One unexpected consequence of living through a global pandemic is that I’m spending a lot more time staring at my own face these days. Back-to-back BlueJeans meetings followed by FaceTime dates and Zoom happy hours mean that I now spend many hours a day gazing not just at my friends and colleagues, but at my own reflection in the video-chat window.
For me, and for many others, this aspect of video chatting is uncomfortable. One 2014 survey by the US furniture company Steelcase found that 72% of employees feel distracted by their own appearance during video chats, while 58% worry about looking tired or washed out. (Personally, I worry about my skin and whether my bangs are so shaggy they’re veering into Highland cattle territory, but to each their own.) Another 2016 study from the video-conferencing company Highfive found that 59% of employees feel more self-conscious onscreen than they do in real life.
There are a lot of adjustments that we can make to help ourselves look better on video calls—from elevating our laptops to a more flattering angle to adjusting the position of a nearby lamp. (Light that hits us at a 45-degree angle tends to work best.) But for those of us who struggle with deeper self-image issues, the most helpful solution of all may be to log some quality quarantine time looking at ourselves in the mirror.