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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Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: What is it?

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Body dysmorphic disorder is an intense and distressing preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in body appearance. Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder ruminate on their perceived defect for an excessive amount of time. Some body dysmorphic disorder sufferers may have a minor physical abnormality, but the preoccupation with it is out of proportion.

A common feature among those with body dysmorphic disorder is the tendency to engage in a compulsive or repetitive behavior. Common compulsive or repetitive behaviors include, checking of mirrors, excessive grooming and make-up application, excessive exercise, repeatedly asking other people how they look, compulsive buying of beauty products, and persistent seeking of cosmetic surgery. Sufferers often feel they are unable to control the behaviors. This can be detrimental to daily functioning and cause significant distress.

Although body dysmorphic disorder is seen in both men and women, the disorder is often manifested differently between the genders. Men with body dysmorphic disorder are more likely to demonstrate a preoccupation with their genitals, muscles, and thinning hair. Women with body dysmorphic disorder are more likely to have a co-morbid eating disorder, and have a greater preoccupation with weight, hips, breasts, legs, and excessive body hair. They are also more likely to hide perceived defects with make-up, check mirrors, or pick at their skin.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. 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, visit


Griffiths, M. D. (2015, August 13). Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Retrieved May 8, 2018, from