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Did Anti-MLM Content Save Our Generation?

The dreaded ‘hey, hun’ message may finally have met its match with anti-MLM content. Have YouTube creators finally put a stop to the MLMs?

Credit: ivosar/Shutterstock

Hey, hun, I just saw your post on (social media platform here) and thought you’d be great at what I do! For just (a crazy amount of money), you could sell (pseudoscientific weight loss products, essential oils, or makeup) to your unsuspecting friends. And it’s all thanks to this MLM…

MLMs (multi-level marketing schemes) are back to in-person promotion after seeing a crazy spike in interest at the start of the pandemic. It doesn’t take much searching to find videos exposing the predatory tactics used to bring vulnerable and desperate people into the schemes with the promise of flexible working. But, because we were all at home, many of us that turned 18 – recruitable age – in the pandemic were well aware of these companies before a message could appear in our inboxes.

A photograph of an unread Facebook message.
Ever get a message from an old friend, only to find it’s a ‘business’ pitch? Odds are, they were trying to sell you something.
Credit: dolphfyn/Shutterstock

Untouched Magazines, Unanswered Messages

Our local Avon lady has made her return. Compared to the last time she delivered a magazine, I was more aware of the business structure and just how much that can hurt people. The MLM side of The Body Shop is being promoted in tabloids. As a fan of some of their products, I’ve sat down and asked myself if supporting the business is ethical.

A photograph of a LuLaRoe booth, set up by one of the MLM's independent sellers.
LuLaRoe is a name most will recognize. Invading local craft fairs, charity shops, and even Christmas markets it is very tough to avoid them.
Credit: mellisamn/Shutterstock

The stories I’ve heard courtesy of YouTubers such as CC Suarez, Hannah Alonzo, Savannah Marie, and Deanna Mims are enough to make anybody reconsider. I try to be an ethical consumer, and that desire must clearly expand to cover MLM schemes. The pandemic made it easy for people to prey on others. Still, as their ‘teams’ become disillusioned, they need to fight to keep people there. It is easier to prevent people from joining than to pull people away from these organizations that rely on love bombing and faith manipulation to keep people in the pyramid.

The Point of No Returns (Even if the MLM’s Products Are Faulty)

My mindset changed when Savannah Marie covered the Paparazzi super-spreader convention, with at least twelve people dying as a direct result. That was after the jewelry was revealed to contain lead and nickel, two things they proudly proclaimed weren’t in their products. Looking at Le-Vel’s THRIVE and the financial struggle that plagued the Watts family before Chris Watts’ murders, there’s a dark side to the self-improvement mindset. Combine the rise in true crime content with the increase in anti-MLM content, and you find a perfect storm to keep young people from joining these commercial cults.

These companies can try to rebrand and change their compensation plans to skirt around the definition of a pyramid scheme. Still, with financial insecurity pushing people to cut costs even more than usual, I don’t think we’ll see a leap in new recruits again. The big companies are passing their prime, and the new ones are too expensive to justify joining. We don’t have time for team calls, and we don’t have money to keep us afloat as it takes over our lives.

A photograph of a The Body Shop retail store.
Despite The Body Shop’s high-street locations, their MLM scheme is enough to put people off.
Credit: William Barton/Shutterstock

When my Body Shop products run out, I don’t think I’ll replace them. Buying from the company full stop feels like a betrayal of my morals.

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Written By

First-year creative writing student at Nottingham Trent University.

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