Mine is a long street with dozens of houses, but in the cul-de-sac where I live, I have at least two neighbors involved in MLM, get-thin-quick schemes.
I was approached by each on two separate occasions. One was selling that Ardyss International “Body Magic” thing, a severely restrictive undergarment that claims to shrink you at least two dress sizes in just minutes. I wanted to support my neighbor and attend her “party,” but the going price for the thing was nearly $200.
I wish I would pay $200 for a girdle on steroids.
My other neighbor cornered me in the grocery store, and I almost agreed to attend his “meeting.” He is so good at selling I felt terrible about turning him down. But I did. I had to. He was selling some kind of “nutritional supplement” that causes people to lose weight rapidly – without diet or exercise. It took 10 long minutes, but I was able to extract myself from his aura. See, I’d already attended two other MLM schemes in his home over the past nine years, and regretted it both times. I go to be nice and neighborly, and leave resenting him for wasting my time.
Like Amway, Mary Kay and Pre-Paid Legal, an MLM seller’s success depends on how many underlings they can amass to promote and sell the products for them, creating something of a downline or hierarchy. Unlike Amway, Mary Kay and Pre-Paid Legal, a lot of MLMs aren’t legit. I don’t know or care whether Ardyss International or the nutrition company is legit; I don’t believe in either magic underwear or pills or anything that excludes healthy eating and exercise.
The truth is, though, most of these products eventually let customers know that changing their eating habits and exercising more will, in fact, make a much bigger difference in addition to their always-overpriced items.
I fully understand the need for magic. I wish there were a magic weight-loss pill, but there isn’t. There are, however, all kinds of healthy nutritional supplements different people swear by – people whose opinions I trust. I’m interested in trying something new. Like wheatgrass shots – as in drink, not needle. The ones I’ve seen look gross. (Remember “Soylent Green is people?” No? You’re too young, then.) But they’re supposed to be great for energy and the immune system.
I am intrigued.
I’ll try just about anything, especially if it’s made from natural products and has a track record I can research and understand.
But I’m not looking for any kind of “fix” from a package or bottle. The simple truth – and I’m not a fan of it, either – is that there is no substitute for healthy eating and exercise. I don’t even like the word exercise – it’s attached to all sorts of bad memories, like tuna, grapefruit and iceberg lettuce.
Yet there’s nothing magical about it. Maybe that’s why it’s such a hard sell.
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. ~ Carl Sagan
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.