My mother, the exhibitionist.

Painting of woman (title unknown) by Jeremy Lipking.

I have written before about how common it is for narcissists (especially somatic narcissists) to obsess over their (and their children’s) bodily functions. I even described my malignantly narcissistic mother’s obsession with my childhood BM’s and the Enema from Hell that was a constant threat if I failed to produce.

But there’s more to the obsession than this. For my mother, all bodily functions became performance art. Modesty was a foreign concept to her.

My mother was always an extremely beautiful woman with a sexy but slender body (which she spent hours every day keeping that way through constant exercise, yoga, and living on only salads, chicken and fish). She is still in good shape but has lost her facial beauty due to age and way too many facelifts which makes her appear to be wearing a mask–to my way of thinking, a sad and final physical manifestation of the psychological mask she has worn her entire life. She has become a walking, talking mask.

In her younger years she was an exhibitionist. She regularly walked around the house naked, or dressed in a flimsy diaphanous short negligee, with no panties on underneath. In fact, she never dressed in actual clothing unless she had to go out. My mother’s perfect naked body was almost completely visible under that sheer garment, especially when the light hit it a certain way. She cared not one whit that a child was present.

In the 1970s, during the womens’ movement, the popular book “Our Bodies, Ourselves” was her Bible. It was kept on the living room table for everyone to see, along with other coffee table books like “America the Beautiful.”

I remember being fascinated by that book, with its graphic descriptions of the most intimate female bodily functions, including sexual intercourse and masturbation. With equal parts of awe and a weird, squirmy, embarrassed feeling, I stared at the many black and white photographs of women breastfeeding, or giving birth, or lying on the OBGYN’s table with their legs in stirrups, or doing yoga naked, or dancing in groups with other naked women, pregnant or not.


I remember when my mother was married, I always could tell when she was having sex with my father, because she would groan loudly enough to make the whole house shake. Her moans and groans scared me at first, but after awhile I got used to it. I could tell when they were finished too, because she would announce loudly that she needed to douche to avoid getting pregnant.

After the divorce, when I was 14, things got even worse. We had moved to a small one bedroom apartment, and she took the living room (at least she had the human decency to let me have the bedroom). As a highly attractive and socially gregarious woman who always needed a source of male narcissistic supply, she had a running string of boyfriends. I was left alone overnight often–which I actually didn’t mind at all–because if she returned home with one of her dates, it meant they slept together on the pull out sofa,and THAT meant if I wanted to leave my room for any reason, I had to walk through the living room because there was no hallway.

Walking through the living room with them in there was so embarrassing, I would skulk through quickly with my eyes averted, trying not to see or be seen, but it never worked. She always wound up calling me in for some reason, sitting up from under the covers, her shapely naked breasts exposed, forcing me to look at her in bed with some man I did not know or want to know. I knew on some level that was her real reason for calling me in. She WANTED me to see.

She also always left the door open when she went to the bathroom. She didn’t care if I saw her. In fact, she would call me in while she was sitting on the toilet to ask me a question or tell me something. She wanted me to see but I have no idea why.


The worst thing was when she was having her period. I remember her describing loudly to anyone who would listen (or was forced to hear) the way the clotted menstrual blood would gush out and stream down her thighs when she got out of bed after it pooling inside her all night. She announced it as if she was announcing she just got a promotion at work or won some award.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. I can appreciate the beauty of the female human body and even its mysterious, intimate, lifegiving functions, but these are private and not something a normal person shares publicly as if they’re discussing the news or the weather. Only a somatic narcissist (like my mother) does that. Because to them, it’s performance art and their body is an exhibit to be worshipped and admired, even during its uglier moments. Modesty is never on the radar.

18 thoughts on “My mother, the exhibitionist.

      • Actually I can elaborate on that a little further. In reaction to my mother’s exhibitionism, for years from my adolescence up through my 20s and even 30s I dressed in the sloppiest, most unflattering, baggiest, most unrevealing clothing you could imagine. I wanted to hide my body, I felt shame in exposing it–even though I never had an unattractive body and was never more than slightly overweight (which meant “fat” to my mother).
        It wasn’t until my late 30s and 40s I began to appreciate wearing sexy or more revealing clothes but I still am careful not to overdo it. When in doubt, modesty is the best policy. You can still look attractive and sexy without letting everything hang out in full view.

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        • I should do a post about this soon, but my mother dressed me as mannish as possible. She was always wanting me to cut my hair damn short like a man. It was bad enough that in high school I was made fun of for being a lesbian and was not.Back then I was blind to what was going on and there were outfits I refused like being told to wear wranglers and men’s flannel shirts. I have talked about this in previous posts. I am not surprised you choose clothing which protected you. Well at least someone was dressed in your household. I went goth in college and wore nothing but black for 4 years. This mode of dress upset her and the mini-me. I still think they both dress very mannish and ugly. When I got into my early 20s, I started wearing dresses, bows and feminine clothing outside of work, and then once I was disabled, nothing but. I have my own clothing style, and have to get custom made clothes. I would dress Neo-Victorian if I was a rich woman but I do not follow normal mainstream fashion whatsoever.

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          • Funnily enough, my mother was also into whole the dressing like a man thing, during the late 70s and 80s when she was working in her public relations job (the perfect job for a narc–it’s all about image). She also became a feminist. It was only at home and when I was younger that she was into the exhibitionist/”performance art” thing with her body. Once she got her cushy executive position, she dressed and acted the part.


  1. Your mother sounds very somatic. Histrionic world of the malignant narcissists. Her focus on her looks and beauty is classic narcissism. It can be bad to have a homely narcissistic mother, but I think far worse to have a model thin narcissist. I tend to think my life would have been more hellish if mine had looked like a model instead of average. The feminism also seem to help promote her narcdom. I had an aunt with that book laying around. So body focused. And feminism used to be about non-objectification but has changed with the generations to make the body and appearances everything. I am not a feminist, as you know. Sorry you had to deal with her dating, [barf] and bringing gentlemen suitors home and flaunting it all. Mine was more careful to present a face of propeity. I can’t spell today hope you know which word I mean. She sounds like she was a victim of sexual abuse too but doesn’t excuse her narcdom and sociopathy and toxic displays to you.

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      • Oh yeah, definitely a histrionic somatic malignant narcissist and an incredible drama queen–think 6 parts Joan Crawford and 4 parts Beth Jarrett from “Ordinary People” and that was my mom. The arguments she would get into with her string of lovers were epic–and it was her doing all the yelling, screaming and hysterical crying. You could barely hear the guys at all, only her . I think she scared them to death. Yet they were all so madly in love with her even though she was a complete insane bitch. (she was drinking a lot too, like Crawford). I learned to tune it out after awhile. It’s amazing what begins to seem normal….I remember one of her lovers she had dumped for a shallow reason (his job was too blue collar for her) told me after the fact that she was a child and he felt so sorry for me having her for a mother. I think I was 19 or 20 then.


  2. Between her two marriages, a period of about two years, my mother often walked around the house in front of us kids wearing nothing but a pair of sheer nylon underpants. No bra, and her dark pubic hair was clearly visible through the white material. At night, she walked around like that with all the windows and curtains wide open and the lights on. Our house was on a busy street that was lined with houses built close together on both sides. Boys in the neighborhood started “teasing” me on, saying I lived in a whore house.

    My mother had stretch marks on top of stretch marks and rolls of flab from having five kids… (she had two more babies later, after she married my stepfather, but I’m talking about before then)… so her body was nothing special, quite the opposite. And yet she paraded her stuff for everyone to see.

    We had no air conditioning back then. One hot summer day my mother told me that it was ridiculous for me to wear my clothes when it was so hot. She told me to take off everything but my underpants, like she did. I was always very subservient and obedient as a child, so I did what my mother told me to do, even though I hated it… I can’t even tell you how much I hated it. I folded my arms across my chest.. I was 12 then, so I didn’t have much up top yet, but even so, I hid my little breasts behind my arms, and then I crawled behind a chair in the living room and tried to be invisible that way. After about an hour or so of that, my mother told me in disgust: “Well, if you are just going to hide back there in the corner like that, you might as well go put on some clothes!”

    One day, shortly after my parents’ marriage ended, my mother, who was breastfeeding my youngest brother in those days, went to the door wearing nothing but a half slip, when the newspaper man came by to collect his money. She was completely naked from the waist up. I had already answered the door and she knew that, her coming to the door then was totally unnecessary. I…. yuck. Just yuck.

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    • OMG, Alaina, forgive me but for some reason the images you describe here struck me as so hilarious I literally spewed my tea all over my lap.

      No, but seriously, that is incredibly sad. Your mother, like mine, definitely sounds like a somatic malignant narcissist and probably a histrionic one too (somatics usually are histrionic and are more likely to be female–while males are usually but not always more the “cerebral” type of narc) What a terrible way for a child to grow up.

      That is so embarrassing about the boys in the neighborhood calling your house the whorehouse because of your mother parading her stuff around in front of the window where everyone could see. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

      Do somatic narcissists have no shame? I guess I could understand if your body is perfect and you want to show it off (well, kind of, if I was a somatic narcissist) but the way you describe your mother, I’m sorry, but what was her point? Why was she doing it? No doubt for the attention.

      I used to know this narcissist friend of my daughter’s who had a baby and made a huge show out of breastfeeding that baby publicly as often as she could. She’d wasn’t modest about it either, but would just yank out the titties no matter who was present and all you could hear was the sucking and mewling sounds of the baby. I mean, it is beautiful…but it’s private and although I don’t think women should be required to go into a restroom to feed their baby and should be able to do it wherever they happen to be, there’s a level of decorum and etiquette about it. If you’re going to breastfeed in a public place, for God’s sake, be a little modest about it and pull over a shawl or do it discreetly under a blouse, don’t just yank the titties out like you’d yank potatoes out of a bag.

      She was definitely a narcissist and any woman who acts in this exhibitionist way is probably a narc too.
      There are some men like that too, but I won’t go there. One was the gay boss I had (this is not a slur on gay people at all, believe me, but if a male is a somatic narc he’s probably gay) who always talked about his colon irrigation sessions openly with actual CUSTOMERS. I’ve know a few others too but like I said, I won’t go there.

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      • You know something… I NEEDED to read what you wrote, about laughing and spewing out your tea! Seriously! I was starting to feel way too serious and sorry for myself, and when I read that the mental image of my mother walking around showing off her flabby stretch marks made me spew out your tea, suddenly I saw the ridiculousness of it, too, and felt myself lighten right up. Ha! Thanks!

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        • Humor is medicine, that’s why I have a narcissist joke page (which I got reamed about by another blogger, probably an N) but I’m leaving it up, not to make fun of narcissists (we know they HATE that) but it lightens the seriousness of the problem and turns them into CARTOONS.

          Narcissists are cartoons. They walk around wearing a damn MASK all the time, and when you think about that, they’re walking, talking parodies of what they wish they could be.

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  3. Humor is my favorite medicine. I like to come up with silly sayings to make fun of myself. Here is one I came up with to make fun of the whole mental illness stigma that I have lived under since I was a teenager:
    Q: Are you in your right mind?
    A: No, I’m in my left.

    Here’s another one:
    That which does not kill me makes me…… GRUMPIER.


    By the way, I just took that Asperger’s test that I read about on one of your posts, and I scored 21. So, no, I am not an Aspie… but… reading the questions gave me a better understanding of what it is, and I can see where I could so easily have gone in that direction. I dated a very high functioning Autistic guy about 15 years ago, I really liked him a lot. He was fun and super brilliant and very different, which was super cool to me. We probably would have stayed together except that he could not get over his ex. They ended up getting back together again.

    Yikes, I am reading myself blind on your fascinating blog! Going to try to get off this computer and get some sleep now. Good night!


    • I thought about that, but she showed every trait of narcissism–lack of empathy, grandiosity, thought she was better than everyone else, haughty, and abusive. She was a malignant narcissist near the psychopathy end of the spectrum. But she did have a lot of Histrionic traits. She used those to manipulate.


  4. Wow…she really was something else. She was definitely Somatic. And she used the liberal women’s movement to justify her sex addiction. That’s not unusual for a sex addict. They need to justify their obsession.

    I can understand why you would gravitate towards a narc male. They say women turn on to men who are similar to their fathers. But I think women also gravitate towards men who have similar characteristics of their mothers.

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    • I think so too. My father is not MN and may not even be a narc, but he is codependent and a huge narc apologist. Ironically though, it was because of him sending me “People of the Lie” that I discovered what my sperm donor was (we had just gotten divorced). He coudn’t–and still can’t–see my mother in that book. He will apologize for her until the day he dies. I think he’s still a little bit in love with her or at least he cares about her.

      I definitely think some of us are attracted to men who remind us of our mothers–although I always go for the cerebral narcissists. I have no interest in somatic ones. I find them boring. But the abuse…yeah.

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