Zoom Boom: why staring at yourself is perfectly normal

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Thanks to the spread of Covid-19, the popularity of video-conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams has skyrocketed. In the former case, the company’s value has increased more than thirtyfold, going from a virtual unknown to a company whose market value eclipses that of the US’s top seven airlines.

As a consequence, many of us now find ourselves participating in online meetings where we’re presented with a grid of faces on a screen. And, more often the not, the face we find ourselves studying most intently is our own.

Given that most laptop computers and mobile phones come equipped with unflattering colour representation and a slightly bowed fish-eye lens, it’s small wonder that few of us really like what we see. Throw in the fact that we’re looking down into the camera, and thus emphasising our chins and nostrils, and you have a recipe for lowered body confidence.

These factors agglomerate into a phenomenon that the cosmetic surgery is already calling the ‘Zoom Boom’. Gerard Lambe, a spokesperson for BAAPS (that’s the British Assosication of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) is quoted in Harper’s Bazaar as saying that ‘…with people using cameras more than ever and their visual appearance being scrutinised on apps, [videoconferencing] has certainly boosted enquiries for cosmetic tweaks and procedures. Many people are also aware they are likely to be working from home long-term and want to now start planning their dream procedures”.

This might be viewed as an extension problem of Snapchat Dysmorphia, where predominantly young girls use the eponymous app’s filter features to create idealised images of themselves, and then seek surgery to correct the perceived problem. The only difference is that now, many of us are spending more time than ever looking at ourselves.

It should go without saying that the surgery itself is something that’s impracticable in an age where social-distancing is required, and non-essential medical treatments are getting pushed back. But that hasn’t stopped a dramatic uptick in remote consultations, including digitally-realised mock-ups of what a patient’s face might conceivably look like, post-surgery.

It may be that a sizeable portion of those seeking consultations won’t actually go through with a procedure. What’s more probable is that, having gone to the trouble of asking the questions and paying the fees, these people will form part of a post-lockdown boom in nose-jobs, tummy-tucks, breast augmentations, and facelifts. At least one industry can look forward to good times ahead.

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