This I know is an incredibly unhealthy attitude to have and detest feeling that sense of having to match up to her standards.
I really like the insight in your post, and especially this. I wish for you that you match up to only your own standards, and that at some point your mother's words cease to hurt you.
The messages our parents put in our heads can be very difficult to erase. Over time, those comments about appearance just seem to magnify and shake our self-confidence. My mother began commenting on my weight when I was in college. "You're looking a little wide in the rear," she said.
But I remember comments like that when I was even younger. When I was 11, I was getting a haircut, and she told the hairdresser that she preferred me in bangs because my forward is too narrow. I still have bangs, and I'm 44. As a teen, if I did not spend the 30 minutes it took to curl my long hair with a curling iron, I was asked, "why don't you do something with that hair?" In fact, I still wear my long hair straight, and I'm still asked "when are you going to do something with your hair?" As if the style I've chosen isn't sufficient.
Then there was the acne. I heard endlessly about how bad my skin looked. When I was high school, I began refusing to leave the house without makeup, and I do the same to this day. I'm extremely self-conscious about my skin.
She does the same with my brother. At Thanksgiving, she asked him why he hadn't gotten a haircut, as if his hairstyle were a poor choice on his part. If we respond with, "I like it this way," she will respond with a sarcastic, "Oh. Whatever."
These comments that are meant to "help" often are not helpful at all. They are destructive. It's not as if we are unaware of our weight, our skin, our hair, our weak chins. As a child and teen, I did not feel accepted for who I was, and this feeling carried through well into adulthood. However, I know that the comments come from my mother's fear that my appearance is/was a reflection on her. It's a narcissistic tendency on her part.
That the comments continue into our adulthood is rude. Our mothers likely would be respectful enough not comment on their friends' appearances. "Oh, Marion, you're looking a bit wide in the rear. You could stand to lose some weight." The perception of "ownership" where children are concerned does not exist with friendships, and the boundaries are clearer. Imagine if I said to my mother, "Gosh, when are you going to touch up your roots?" When I was a teen, I once told my mother that I wasn't sure her blouse matched her skirt. She came unglued.
I have been able to overcome many of the boundary issues where my mother is concerned, but my lack of confidence about my appearance is still there. I wish I could say otherwise. There is the feeling that acceptance only comes when you meet all the criteria that have been set for you; however, I have learned the hard way that the bar always shifts. No matter how hard I try to meet the standards, they seem to change, and there will always be something wrong. To counter that, I am working at bean dipping and other deflections so the stings don't hurt as much.
Deep down, I know I'm not the one with the problem. The problem is my mother's own self-confidence.