Society is hyper-focused on physical appearances. Terms like acne and hair loss have skyrocketed to the top of Google search trends, and there’s been a steep uptick of people requesting in-office dermatological procedures. Of course, a pandemic-fueled social media craze may have something to do with peoples’ self-obsession. Still, the increase in virtual communication is also creating a new level of dissatisfaction.
One peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Facial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Medicine proposes that today, people are hypercritical because they see their so-called flaws displayed on a screen all day, every day. In addition, because you’ve internalized societal beauty standards, you tend to notice and scrutinize your image whenever you join a Zoom call.
Unfortunately, staring at your face all day can be bad for your self-image. Eventually, this habit can trigger what researchers are calling “Zoom fatigue” or Zoom dysmorphia. This can leave you hopelessly unhappy with your appearance. If you feel yourself spiraling into this mindset, here are a few things you can do.
1. See through the distortion
When you experience Zoom dysmorphia, it’s important to remember that what you’re seeing isn’t real. Instead, you’re looking at a distorted image of your face, one that fails to reflect what you truly look like in person. The lighting, camera angle, and pixelation simply can’t do you justice, so you get a knock-off version that’ll never look as beautiful as the real thing. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can stop comparing yourself to others and look past the distortion.
2. Remember you’re not alone
If you still can’t see past your virtual likeness, remember that everyone else on your screen is in the same boat. Whether you’re in a conference or a one-on-one meeting, odds are your company is criticizing their own distorted image and paying little mind to yours. If nothing else, this small realization can provide some comfort when you’re feeling insecure and self-conscious.
3. Mindfully refocus your attention
Do you catch yourself readjusting your hair, camera angle, and clothes before or during video calls? These appearance-based behaviors are often symptoms of Zoom dysmorphia. When they flare up, consciously refocus your attention on whoever is talking or the topic of discussion. No matter how many times you get distracted, make sure you recenter. Alternatively, you could concentrate on your achievements at the company instead of your physical appearance to boost your self-image and motivation instantly.
4. Scroll with skepticism
A recent study found that 90% of women edit or apply a filter to their photos before posting them on social media. Thus, it’s safe to assume that most of what you see on Instagram and Facebook isn’t real. Because of that, scroll with skepticism whenever you open these apps and post photos that show the real you, flaws and all. The more you do that, the more comfortable you’ll become.
5. Seek support
Self-help strategies can only help so much. If you find you’re still struggling with Zoom dysmorphia after using these tips, seek support. Schedule an appointment with a psychologist or therapist that specializes in body image. They can help you find treatment through cognitive behavioral therapy and prescribe medication if need be. In addition, sharing your condition with friends and family will help you find comfort and healing. So be open and honest about your struggles.
Overcoming Zoom dysmorphia is difficult, especially if you frequently participate in virtual meetings and video calls. However, it’s entirely possible to kick your obsession and self-scrutiny to the curb and embrace yourself just as you are. These tips will help you on your journey to self-acceptance and help rebuild your courage and confidence along the way.