things either, but I smiled and nodded. Terrible.
She wasn’t done. “We are literally leeching poisons into our bodies with every product we put on our skin, in our hair, on our nails. It’s really upsetting,” she said. I kept nodding. “And that’s why I’m so excited I’ve discovered PrettyFace, a chemical-free, all natural, European line of cosmetics and skincare products.”
She sounded like a commercial.
“In Europe, they have strict regulations about what can go into products that go on our bodies, and so these are the most natural and safe products on the market. I’ve been using them for a few months and I’ve seen such a difference. I’ve decided to start selling them.”
She was a commercial.
“You really should look them up.”
Two days later she sidled up to my desk again.
“Did you have a chance to look at PrettyFace?” Beat. Did I lie or did I tell the truth? I lied, and told her it seemed they had a lot of really great stuff. “Did you happen to notice their anti-aging line? I think you would really like their anti-aging line.”
I’m two years younger than she is.
“It all looks really great,” I said.
“I’ve been using their rejuvenation line for months. Doesn’t my skin look great?” It did look great. I said, your skin looks great. And then I said, but it’s always looked great. Wrong. “No, it was terrible before, dark circles, wrinkles, dullness. It’s only since I’ve been using these all-natural products that I’ve seen a difference. I feel like me now.”
The phone rang and I answered it. She walked away.
A few days later I came back from lunch and a stack of printouts about PrettyFace’s anti-aging line was on my desk. She’d printed out pages from the website and stapled them together. A Post-it note on the top said, “Just wanted to share this with you! I really think you’d love it.”
On her way out that evening she paused at my desk. “Have you had a chance to look over that information I gave you?” I hadn’t. “I really think you should.”
So I did. The products sounded great? They looked pretty in their little jars? The branding was very well done? I was not going to buy an anti-aging skincare system from my boss.
The next morning she had an idea. “I just realized you are probably reluctant to inquire more about the products because they are costly. But they really aren’t, they’re cheaper than a lot of products on the market today!” Then, the real pitch: “You know, I could get you even more of a deal if you wanted to get some friends involved. Just call up some friends, tell them about this great line of products you’ve found. All you need is a few people to buy it and then you’ll get such a great discount. I mean, I’m selling these products because I love these products. Sharing them feels so great. You’ll see.”
I told her my friends didn’t have money to spend on fancy skincare products.
“You’d be amazed what people spend their money on.”
I decided I was sick of talking about PrettyFace. I missed the days when we didn’t talk except for her to ask for more green tea. I decided I’d buy a lip balm or something, get her off my back. I told her I had $30 to spend and wanted to try something, what did she recommend?
“That’s tricky, you know, we have so many great products. You know, right now we’re having a special, on the anti-aging line, and it’s the whole kit for $150. It really is an amazing savings, crazy even. Like, it should be like, $300. But it’s only $150.”
Yeah, I don’t have $150.
“You just have to prioritize. I mean, is having beautiful skin free of toxins and poisons and heavy metals important to you? You have to decide what is important in your life. What’s more important than your body?”
I said okay. I couldn’t say no anymore. I was too tired. She went and got her order form. I went and got my credit card. My products will come in a week. “And then we’ll get you on the makeup.”
Molly Lorz lives in New York.