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.
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.”