I posted here about 3 weeks ago and I am glad I did. Thanks to everyone that responded. It helps a lot to know that I am not the only one trapped in an impossible situation. Tomorrow I take my mother to her surgery consult appointment. It’s a 45 minute drive to the doctor and from the time I get my mother in the car till we get to the doctor she will talk nonstop about everything that is wrong with her, the medical care she will get and her to do list. Since we are going to “town” I will be expected to look nice and use my manners while I am in the waiting room, so that my behavior doesn’t affect her medical care. My mother is convinced that how she looks and more importantly how I look directly influences what kind of medical care she will get. My mother notices everything about my personal appearance and if she notices anything that is potentially “not right” she will lecture me endlessly. If I have a pimple for example she will needle me about skin care and facial washes and seeing a dermatologist. If my clothes are wrinkled she will lecture me about dry cleaners and ask me if I need to borrow starch or an iron. She will mention this over and over in the span of 30 minutes. I’m in my 50’s and I’ve had hair loss since I was in my 30’s. I was having lunch with my mother in a restaurant one time and she stopped eating and looked at me and loudly exclaimed “In another year or so you will be so bald your whole head will be as oily as your forehead”. Any advice from anyone on how to deal with abusive cracks about personal appearance that go on and on and on with little to no point?????

When my mom was alive I wanted to tell her to shut the F up, but I never did. I just pretended like she wasn't saying awful things to me. She's gone now and thinking about it feels like crap. I don't know if my saying something would have changed a thing. I kind of wish I had said something...she would have denied all of it though, so what's the point?
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to geeeee

Was she ever any different? The only real way to avoid this type of person is to AVOID this type of person. I am hoping you don't live with her nor her with you. If that's the case, and you are helping her out now in all her frail years of your choice, then just learn to laugh it off more or less. Responses like "Oh, hon, you NEVER cease to give me the giggles" will not only let her think she isn't scoring points, but will infuriate her. An abuser hates humor. They LOATHE it. It's the best arrow for your quiver.
Give her the "OK, hon, we are going to play a game, because I'm bored. I have heard this. The game is called 'You don't get to speak unless you have something nice to say'. The game starts NOW!" When she gives a mean response tell her "I hope I am not going to have to set you off at the side of the road, hon. You are going to have to try harder".
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Reply to AlvaDeer
499HopeFloats Feb 23, 2021
Ten thumbs up!!
I've said this before on the forum: What you allow continues.

If you keep taking it, then it remains. If somebody said that to me I would walk away or drive her back home. Tell her she can get her own caregiver.

Tell her if she continues to degrade you that you will be DONE. Then follow through.
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Reply to tevincolorado

So much terribly wrong here. To begin with I would pointedly say that you don't need to spend an occasion with her such as lunch which could be considered kind and caring of you to be repeatedly insulted. Then I would take that further and say that if insulting you is so important to her that you will remove yourself from contact with her as any problems you may have are exacerbated by stress which she is causing you. Why doesn't she find someone to pay to accompany her. An employee is that and no reflection on her standards which are fairly bad with her critical behavior. Maybe she will figure it out. Your time with her does not include being insulted and since she cannot express gratitude then you can remove yourself from the time you are spending with her which causes you additional stress further compounding your appearance which she is not worthy of.
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Reply to Riverdale

My mother is 77. Still mentally intact for the most part. Even when I was younger, I'd see how her (and friends her age) were VERY focused on looks. As in their hair and makeup must be perfect, even if they were staying home alone all day! It seemed sad and shallow to me. When she badly broke her foot and had surgery, people kindly offered to bring her food to the hospital. She'd refuse all of it... "I don't want people here without my makeup on!". Arghh! No one would have cared or barely noticed... no one looks like Miss America when they've been in the hospital for a few days!

I eventually realized why she was like this. She came up in the 40s/50s. She was never expected to go to college. Secretarial school maybe, but that was it. It never even occurred to her to have a career (still doesn't!). She was expected to marry, have a baby and stop working, because she couldn't make it on her own. And it's not like she had any role models to look up to; there wasn't a female doctor, lawyer, or CEO on TV in those days, let alone one in the neighborhood.

So, she'd better be as pretty as possible to get men to notice her, to get noticed at all. Hence her thinking she'll get better treatment from the doctor if she looks nice.

Those early life lessons of what you were told to be are hard to unlearn. She picks out all the flaws in herself because she feels it's all she has to offer.

[There's of course nothing wrong with being a stay-home mom. What matters is having options. My mother's generation didn't have the options the upcoming generation does.]
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Reply to LoopyLoo

They are part of the ‘Hollywood’ glamour era.

My mother wore makeup before having surgery!

Of course, I tried to get her to remove it before arriving for surgery.

She refused so I let the doctor deal with it.

When the doctor told her to wash her face in the bathroom, she did.

Their generation wore make up to get the mail or newspaper in.

They were dressed to kill and they had to have drop dead figures to fit in the fashion from the 40’s, which no one can deny was extremely fashionable!

They wore pearls. They wore high heels! That was simply their style so anything else appears sloppy to them.

My mother is still beautiful at 95 years old!

Did mom criticize me and everyone else on the planet? You bet she did! She is a full blown perfectionist!!!

My mom is oblivious to newscasters not having hair stylists and makeup artists due to the pandemic and says how awful they look compared to pre Covid days!

Please don’t expect your mom to change.
I found peace when I stopped expecting change. It’s not going to happen!

Was there a time that it drove me crazy? Absolutely! Not anymore.

She is who she is and I am who I am.

There are some ways that mom and I are alike and other ways that we are polar opposite.

You are you. Your mom doesn’t have to approve, right?

If she works on your nerves too badly, step away. If needed, make arrangements for others to help out.

It’s terribly frustrating when dealing with certain issues.

Pick and choose what is important.

Set your boundaries. Let go of the rest.

It is not worth your time and energy to get upset over things beyond your control.

No one has the power to change anyone else. We can only change our reaction to it.

Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to vent, then move onto more pleasant thoughts.

Take care, dear lady. I wish you peace. I have been there!

I feel your pain. I took care of my mom for 20 years, 15 of those in my home.

I felt the weight of the world lift off of my shoulders when I stopped being the primary caregiver.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
Riverdale Feb 23, 2021
When I was in my 20's I wouldn't go out without makeup. So silly. I looked fine but was concerned who I might run into. Now nearing 65 I rarely wear makeup. To really be done up the occasion has to warrant it. I think I may next be in makeup when my son gets married next year! Plans had to be well into the future due to Covid. It's fine with me. It will likely take me that long to lose the 5 pounds I want to. My day starts off with good intentions and then if I can't get to sleep I find myself hungry. Oh well. At least I know I am not a NM.
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Go in your pajamas, hair in curlers (Bonus points if you don't curl your hair, buy some for this occasion!), a ratty robe, and dirty slippers (dirty them up on purpose). Then sit back and watch the fun, and know that anything she says is irrelevant because you did it on purpose.
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Reply to ZippyZee
NeedHelpWithMom Feb 22, 2021
Hahaha! Her mom might have a heart attack! My mother would have dropped dead on the spot!

If it wouldn’t be life threatening, it would be very entertaining! 😆
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If you have to be with her and this starts up, take the essential pair of industrial strength ear plugs out of your pocket and pop them in your ears. That’s more to the point and also more effective than talking at her.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

my mother isn’t yet THAT bad, but she’s on her way!
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Reply to XenaJada

I went through cancer/chemo and lost all my hair. Mom could only fixate on that, not how sick I was, how depressed, etc. Just that I looked like crap.

After 2 short visits where all she could do was 'mourn' because I looked so bad and it bothered HER, I just went grey rock and didn't talk to her until about 4 months post chemo when my hair began to come back. She was and is still fixated on how bad I look (and yes, chemo will ravage every cell in your body, but I am by no means 'hideous'.)

I just don't talk to her unless I know I am strong enough to handle it. And that's not often.

My MIL is OBSESSED with my weight and the fact I rarely do 'full makeup'. Why she'd care about either of those things is beyond my scope. She told me to my (unmade up face) that she hoped I'd die from the cancer.

I told her I probably WILL, but not for a long time. Pretty sure that disappointed her a lot.

People like this we do not need in our lives.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Midkid58
Chrismci Feb 24, 2021
Oh my word, Lordy Lord! I just HAVE to respond to your post! It almost made me laugh out loud it is so absurd! It also made me want to cry at the same time. I love your truthful and candid words. Your strength shows through! Stay bold and keep loving yourself! It is crazy that some people judge us on our looks as we fight for our lives. It is cruel and unfair. Did your MIL actually say that she hopes you die? What??? Please explain! If that is what she actually said please don't ever see her or talk to her again. I went through chemo almost two years ago. I still don't like my short, gray hair. I am afraid to color it because of the chemicals. My mom said some weird things too. She is pretty shallow and materialistic. Has always put down my looks. Always made me feel ugly. When I lost my hair she said, "Well now we know what you would have looked like if you were a boy!" When my hair started growing back my sisters tried to give advice on haircuts and definitely wanted me to color it. My husband (who is bald and gray) often tells me he doesn't like my gray hair and he has dyed it a couple of times with turmeric. Then he bought me several bright colored hair dyes (Overtone). I put in pink streaks but it still doesn't look cool. I look at past photos of myself and I know I will never look the same. I am also getting older. But I am the same inside and I am proud of myself! I accept the people that I love. I know they are not perfect. They still love me and have good intentions, despite their faults and short-comings. That's all that matters. Maybe eventually I will look in the mirror and like what I see. In the meantime, I will do everything in my power to live a full and happy life! I hope you are finding your passion and doing the same!
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hugs jhall!!

you wrote:
how to deal with abusive cracks about personal appearance that go on...with little to no point?

--unfortunately, there is a point.
all these criticisms of you, make HER FEEL GOOD.

every time, these narcs (often narc mothers against sweet daughters) take you down, they FEEL GOOD. it makes them feel great. like a high. like a victory dance. (do not say you're hurt. that only makes them happy.) (they know you're hurt. they want it!)

there's no end to it.

the only solution is: low or no contact (i don't want no contact).

i experience many of the same examples as you.

you might even notice, that looking back at life...many of your health issues (for example, typical is over-eating, stress eating) come from this bad treatment from our mothers.

it's stressful to be tortured.
psychological abuse is torture.
there are consequences to being tortured.

if you're told terrible things every day...criticized every can you be happy?

but we mustn't let these narcs win.
we must succeed in life (how ever you want to define success). succeed!
professionally, personally, in relationships...

be happy! :)
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to bundleofjoy
BurntCaregiver Feb 24, 2021
You're right on the mark, bundleofjoy. It does make them feel good and happy when they know it's gotten to you and reduced your self-esteem. They feed on it.
Back when the kids were little I had one of the Harry Potter movies playing and my mother was watching. When the dementors came on I asked if she recognized anyone. The kids totally got it and they knew. even now when she tries to start up with me in front of others, especially when the kids are around (they get more satisfaction when there's an audience) I'll yell 'EXPECTO PATRONUM!' Then she's actually embarrassed. Especially when the kids (who are grown now) are around because they remember. With parents like this, they need to be called out every chance you get. Like when they're criticizing other parents about where they're lacking, then brag about all they did for their kids. I will ask in front of anyone, 'When? When did you ever do that for us?' Then she doesn't know what to say and shuts up. It works.
I am sorry you have had to endure the head to toe assessment of a chronic Nag. I too grew up with a mother like that. Obsessed with her own appearance and always putting pressure on us kids. Home haircuts for dad and the four kids but a lifetime of expensive salon colouring, trims and blow-drys for mum. She casually criticised our physique: I was the daughter with the Ugly Feet. One sister had a slight curl to one ear and that was discussed mercilessly often with a view to corrective surgery. We grew up feeling ashamed. Mum scrutinised us all the time. She has always assessed other people from top to toe. Mostly she is disgusted and angry with humanity's appearance. I have endured her pursed lips, eye rolling, gaze BUT nowadays she has to remain silent about my appearance because I wear what I like and as I am one of the last of her children who still speak to her I have told her that I will appear in whatever I feel like, with my super short grey hair, hippie jewellery, rubber thongs and op-shop clothes if I WANT. She has had to ZIP that pestilent mouth when looking at me, her daughter. I still see her face though. I have told her firmly, more than once, to NEVER nag or criticise my own family's clothes or hair or appearance. Recently her estranged son called in to see her and all she could say later to anyone who would listen was "he looked shocking, he's let his hair grow". By the way I try not to spend much time with her. She is best tolerated in large groups of extended family where her ascerbic drivel can be easily walked away from or ignored.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Pelar20
lealonnie1 Feb 24, 2021
"Acerbic drivel" it! My mother is a fat-phobe. Mind you, she weighs in excess of 190 lbs herself these days, but loves to point out others who are 'fat' by calling them 'the big fat one' or other nasty names like that. She had me in Weight Watchers at 9 years old as the only child in a room full of overweight adult women who were made to wear pig masks if a quarter lb was gained on the scale! She constantly points out women with 'horrible and ridiculous long hair' as she finds it unacceptable for some reason. I've always hated her 'pestilent mouth' and still, to this day, wish she would keep it SHUT for 5 minutes!!!! Love your post, you hit the nail on the head about women like this. Sad but true, all of it.
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Yeah, tell her to call an Uber or a taxi next time she needs a ride somewhere.
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Reply to lealonnie1
BurntCaregiver Feb 24, 2021
lealonnie1 - Call an Uber. Preach that truth, sister. Sometimes, you just have to tell a person to STFU no matter who they are or how old. That's my gospel right there.
I know exactly what you're talking about. My mother has done the same to me since I was a child. Always embarrassing me about the slightest flaw, or my clothes, or my size and everything else from A to Z and let me tell you, a lot of it has been downright cruel. Cruel to the point that people would call her out on it when I was a kid because it's worse to be harsh like that to a kid then an adult. I'm almost 50 years old now. Years ago I told her that I didn't want or care about her opinion on anything and have not sought it in my entire life, but if I want it, I'll ask. Since I've never asked it's very unlikely that I'll start now. When she makes a nasty comment about my appearance I tell her I don't care what she thinks. Then she accuses of being "snotty". So, I let her know she has a choice. Either shut the hell up or find someone else to do for her. I've enjoyed my own little harmless satisfaction for years though. My mother is a person who has to have constant reassurance on her appearance and fishes for compliments. I give her none and haven't since I was about ten years old. The most she gets from me is a "you look fine". That's as good as it gets from me. In my whole life my mother has never paid me a compliment on either appearance or for achievement of any kind, and people get what they give in this life.
You are a grown adult and don't have to tolerate that abusive behavior from your mother or anyone else for that matter. It's high time you stood up to her. Let her know ahead of time before she needs you to take her somewhere that if she gives one unsolicited opinion concerning you, or makes one single negative comment that it will be the last time you take her anywhere or do anything for her. Then stick to it.
This is what I had to do and I haven't had very much of that bull crap from my mother for years now. She still attempts at gaslighting and instigating some drama because she's an expert at it and likes to keep her skills up, but I don't take the bait. When that starts or the negativity, or the complaining I completely ignore her and walk away.
Try it. I guarantee your mother will chill her game. Elderly folks often think that being old entitles them to speak their mind anyway they want no matter how hurtful. They learn quick when the threat of their needs not being met and not getting attention becomes real. Make it real to your mother and she'll knock it off. Mine did.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
Sunnydayze Feb 24, 2021
My situation is very similar! My mother must be the the queen in the's always been this way...
I, too, know exactly what you are talking about. My mother just stares at me. Always looking me over and mentioning "something." One day... in a restaurant... she exclaimed, "Well, you have nice teeth." I said, " Well, at least I have that going for me." I think it is a narcissist feature with these mothers. I have always dreaded her visits to my home, because she is also the "home inspector." No matter how great our home looks...she will point out something. If I talk to people in public...she notes that I am a "talker." If I remain quiet... she notes that I said "nothing." If I am eating healthfully and exercising... I am "too thin." She has never once told me I am pretty...she will say... "Well, you are attractive." In her terms that means neat, clean and dressed appropriately! Ugh... there is no way to change her.
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Reply to Sunnydayze

I haven't had a mom since I was in the 4th grade. I cannot identify but as a Mom, I practice this "If I cannot say something nice to my daughter, then keep my mouth shut." In counseling classes they teach this: if someone says you're a purple duck and you know you are yellow - are you going to believe it? Perhaps redirect her attention to a positive comment about her. Sorry you have a broken heart.
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Reply to LNReason

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