Body Image: The Negative Effects of Zoom

By: Lauren Zoneraich

Due to the transfer of meetings, classes, and other events from in-person to Zoom, people are experiencing an increase in self-consciousness from looking at their faces on a screen. In normal interactions, we do not need to confront our own image, but on Zoom we constantly face it. During Zoom meetings, it may be difficult to avoid focusing on how we look when we listen, talk, and emote. Continually staring at our own image can bring our insecurities to the forefront of our minds. In fact, our perception of our image may become distorted the longer we look at ourselves.

Zoom meetings may be especially difficult for people who already struggle with body dissatisfaction, or its more severe form, body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphic disorder is a preoccupation with one’s appearance, especially minor aspects of appearance which one perceives as a defect or flaw. People with body dysmorphia may have low self-esteem and believe that the perceived defect in their appearance makes them ugly or deformed. The preoccupation with the perceived flaw may cause anxiety in social situations. People with body dysmorphia may frequently check their image or groom themselves as a means to “fix” their perceived flaws. Features on technology, such as the “selfie camera” on the iPhone, serve as mirrors that enable people to repetitively perform these checking behaviors. The selfie camera also promotes preoccupation with one’s appearance. The Zoom screen is a permanent, overstimulating mirror.

A survey of a class at Cornell University revealed that the main reason students do not keep their cameras on during Zoom classes is due to insecurities about how they look. Zoom has implemented some features to combat these body image issues. Users can choose to “Hide Self View” so that they cannot see their own image on the Zoom call. Still, although they cannot see themselves, people may still worry about how others see them. If one is constantly staring at oneself or worrying about how one looks, one may not be able to focus on the content of the meeting.  Mind-wandering may decrease the level of happiness one feels while participating in a certain activity. Thus, eliminating distractions may make classes and meetings more enjoyable for participants.

If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or body dysmorphia, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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