The Zoom Effect: Exploring the impact of video calling on appearance dissatisfaction and interest in aesthetic treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic

Toni D. Pikoos, Simone A. Buzwell, Gemma Sharp, Susan Rossell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: The popularity of videoconferencing platforms has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, there have been concerns regarding the potential for video calls to promote appearance dissatisfaction, as individuals are exposed to their reflection on camera for extended periods.

Objectives: The current study characterized current video usage behaviors and their relationship with appearance dissatisfaction and interest in aesthetic procedures in the general population.

Methods: An online survey was completed by 335 adults currently living in Australia. Multiple aspects of video usage were assessed, including engagement in ‘video manipulation’ techniques to enhance appearance and the focus of visual attention while on video calls (ie, on self or others). The Dysmorphic Concern Questionnaire was administered to determine if video use behaviors were associated with greater body image disturbance.

Results: Over 1/3 of participants had identified new appearance concerns while on video. Dysmorphic concern was associated with self-focused attention, greater engagement in video manipulation behaviors, and increasing appearance concerns due to their time on video calls. Individuals who identified new video-based appearance concerns reported greater interest in obtaining future beauty treatments (eg, waxing) and aesthetic procedures (eg, non-surgical procedures such as anti-wrinkle injections).

Conclusions: This is one of first empirical studies to report the potential consequences of video call usage for increasing appearance dissatisfaction and dysmorphic concern, and to demonstrate a link between the use of video calls and interest in cosmetic procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)NP2066–NP2075
Number of pages10
JournalAesthetic Surgery Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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