Amplify: Bustle culture is often a women’s game, but the #girlboss phenomenon has a flip side
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Lauren Heintzman is Associate Artistic Director at The Globe and Mail
If you’re looking for a wild ride that you can do from the comfort of your sofa, look no further than LuLaRich, Amazon’s new four-part docuseries on multilevel marketing company LuLaRoe.
MLMs abound, selling everything from sportswear and health supplements to makeup and hair care. Surely you too have been approached by this long lost girlfriend on social media who was trying to sell you essential oils. In the case of LuLaRoe, the product is leggings with ridiculous prints, and LuLaRich exposes exactly what happened at the infamous MLM, which brought a legion of women on the verge of losing everything and now faces a mountain of litigation.
These “bogus empowerment” companies generally have a few things in common: they generate income from a self-employed workforce who uses their own money to buy and then sell the company’s products and who profit from recruiting new ones. business owners ”becoming their“ upline ”(more on that later). Another thing in common is that they tend to lash out at people who like the idea of being their own boss while being part of a larger community. This part may seem correct, but ultimately success is only for those at the top.
The documentary is fun to watch, but we quickly realize that something dark is lurking underneath when we learn how founders DeAnne Brady and Mark Stidham built a multi-billion dollar business with the unpaid labor of thousands of women who ended up in debt. It’s hard to say if Brady and Stidham are truly oblivious to their unethical behavior, but I can’t see how they didn’t know they were forcing their consultants to fork out their own money for some “stinky” tearing leggings. like a “wet toilet”. paper.”
Of course, MLMs are nothing new. Tupperware parties have been a way for women to earn income (and socialize) for decades, and Mary Kay has been selling cosmetics through distributors for almost as long. It seems like a smart way to put your product in new hands: throw a party, have people try your products, and have them buy or recruit to sell. It’s a model that works – that’s also how LuLaRoe started out, and social media allowed them to explode.
And for as long as MLMs have been around, they target women. This mom who sold Tupperware in the 50s is now a #mompreneur, #girlboss, #bossbabe on all social networks. When recruiting, MLMs use feminism and the concept of “having it all” as a toss. Author Jill Filipovic, featured in the documentary, delves deeply into this idea on her blog, writing: “The most interesting part of the history of LuLaRoe, and the history of so many MLMs, is where American capitalist and consumerist aspiration stubborn application of traditional gender roles: how we still fetishize full-time motherhood and see it as the end of female ambition, while living in a nation obsessed with buying, selling , entrepreneurship and the myth of the self-made (woman) man.
It’s problematic enough, but what also bothers me with MLMs is this idea that if you can’t make it work it’s because you’re not dedicated enough, you don’t hurry. strong enough. It is possible – and so easy! – so there must be something wrong with you if you fail. There are a lot of women on social media who project their success with bouncy posts and photos, but what they might not be sharing is how much debt they are when they are. try to keep up appearances and find themselves buried in unsold stocks.
And while it’s true that MLMs can bring together like-minded people, the word “cult” may be a more apt word than “community” (and one that certainly popped up during the doc). Among other things we learned: there is nothing wrong with saying about the company, its products or its founders. You have to sell and recruit a certain amount each month. There’s a pressure to look in a specific way (you might have seen these “huns” on your social media feed), and there might even be suggestions for getting weight loss surgery. All of your posts should be positive (no drama, unless they are selling) and always refer to the business in a beneficial way, showing your bonus check or thanking them for indulgences like lavish trips. .
In Edward Scissorhands, Avon Lady Peg visits her neighbor and recites her Avon spiel. Her friend replies, “Oh Peg, you know I never buy anything from you.”
“I know,” she answers sadly. And they spend their day.
It’s a fleeting scene, but there’s something deeply upsetting about seeing your friends as a way to make money, either by selling them overpriced products, or worse, by becoming theirs. upline ”, which means you recruit them and then pocket a portion of their earnings. This is the only way to be truly successful in multi-level marketing and there is always pressure from your upline to recruit more people below you because it sends money up the triangle (or of the pyramid).
We want to believe that these companies give more freedom to women. But corporations that exploit women for free labor and leave them in debt amplify the worst aspects of capitalism.
So, while I’m happy to report that most of the “huns” I meet are, like Peg, relatively harmless, recoil when I say I’m not interested and seem to make it work for themselves – LuLaRich only solidified my idea of what MLMs are really built on: dishonesty and performance, to the detriment of who they are meant to benefit, women.
What else are we thinking of:
If you live in the Greater Toronto Area or Hamilton area, you may have heard, like me, the GO Transit advertisements that glorify travel. As we get closer to a possible return to the office, I see more and more articles about the benefits of commuting to work. But as Anne Helen Peterson writes in her excellent newsletter, Culture Study, this productive journey is a myth. Most trips are noisy and cramped, or involve multiple stops. It only takes one canceled train or one sidewalk that is not cleared to ruin an entire day. Ideally, a commute is a chance to clear your head and provides a buffer space between work and home – I even made this comment to defend my own commute. But the truth is, you can do it from home. Take twenty minutes to do yoga or take a walk, write in a journal, or meditate. All the good things that a commute to work offers don’t really have to be done on the trip, and the idea that a bus is the best place to chill out is pretty unrealistic.
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