by Pallas Hutchison
Last March, I introduced two product lines to my business. They both integrate easily into a massage practice. Becoming a distributor means that Oasis Massage earns commission on product sales, which provides an additional income stream. Low initial cost makes them even more attractive. I’ve hit a snag with this however. Retail products need to promote what I want my business to promote. To know if a product is a good fit, I have to spell out what I want my business to represent.
The first product line is Young Living essential oils. Objectively, they provide an easy up-sell opportunity as an add-on for services and a retail item for clients to use on their own to improve their health. Subjectively, I have been studying and experimenting with essential oils since 2005; selling them at my business gives me access to wholesale pricing for personal use. I look forward to introducing classes on essential oils to share their uses and benefits as well as teach people to make their own products. Clients have shown interest and overall, I consider this a successful endeavor.
The other product is the ItWorks body product line. Over the years, I’ve had many people ask about skinny wraps or cellulite treatments. I’ve always been hesitant to offer them. For one, they seem pretty hokey. For two, I’m not sure they fit with my business.
The simplified concept behind the body wrap product, the most popular item in the product line, is botanicals remove waste products stored in fat calls resulting in a slimmer target area. I like that they aren’t intended as a substitute for a healthy lifestyle; rather they enhance one. To my surprise, they actually work. I tried one on my “mommy-tummy” and saw enough results that people began commenting. My concern isn’t in the product itself. It’s in the message that the product seems to be sending.
It’s taken two months to fully identify why I haven’t been comfortable promoting this product. Other distributors kept offering suggestions on how to use other products in the line to create new services or promotional ideas to let people know that Oasis Massage was offering this great new product. The word ‘skinny’ kept coming up. Skinny is not synonymous with healthy. The other distributors appeal to vanity, not health. I’m not comfortable selling ‘skinny.’
I’ve mentioned previously that my sister had a hard time with body image as a child. Society, the media, the ballet community, and her siblings taught her that her body was not beautiful, that she was not beautiful, because she was not skinny. These two photos are of my little sister. The first one shows us together (she’s on the right) in Oregon in 1989. The other was taken in California in 2009. I won’t speculate as to her current feelings about body image but I will say that she has grown into a beautiful and outwardly confident woman.
Promoting this product line makes me feel like I am passing judgement, like I am saying to my friends and clients “You’re fat; you need to lose weight.” Additionally, I am teaching my children this lesson indirectly as well. I want to heal people, not bring them down, not add to whatever insecurities they have. The question becomes how can I, as a business owner, promote a product that could put someone in that same head space? I can’t. I won’t.
What started out as a practical business decision, income diversification, has turned into a moral and ethical dilemma. What do I – and, by extension, my business – stand for? Writing this blog has reinforced my certainty. I won’t sell ‘skinny’ to my clients. Health isn’t a number on a scale or the size of a waistband. Health is the body working, as it is supposed to, to achieve homeostasis. Health incorporates all aspects of life and includes the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of the being. By teaching my clients about self-care and promoting self-awareness, they can make informed choices about their lifestyle.
The links below are provided to show how body image gets distorted for men and women. Most links are videos that show some inspiring projects about self-image.