Narcissists, appearances, and clothing

Narcissists are most concerned about how they appear to the world.   It’s not about “substance”, unfortunately, because they have no concept of that word.  It’s not even about the “have’s” and the “have not’s” as much as it’s about whether you appear to “have”.

So, often time, narcissists are focused on what they wear and see it as a reflection of themselves.  This isn’t all the time – as some narcissists believe they are above others based on skills other than what they wear or how they look (such as being extremely smart).

My ex is interesting in that he values how he looks and presents himself, although he is oftentimes unkempt himself.

He was also very concerned about how his wife looked, and now about how his children look – which are extensions of himself, and representations of him.  For e.g. – he refused to get me the simple, no-diamond engagement ring – because “no wife of mine is going to wear anything less than a 2 carat diamond”.  (which I eventually sold to cover legal bills).  He had the same demeaning way of looking at the clothes that I would pick out for myself – telling me that they weren’t good enough, I didn’t look sexy enough, I needed to wear better brands, more expensive clothing, etc.  He couldn’t buy my argument that no one cares whether I paid $22 for Ralph Lauren socks, or bought them for $3 at TJ Maxx  (and if they did care… I didn’t care that they cared 🙂

As I mentioned – my children are dealing with that now.  He has been having them change their clothing as they arrive on his Friday’s and change it back when they leave on Sunday’s.  He tells me that they “look like houligan’s” and that I “should dress our children more nicely”.  He says that they are “not dressed appropriately for school”.  (my son is in daycare… so what is ‘appropriate attire’ for daycare anyway??”  The daycare policy just says that they have to be in sneakers and not open toed shoes, and that they should have clothes that fit the weather outside.  Ok, got that 🙂

My daughter is taking the bulk of the issue recently, however, as he purchased her clothing from Nordstrom’s for her birthday.  She says these are “lame” presents.  It doesn’t stop there, though.  He sent me an email to let me know about the clothing he purchased which he wanted to send to my house.  It is worth pasting here:

“I’m giving <our daughter> some clothes for her birthday that she is going to bring home to you. I’d like her to go to school in these clothes from time to time. They’re not dressy, but they’re a little nicer than some of the clothes I’ve seen her in. I think it’s important for a young girl to have a good image and I think teachers are people too and they imply certain things based on how someone is dressed. Maybe they could be her Thursday clothes or something like that. I really would like your support on this so she sees us working together.”

Usually, I think before I respond.  On this day…I admit I didn’t.  Here’s how I responded:

“I allow <our daughter> to chose her own clothes.  I firmly believe in individual expression and not stifling the next generation’s imagination, innovation and creativity.  If Steve Job was only ever allowed to play on PC’s and conform to that code, we wouldn’t have had Apple in the world. 

Additionally, she is basically dressed at the same level of “niceness” as every other child at school.  She is adored by many teachers for who she is as an individual, which is allowed to be supported by her ability to choose her own style.

I apologize, but “encouraging” <our daughter> to conform in clothing or any other style, thinking or other form of individual expression is not something I can support.

All the best,”

So the clothes came home, and my daughter was pissed with it.  She eventually showed me the clothes and admitted that some of them weren’t too “bad”.  But she said she wasn’t going to where them, because that would be pleasing her dad, and not pleasing her.

Then a couple weeks after, her dad asked her about the clothes.  She told him she’s not an adult and that wearing fancy clothes doesn’t matter yet (she was so proud of herself for sticking up for herself).  She then tells me how her dad said “your mom is feeding you bullshit”.  Really?? What father says that to their 8 year old daughter?

The next week, he asks her again about not wearing the clothes he purchased.   She comes home to say “daddy called me a jerk, and he said I look like a jerk in my clothes.”  She then says she is “never forgiving him” and that he is “so selfish”.

Good for you, kid!  I am glad to see that she is recognizing the situation for what it is and standing up to it.  It gives me hope!


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