Like my friend, I was struck by the fairy tale numerology that invested even tennis shoes with a mythic charge. In Amway, extravagant desire is the motive force: To desire what your upline has, even those things that nobody could realistically hope for, is what keeps the scheme in motion. Josh and Jean’s wish list, as well as the many other “visualization” exercises involved in dreambuilding, was simply part of their training to ever more expansively want. But to what end? What desire had propelled them into Amway in the first place?
At the landing of the stairs, she turns to face us. ‘The one thing you need to know about this house is that the whole area as you go up on this side is a safe area. So, you can see that this will roll down.’ She points to a metal compartment above us, which neither my husband nor I had noticed. ‘I’m going to show you that all the hurricane shutters will also come down,’ she says.
Multi-level market (MLM) or network marketing is an American institution. Companies like Amway, Tupperware, Herbalife, Avon, Mary Kay and The Pampered Chef support huge networks of distributors and recruits who sell every type of product from dietary supplements to kitchenware to beauty products. Salespeople are called independent business owners (IBO) and generally work from their homes.
They encourage new participants to start eating healthy and work-out — big surprise, taking care of yourself feels good — however, those who have been in a funk for a long time might attribute their new health and self-esteem boost to Amway rather than positive diet and lifestyle changes. Then they have recruits set goals, make vision boards, and sell them on the dream that they’ll “be retired in 2 to 5 years”. Amway is a pyramid scheme, but it’s masked under the real positive live changes subscribers make.
I loved the days when we’d go to the Bayou Club as a family. We began going immediately after joining Amway, when I was in second grade. The development was new, still under construction. There was space between the houses and the far stretch of the golf course undulating luxuriously around them. Model homes rose from the landscape like castles, bigger than any houses I’d ever seen – and vacant. Never occupied. Empty dreams, waiting to be filled.