Online Meetings: We’ll Never Get Rid Of It, But It Has Negative Psychological Consequences For Women | Nina

Two years later, we’re not quite tired of them: video meetings. Psychologists warn that it is easy to use and fast, but also has negative consequences. They lead to a constant focus on one’s appearance, which according to research is harmful to our mental health. Interestingly, this appears to be a particular problem among women.

From selfies to video calls: we have more faces on the screen than we like. American psychology professor Jamie Goldenberg is fascinated by what video meetings do to our self-image. According to her, it all begins with the thing, as she says on the science website The Conversation: it literally means to be seen or treated as an object.

Women are often victims of objectification. Young girls are raised in a culture that puts their looks first, giving them the idea that they are things from an early age. Examples abound in advertising, particularly when it comes to sexual objection. An extreme example is the advertising campaign for Tom Ford’s perfume in 2007, which shows a bottle of men’s perfume between the breasts. The female body is unnecessarily sexualized and transformed into a mannequin. Her body is nothing more than a promotion for a perfume bottle. Perhaps not today, but Jamie Goldenberg argues that we still live in a culture that prioritizes appearance.

dmm2503 spotted © rv

This means that women begin to see themselves as something: in other words, they begin to engage in “self-representation”. This increases if the woman, among other things, looks a lot in the mirror or takes a lot of selfies. The same thing happens indirectly in a virtual meeting: women now see themselves more on the screen as an “object”. Numerous studies have shown that such self-reflection can severely affect our mental health.

Also, self-objection has an effect on your behavior

Studies show, of course, that men also focus on their appearance, but the effects on women are greater. Example: In 1998, researchers had people in swimming shorts or swimwear look at themselves in the mirror. Then they had to solve math exercises. What turned out? The women were worse at math after the experiment than before. There was no effect in men.


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Due to so many video calls, we have become more insecure about our appearance and have become so focused on small flaws.

A study from Kent State University showed that self-representation makes women less able to assess their emotional or physical state. Goldenberg’s team created this as well. During a field study, they asked women how cold they were while out on cold nights. Women who were more focused on their appearance found it difficult to correctly estimate their body temperature. They wore little clothes, but the cold weather did not bother them. So Goldenberg argues that the embodiment of the self hinders the coldness of women.

Defining defects

As science journalist Martin Peters noted the negative consequences of video calls last year: “Doctors speak in the medical journal ‘Facial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Medicine’.” They express concern about the increasing number of patients considering plastic surgery. Due to the many video calls, they became more insecure about their appearance and became focused on small flaws.”

Self-representation increases if you look in the mirror a lot or take a lot of selfies, for example.
Self-representation increases if you look in the mirror a lot or take a lot of selfies, for example. © Getty Images

Goldenberg points out that no research has yet been done into the direct link between self-reification and video meetings. However, recent studies confirm her concerns, showing that women who pay close attention to their appearance and make more video calls become more insecure about their appearance. And people who are less satisfied with their faces also suffer from “zoom stress”: they are literally exhausted from all those online meetings. Again, this effect is stronger in women than in men.

What are the solutions?

Just turn off your camera, then? The American psychologist thinks less. That’s why you cite your physical appearance as well. If people can see you, you can respond to interactions and adjust communication if necessary. It concludes that, in any case, it is good for your own well-being not to constantly stare at your own view. Is there something to keep in mind during all this skype and zoom?


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Do online meetings make you more anxious about your appearance?

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