In today’s world, video conferencing platforms like Zoom have become popular tools for adding a visual component to long-distance communication. As a result, this software has become increasingly vital– not only for conducting business but also for catching up with friends and family.
Unlike standard communication methods, apps like Zoom include a video of you and your surroundings that other participants on the call can see. While you’re on a call, it can be all too easy to nit-pick and focus on your perceived (or nonexistent) flaws.
Eventually, a person might focus on these flaws so much that it leads to a newly-coined condition known as “Zoom Dysmorphia.”
What Is Zoom Dysmorphia and How Does It Relate to Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?
It’s completely normal not to like some physical aspect of yourself and think about it on occasion. However, the Mayo Clinic explains that a person diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) thinks about their perceived flaws for hours each day, to the point where it interferes with their lives. They might avoid social interaction as a consequence or even undergo drastic plastic surgery to correct the irregularity.
With these details in mind, “Zoom Dysmorphia” is a newer term coined in response to the rising cases of body dysmorphic disorder explicitly caused by interacting with others online and consistently seeing one’s face on the screen.
After all, staring at our pixelated, poorly-lit reflection can bring many of the elements we dislike about ourselves into the spotlight.
How Common Is BDD?
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) explains that between 1.7% and 2.4% of the general population experiences BDD. That’s about one in 50 people.
The increased use of Zoom and other video conferencing platforms can exacerbate BDD since hours spent looking at our image can cause people to pick up on things they might have missed before the pandemic. They might even avoid getting on future Zoom calls because they’re afraid of what others might think.
Why Can’t We Stop Looking at Ourselves During Zoom Calls?
According to a 2017 study conducted at the University of Saskatchewan, research suggests that seeing oneself more often can lead to self-consciousness and even negatively impact general social interaction.
After all, as you’re watching yourself talk, change facial expressions, and interact with others, it’s perfectly natural to wonder how people view you. But if you become obsessed with what others think about you on these calls, it can be detrimental.
Cyberpsychologist Andrew Franklin explains several factors can cause us to fixate on ourselves during Zoom or other video conferencing calls:
- The strain of staring at multiple faces in tiny boxes, all of which are in different areas of their homes, can lead us to look to ourselves for calmness.
- With so many things happening on-screen at once, staring at ourselves during a video chat helps reduce stimuli that can otherwise overwhelm us.
Navigating the Zoom Boom
Zoom dysmorphia isn’t the only reason the demand for cosmetic procedures has skyrocketed. People are dedicating more time to considering which procedures might work best, and the access to work through Zoom gives you potentially more time to heal following the procedure.
Additionally, since most people are wearing masks and social-distancing from one another, you could have an even lower risk of infection or other potential complications.
The cosmetic procedure industry has experienced a sharp increase – coined the Zoom Boom – in demand. Common procedures include:
- BOTOX® injections – A unique formula that temporarily weakens the muscles that cause wrinkles, leaving behind smoother, younger-looking skin.
- Liposuction – Liposuction is a procedure that helps remove stubborn fat around the tummy, hips, back, arms, thighs, or neck, or other areas where fat is especially difficult to lose.
- Facelifts – A facelift is a type of surgery that lifts sagging skin, folds, and jowls around the face and neck.
- Tummy tucks – Also known as an abdominoplasty, tummy tucks help remove flabby, drooping skin around the tummy, as well as separated or spread out abdominal muscles.
- Breast augmentation – Breast augmentation isn’t just about altering the size. The procedure also focuses on improving the profile and projection.
- Mommy makeovers – A mommy makeover combines several procedures into one package, including breast augmentation or reduction, liposuction, tummy tuck, and/or fat transfer.
Tips for Managing Mental Health and Zoom Dysmorphia
Although cosmetic surgery delivers many benefits for a wide variety of people, it’s not the only option to improve self-image or mental health. Here are several popular alternatives:
A professional counselor can help confidentially dig down and uncover the psychological reasons behind Zoom Dysmorphia. They can then help you make the changes necessary to move beyond toxic feelings, including thought and behavior patterns.
Identify Negative Thought Patterns
Although negative thought patterns are generated unconsciously, consciously identifying and working to overcome them can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost communication skills, and rebuild your self-esteem.
Turn the Camera Off
Most people are more comfortable joining a Zoom call without the camera enabled, which can increase comfort, reduce stress, and feel less invasive. If this is an available option, consider capitalizing on it.
Practice Self-Care & Self-Appreciation
Learning to take care of yourself can deliver a wide range of benefits, including improving immunity and reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. And with lower levels of anxiety, you might worry less about your appearance in front of the camera.