Hi! A while back, I showed you some disturbing information about businesses that trumpet how very very very Jesus-y they are. Today, we merge that trend with multi-level marketing schemes (MLMs). It seems that a very very very Jesus-y boutique salon haircare guru has been associating closely with an especially-nasty MLM shill–and reaped the consequences of his poor business decision. As the saying goes, we’re known by the company we keep. Today, let me show you a story that might well function as the saying’s case study!
Super important disclaimer: This post represents personal opinions formed by reading social media posts by both people involved in the story. In it, I speak of the public-facing personae those people present, not the actual people themselves who may in fact be lovely individuals. I do not assume criminal intentions or willful negligence or malevolence on anybody’s part.
Everyone, Meet Bo Stegall.
Bo Stegall shills insanely expensive hair-care products. In addition, this Southern salon owner has done television work a few times. He did a turn in a dancing-type fundraiser. Oh, and in 2008 he appeared in a Vivica Fox-hosted show called “Glam God.” Similarly, in 2009 he appeared in another reality show called “Split Ends.” (I’m sensing a theme here–are you?) He thinks he’ll get his own reality show with E! Entertainment soon.
I promise, I didn’t go out of my way to get a screencap that makes Bo Stegall look like a tool. There exists no single moment of this video that does not make him look like a tool. This universe possesses only moments of greater or lesser tool-osity with Bo Stegall, I’m afraid. He might be the nicest guy ever for all I know, but he just does not photograph or video like anything but a tool. It’s like he wound up with the worst super-power ever.
Basically, he’s pretty much everybody aching to have their very own reality show. He simply decided to go at it as a makeup artist and haircare guru, that’s all. However, he lacks the serious connections or skills needed to launch himself there. So he scrabbles for money doing whatever seems like it’ll pay his bills. He even started a luxury dog hotel because he just loves animals sooooo much that he had to find a way to talk pet owners into giving him lots of their money!
Well, he’s apparently found another way to differentiate himself from the legions of other people clawing their way toward wealth and fame.
He’s Very Christian.
Somewhere along the way, Stegall began to lean heavily on being a mega-mega-meh-HAAAAAY-ga-CHRISTIAN dude. He refers to his overpriced salon line of haircare products as his “passion project,” all inspired by his love of his dead mother and his adoration of Jesus Christ. In that linked screencap, he tells a concerned customer:
I proudly share my faith because that’s where my joy comes from so I can’t help from spread where the joy in my heart comes from and that’s my personal relationship with Christ.
If that quote sounds like Stegall whizzed a bunch of fundagelical talking points together and presented them in semi-sentence-like format, don’t worry. That’s normal. The full reply is even more WTF. It’s sorta a canned response he gives pretty much everybody. If you’re wondering, the concerned customer hadn’t actually asked about his religious beliefs or about what his passion might be!
But Christians eat that sort of copypasta up with a spoon. One Christian beauty blogger writes about her devastating hair loss–and then refers to Stegall as “Prince Charming” coming to rescue her with his haircare products. She even offers a discount code! (See endnote about codes.)
The new way to broadcast Christian associations is to keep it subvocal and sotto voce. The “a spoon” link above came from a blogger I’ve seen before talking about her adoration of Bo Stegall products. She hadn’t mentioned religion at all there. In fact, when I checked her biography out a few days ago I didn’t see anything overtly Christian. Today, I ran into her linked list of podcast episodes–and there, her religious leanings became crystal-clear. That’s how social media Christians roll these days. So you won’t see Bo Stegall trumpeting his faith from the skies; he keeps his nose clean and secular in his most-public appearances.
It’s only in private and low-key ways that he uses shared religious affinity to manipulate his followers. (Nor is he the only one in his company using it that way. YIKES. Talk about a silencing tactic! “Take a moment and pray”?!?)
Now Meet Kim Marshall, His Favorite Hun.
Kim Marshall shills Younique, which is an especially-shoddy MLM makeup line. A while ago, she came to the attention of the anti-MLM subreddit for her defiantly-proud practice of distracted driving (she liked filming videos for Facebook Live while driving). Very quickly, Redditors discovered that she seems like an all-around garbage fire of a human being. So she easily earned her very own subreddit. (They call her “KM” there to stay on Reddit’s good side.)
Though Kim claims to be the “Top of Younique Corporate,” she’s only an orange-tier hun. (See endnote for MLM terminology.) That said, orange tier is pretty high up there along their
pyramid inverted funnel. It means she started and maintains a huge downline–at least some of whom must also be doing well to earn her that that rank. Purple- and black-tier Younique huns are the ones who get the real buckaroonies, insofar as any MLM hun can.
And that means Kim probably isn’t earning a living wage with Younique, considering her entire team brings in around USD$12-15k a month before Younique’s high expenses and only as a best-case scenario. That’s not their commission, mind you; that’s their retail sales. The “team’s” average monthly sales probably amount to way less.
So to help finance her high-ballin’ lifestyle, Kim also shills magic bead bracelets. In fact, she constantly insinuates that these magic bracelets can cure literally anything and everything. Though she doesn’t make them herself (as easy as it is to string together semiprecious-at-best round beads), she offers a discount code for them–and we know what a discount code can mean. Like Younique and Bo Stegall stuff, these beads cost exorbitant amounts of money.
Now, you might wonder how a Younique hun ended up also-shilling Bo Stegall products. Somehow along the way she ended up as Bo Stegall’s Executive Global Creative Director. It sounds like they both lived in the same town and she came into contact with his meatspace hair salon, wormed her way into friendship with someone aching for friends, and thanks to that friendship got lifted to a position she categorically can’t competently fill.
Don’t Piss Off Redditors, and Other Life Lessons.
At first, Kim’s association with Bo Stegall and his products confused these Redditors. Stegall touts his religious faith so much and presents himself as this nice country boy intent on creating a luxury brand. Yet he associates with a tawdry-seeming woman who shills MLM makeup and magic beads, lies her ass off, possibly abuses and murders her dogs, might be a really iffy parent, talks about being an anti-vaxxer and Christian culture warrior, films her nude children during Lives, and viciously attacks critics.
And she does all of that stuff even while representing Stegall’s brand.
It made no sense at all to the Redditors. Her entire ethos appears to violate everything Stegall claims to hold dear, especially the bit about the dogs. Did he not know any of this stuff about his dear friend? However, their common friend and business associate Jana hung out with Kim all the time. Literally, for hours a day the pair hangs out. They even drive around together extensively to evangelize their haircare line to strangers. So did Jana just fail to notice that Kim belligerently projects herself as a horrific miasma of awfulness?
Or did Jana and Stegall know all that but just not care? Because people have tried to tell him this stuff!
Eventually, these Redditors began to wonder if birds of a feather really do flock together.
Very rapidly, Bo Stegall earned his own subreddit.
Debunking Bo Stegall’s Claims.
This story has been quite informative to me. I had no idea how easy it is for beauty product manufacturers and sellers to be dishonest about their products. Nor was I even halfway aware of how many ways exist to deceive customers about such products.
For example, here’s what those Redditors turned up to directly debunk Bo Stegall’s various claims about his haircare line:
- Bo Stegall did NOT actually personally create the formulas (formulae?) for his products, though he claims he did. In fact, a wholesale manufacturer appears to make them. They sell their creations to a variety of salons who slap a private label on the bottles. So yes, you can buy exactly identical products for a fraction of the cost.
- That fact also means that his products aren’t actually locally-made to him.
- His products are not in fact cruelty-free. In fact, he uses a fake Leaping Bunny logo on at least one product. (More info.)
- They ain’t actually vegan either, since they contain beeswax and lanolin. (And glycerin, which can go either way.)
- His products contain both silicones and waxes, despite his claims to the contrary.
- He holds no patents whatsoever on any of his products or containers/dispensers. In fact, he only holds a trademark for his company name. (And pro-tip confidential to Bo: you can’t actually trademark a “process.”)
- This haircare line is nowhere near as harmless as it seems.
Other claims can’t be outright debunked–yet–but Stegall offers no support for them:
- We have no idea if he actually holds any celebrity endorsements.
- Nor do we know if the FDA’s actually approved anything he sells–
- Or if any clinical trials have really been done of any of his products.
- He’s never provided evidence of actually supporting any non-profits through his product sales.
- Nor has he provided evidence of his products actually being carbon-neutral or gluten-free.
And his confirmed claims:
- Yes, Bo Stegall’s Collection is indeed paraben- and sulfate-free.
- Oh. And yes, he’s a Christian.
Also Hooray Team Jesus!
His Weakest Link.
People probably wouldn’t have noticed this [false vegan claim] if KM wasn’t a sociopath. (Reddit.com)
Remember, none of this information would have come to light if a bunch of people with a lot of free time on their hands hadn’t begun wondering how a vocal, visible Christian dude like Bo Stegall could bring himself to associate with someone like Kim Marshall. The Redditors themselves noticed that fact, too. They made much of it, calling Kim his “weakest link.”
And even more than that, as someone else in the thread pointed out:
Anyone that brings in Jesus and their love of Christ into a defense and explanation of themselves and their journey and “brand” is a manipulative person. I’m in ministry and it’s done time and time again especially in the South.
Yep. Bo Stegall does in fact live in the Deep South. There, he competes against nearby salons with names like–I am serious here–Shear Faith.
Another Vocal Christian Business Hypocrite.
If a business owner needs to make a big deal of an affinity, chances are they need to do that because their business alone doesn’t merit enough attention.
In reality, time and again we discover that people who use their religious affinity to score points don’t come anywhere close to living that affinity in real life. We’ve seen it in vegans, too, and recently at that.
But Christians remain the biggest example of the trope. Not only are there simply lots of them, but hucksters have trained the tribe for decades to accept affinity claims without questions. As a result, Christians often perceive those claiming membership in the tribe as more trustworthy, honest, ethical, and discerning than anybody outside it.
In fact, back when I was Christian, my tribe perceived super-vocal Christians as being way more Jesus-y than more quiet, private Christians. Someone can get away with any manner of hypocrisy thanks to a huge loud Christian persona. They go big or go home with it.
And that’s why instead of firing Kim Marshall, Younique recently put her onstage with her
scam’s scheme’s co-founder and gave her cheap presents to thank her for something (I’m guessing it involves signing up tons of new huns).
The Venn Diagram’s Complete Overlap.
Modern-day MLMs have enjoyed a field day largely at Christians’ own expense because they know how to play that affiliation game. They know quite well that if they vocally claim Christian beliefs, then Christian victims will sign up in droves–and then stay for way longer than they would otherwise. So yeah, MLMs’ indoctrination practices resemble Christian ones for a reason.
Kim Marshall herself represents the worst of the worst of the vocal Christians involved in MLMs. But her tribe won’t ever notice it. They’re just as bad as she is for the most part; they like that she gives them permission to act out toward critics and live a lifestyle absolutely incongruent with the principles they themselves espouse.
Well, this is how these hypocrites function. No gods hold back any huns’ hands from bad dealings, nor any makeup gurus’ either. No Jesus-y goodness fills any Christians to inspire them toward becoming more decent human beings, nor changes them for the better. In absence of
supernatural imaginary help in changing, group members would ordinarily depend on their ideology and social rules to learn to do better. But here, too, Christians run into problems because their religion’s rules and ideology can’t possibly lead anybody from Point A to Point Decency.
In conclusion, MLMs and huns go together like picnics and fire ants–for good reason. Also for good reason, those who associate with career huns can end up getting tarred with that same brush.
The situation must be growing dire indeed if even Christians are starting to ask questions of this affinity-claiming reindeer game!
NEXT UP: Christians like to act like they just have no idea what on earth I mean when I talk about Christianity’s claims being false. So I’ll be all helpful and explain. See you next time!
About these codes: This blogger offers a discount code (“FAITH” — oof) to get a few bucks off his $39 “root amplifier” and $38 “cell renewal treatment.” Those sorts of offers are very common in the social media world. Basically, a company makes a sponsoring agreement with the social-media person. In return, the person receives a special discount code to offer people. Whenever a customer uses that code, the person who offered it receives a small kickback–it’s kind of like a referral fee.
Almost none of the people offering these codes reveal this connection or their potential profit from it. Thus, it’s not possible to say for 100% sure that this blogger here profits by offering this code. However, it’s probable. And as we’ll see very shortly, these codes are downright ubiquitous in the social-media world.
I see nothing wrong about the practice, as long as customers know about the self-interest involved in sharing links like that. For example, since I use Amazon referral links myself, I disclose that fact whenever it seems necessary. Unfortunately, nothing really forces social media influencers to disclose this info. (Back to the post!)
MLM Terminology: A “hun” is someone shilling MLM products. They get called that because they often open a pitch attempt with a nice, misspelled “Hey hun!” or some similar forced show of affection. Also: hunbot (because of how robotic they are with copying whatever their superiors in the MLM do), bro-hun, etc. A “downline” is someone a hun signs up to the scam, plus whoever that downline signs up. Huns make a commission on whatever their downline huns earn. In turn, the hun’s “upline” is whoever signed the hun up, then the hun who signed that hun up, and so on all the way up the
pyramid inverted funnel. Everything huns purchase from the MLM pays commissions all the way up their upline. (Back to the post!)
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Final note: Is this really what the end-run of Christianity has become? A way for hucksters to make money, a way to avoid scrutiny for shoddy business practices? How the mighty have fallen!
In my innermost heart full of sunlight, love, and optimism, I’m sad about that thought. I wish Christians cared more about their credibility as a group, and that that care led them to behaving in less hypocritical ways. I guess if they could avoid hypocrisy or cared about avoiding it more than they do, they would be chasing those cares right out of the religion. But still. Here we are. The end-run of a major world religion is just a label now helping hucksters hawk expensive shampoo, magic beads, and sub-par makeup. Suck up the dregs while you can, Christians. Soon, the label probably won’t even help hucksters improve their sales.