Conference call working office

Are video calls making you feel old and unattractive?
Registered psychologist Jacqui Finnigan explains why Zoom could be making you feel gloom

Nov 17th, 2020

Video calling is now part of our everyday lives.

It has enriched our lives during lockdown and allowed us to secretly wear pyjamas on Zoom business meetings!

But it could be having a negative impact on our wellbeing.
Oh god, I look old!
Is that a new spot on my face?
I’m getting a double chin!
Gosh, I look tired today.

Sound familiar?
These are just some of the things we’re saying to ourselves whilst on a video call. We should be focussing on the person who’s speaking, but instead we are consumed by our own appearance. Is this really a big deal?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, am I the fairest of them all?
“When we look at the screen on a Zoom or Teams call, we are technically looking in a mirror,” says registered psychologist Jacqui Finnigan, “and when some people look at themselves it can lead to a lot of self-criticism, comparing themselves to other people on the call.”

This is especially so if you are someone who has low self-esteem and is very focused on appearance or grooming, Jacqui explains. “Having to sit in front of a mirror, all day, on calls would potentially lead to that person becoming more anxious and depressed about their appearance.”

Studies have demonstrated that prolonged periods of mirror gazing increases distress, causes more dissatisfaction with one’s appearance and increases sadness. Jacqui says this is because you’re spending more time checking, comparing, critiquing and criticising yourself.

Mood and self-esteem
“If you are using Zoom and you are in a negative mood or feeling a bit depressed, then remember that it is the mood making you feel worse about your appearance; your appearance hasn’t changed,” says Jacqui. “Mood really influences how we think we look.”

Jacqui explains the importance of where you source your self-esteem from. She describes self-esteem a bit like a pie chart, saying there should be several segments that contribute to your self-worth, not just one based on your appearance. “How you look is important,” she says, “but there are lots of other important things such as relationships, how well you are doing at work and your hobbies that should form your self-esteem. If you base it all on how you look then you’re going to struggle.”

Video conferencing is about connecting with people, not looking at yourself
“When you are on a video call, you’re monitoring yourself, monitoring how you are coming across, wondering ‘do I look professional?’ ‘do I sound ok?’. All of that going on in your head makes it hard to focus,” says Jacqui. “You want to make sure that when you are using video conferencing your attention is on the other person. Think to yourself that spending time looking at your face is not helping you connect.”

Jacqui suggests trying to refocus your attention, “People are on the call because they are interested in what you have to say, they are not set on judging you on your appearance, it is only your inner judges doing that.”

However, there is always help at hand
Jacqui agrees that your appearance is important and there is nothing wrong in taking pride in it, as long as it doesn’t become the only thing that boosts your self esteem.

If video calling has made you aware of new skin concerns, then there are a range of subtle, safe facial treatments you can have to address these. At the Anti Wrinkle Clinic, Dr Yiannis Valilas is an expert in facial aesthetics, with 10 years of experience. He uses state of the art techniques to rejuvenate skin, creating a more youthful and flawless appearance.

Anti wrinkle injections are Dr Yiannis’ speciality, but as a registered dentist he is also passionate about creating a beautiful smile. He provides a range of bespoke treatments including dermal fillers for lip enhancement and facial sculpting. These subtle, yet results-driven treatments can give you are more youthful glow.

You’ve got this!
Above all, Jacqui says it’s all about developing more compassion for yourself. “Self-compassion is when I notice that I’m beginning to have negative thoughts and feelings on my appearance but put them to one side and say to myself ‘I’m here for you’.”

“Instead of saying ‘Oh God, I look old’, say ‘I am going to be on your side and make sure you are focussed on the call, because I think you are fantastic!’”

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