Writing in the journal Facial Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine, the authors noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a massive shift towards remote work and living, with people spending record amounts of time on virtual platforms with evidence indicating that these remote trends will persist even when conditions improve. Zoom has allowed life to go on in an ever-changing world, but may be affecting the way individuals view themselves, they said.
The authors noted a surge in patients citing their appearance on Zoom as a reason to seek care, particularly concerned with acne and wrinkles. “A recent analysis of Google search trends during the pandemic showed the terms acne’ and hair loss’ are increasing in this newly virtual reality,” the researchers said. They attributed this trend to the association of acne and hair loss with anxiety and depression, common psychological conditions during quarantine. “We suspect the trend may also arise from people constantly seeing themselves on video and becoming more aware of their appearance, said Arianne Shadi Kourosh, from Massachusetts General Hospital, US, and one of the authors of the article.
Before Zoom took over as the metric used to value one’s appearance, people used selfies and an arsenal of photo editing apps to create filtered versions of themselves. Dubbed Snapchat dysmorphia, the influx of people hoping to look more like their edited selves has caused widespread concern for its potential to trigger body dysmorphic disorder. The authors noted that in 2019, 72 per cent of American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery members reported seeing patients seeking cosmetic procedures to improve their selfies. In addition, higher levels of engagement on social media have shown to correlate with increased body dissatisfaction, they said. “Unlike the still and filtered selfies of social media, Zoom displays an unedited version of oneself in motion, a self-depiction very few people are used to seeing on a daily basis,” explained Emmy Graber from the Dermatology Institute of Boston, US.