Does Increased Use of Online Meetings Impact Women’s Perceptions of Their Face and Body Satisfaction?

A study led by Gabrielle N. Pfund, a graduate student in the department of psychological & brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, investigated whether the increased use of online meetings, video chatting, and other forms of online communication that have become standard during the COVID-19 pandemic, has altered women’s perceptions of their appearance. Unlike in‐person interactions, individuals’ faces are mirrored to them on‐screen as they view themselves from an observer’s perspective allowing them to inspect their appearance in real time.

Researchers surveyed a large group of American women on their use of video chatting services, self‐objectification, video chatting appearance comparison, and appearance satisfaction.

The study found that participants who engaged in more video chatting appearance comparisons reported lower face and body satisfaction. Furthermore, video chatting appearance comparison was associated with more frequent usage of certain Zoom features, such as the “touch up my appearance” feature, and more time spent looking at oneself on video calls. In contrast, those who spent more time engaged with their families over video chatting services reported greater face and body satisfaction.

The authors conclude that “given how people have adapted to life during the COVID‐19 pandemic, video chatting will likely be a prominent outlet for individuals to conduct business, receive an education, and interact with loved ones even after the pandemic eases. Therefore, continued examination of the effects of video chatting on appearance satisfaction and eating pathology is paramount.”

The full study, “Video Chatting and Appearance Satisfaction During COVID‐19: Appearance Comparisons and Self‐Objectification as Moderators,” was published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. it may be accessed here.

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