Narcissistic Mothers & Keeping Up With Appearances

by Michelle Piper

For some narcissistic mothers, it is all about keeping up with appearances. She always has to be well groomed and manicured, looking her absolute best, whether she is going to a party or taking out the trash. Because everything with her is a competition, regardless of who she is vying against, she always has to win, no matter what the cost.

She is envious of anyone who has something she doesn’t. Regardless of whether she needs it or not, she wants it. This “want” range from a co-worker’s new purse to her daughter’s youth and beauty. She is always working to one-up those around her and to do it with flare.

One of her biggest adversaries: her daughter. Some narcissistic mothers who dress better than their daughters will make every effort to make their daughter be less appealing to others, from cutting the daughter’s hair in an unflattering way, to buying clothing two sizes too big so their daughter’s figure is hidden.

Narcissistic mothers are notoriously jealous of their younger, possibly more beautiful daughters. She wants to be able to wear what her daughter wears and to pull it off better than her daughter can. She may try to prevent her daughter from wearing makeup, grooming herself appropriately, or dating. She wants to remain the fairest of them all for as long as she possibly can.

Narcissistic mothers even compete with their daughters sexually. She may flirt with her daughter’s boyfriend or deter a man from dating her daughter in hopes that he will want her instead. She will be forward and seductive, even right in front of her daughter, to show the young puma how a real cougar can work it.

The narcissistic mother has to be the center of attention. Always. Her obsession with looks and youth can motivate her to spend insane amounts of money on clothes, jewelry, and plastic surgery. She is always in search of that fountain of youth.

Don’t ever mention the word “fat” around her. Even to be normal-sized and of a healthy weight is not acceptable for her. She needs to be skinny, model skinny. This can even lead to eating disorders.

Even though they want to be better looking than their daughters, they will even put pressure on them to lose weight if her daughter is not a size 2, because having an overweight child would be a bad direct reflection on her. Her daughter is her creation and it would not be acceptable for her creation to be anything but exactly what she wanted it to be.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Roger January 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

My mom never left the house without looking flawless, or at least she thought so. We lived in a smaller town where everyone knew everyone so it was important to her to always appear well put together and happy…not the case at home at all. Even though I was stuck wearing second hand clothes and stuff I’d grown out of, she was always shopping and buying new things for herself.


thetree February 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

My nm was always about looks. Even if we where just going to the grocerystore, we where all very well groomed. She used to say you have to suffer for beauty when she was grooming us and it hurt when she burnt us with the curlingiron or pulling our hair hard. As a child she used to dress my sis and me in the excact same clothes. Ppl used to ask us if we where twins. We said no, and then they would talk to my mom about thinking we where twins and complimenting her for having such pretty children. I asked my nm why she dressed us alike, she said she thought we where the same. There is this Brithish comedy show called Keeping up appearances, and the main character is like my nm. Always embellishing the truth so she and her side of the family seems richer, smarter, prettier etc, than her husbands sides of the family, which she is ashamed of because they don’t live up to her standards.


CMC June 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm

I’ve just realised at 26 that my mother (and my father) are narcissists. Reading this post, I am reminded of being 12 years old, and my mother telling my Dad to stop letting me buy an icecream when I went grocery shopping with him (once a week, if that!), because I was getting fat. I also have this memory of being on holiday with them, getting into a spa in my togs, and my parents informing me that I was very overweight and that I needed to do something about it. I remember I was about 13 at the time with fragile self esteem – I thought I was ugly and boyish. Looking back, I can’t believe they thought it was ok to say that to me. I eventually lost the weight – because it was puppy fat – and I’ve been slim since, but of course it’s never mentioned that I look good!

I can also remember Mum raging at me one morning before I went to college because she didn’t like the way I had my hair (???). At the time I couldn’t understand why on earth she would get so angry about such a thing, but I guess she was embarrassed of me. Meanwhile she never leaves the house without a mask of makeup on, her hair perfectly ‘done’, and nice clothes. She’ll even buy clothes I have and follow the same ‘trends’ that I do. I just ignore it at this point – I get some satisfaction that she’s probably dying for me to say something to her about it and me ignoring it must annoy her.


Riley May 6, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Yeah, this sounds like my mother. I am overweight, and have issues with food because of her. I grew up believing I was a disgusting creature when I was actually just curvy but not overweight. My mother did nothing to help me to build a better relationship with food or exercise, so surprise the weight piled on. Now, I’m responsible for losing my weight and my mother takes no part in it. I do believe it was part jealousy part laziness. She could not be bothered to parent or teach her child. And she lucked out because I got fatter and she could wear my old clothes.


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