Backstory: How Beauty U Led to Mary Kay

Investigative Fund: Why I Went to Beauty School by Virginia Sole-Smith


Another coda to The Pink Pyramid Scheme — and more free online content for y’all! The Investigative Fund asked me to blog about why I went to beauty school in the first place, since that is, of course, how I met my first Mary Kay ladies and stumbled on to this story.

Regular readers here might think you already know the whole Beauty Schooled story, but this post is still worth a read — because I talk about the enormous gap between what women spend on beauty ($200 billion in 2009, the year I enrolled at Beauty U) and what women can earn when they sell beauty. As you’ve probably guessed by now, it’s not a hell of a lot whether you’re hosting Mary Kay parties or waxing eyebrows in a salon. And since beauty workers are almost always also beauty consumers, too … there is math here that is just not adding up. Read more. 

Oh and in case you’re like, wait, who the heck is the Investigative Fund? Here’s the backstory on that:

As I mentioned Tuesday, I was super fortunate to have my research for supported by a grant from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund. Pieces like these take a huge amount of time, patience and love to get off the ground — reporters can spend months tracking a complex investigative story before we have enough to bring it to an editor, and then it can take many more months to find the right editor and publication for the story. If you’re freelance, like me, that means you’re working gratis until you have enough of a handle on things to get an assignment on contract.

So nonprofit journalism organizations like the Investigative Fund (and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, which I also work with) are tremendously important to us and to the media in general. They’re fighting to make sure big stories like these happen in the mainstream media (where that’s gotten more difficult for about one thousand reasons) and they’re making it possible for independent journalists to do this work. More on the other stories I’ve done with the Investigative Fund’s support here; and check out the amazing range of investigations they’ve helped make happen over here.

Filed under Beauty Labor, Career Opportunities, Customer Cult, For Extra Credit, Makeup, Mary Kay, Press

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