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Mental Health Monday: Feeling insecure on Zoom? You're not alone

Being hyper-critical about your appearance on video calls could point to even bigger issues. We sat with a counselor to find out when you should seek help.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Body image disorders are deeply rooted. With the way we’ve been communicating this past year during the pandemic, they’ve also become nearly impossible to escape.

Are you finding yourself feeling overwhelmingly negative about your appearance during a Zoom meeting? Is it even normal to watch yourself during the call?

Our Sydney Stallworth sat with a counselor to get some answers. Here’s this week’s Mental Health Monday.  

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We met up with Monretta Vega, a counselor with Huntsville Psychotherapy and Counseling Services. She says, “Yes! It is very normal to watch yourself while you’re speaking on a conference call-- while you’re on Zoom or Skype…” 

So, why do so many of us find ourselves doing it? 

Vega says, “We do kind of look at ourselves like ‘Okay, you look alright!’, ‘You’re doing okay.’, ‘Keep smiling.’, ‘Don’t look away.’... You know, we’re constantly checking ourselves and those could be those anxious moments of wanting to make sure that we’re still presenting ourselves in the best way possible. So, it’s very common to kind of look at yourself and check yourself out from time to time.” 

‘Very common’ is right. High Five did a survey with Zogby Analytics to look into issues that can manifest on online video conference calls. The survey finds almost 60  percent of adults are more self-conscious on camera than in real life.

And almost a third (30 percent) of people spend more than half the time on a conference call watching themselves. 

This is basically a recipe for disaster if you have to work online during the pandemic and you have issues with the way you look. 

Monretta Vega tells our reporter, “There’s a difference between checking yourself out and being engulfed in it. Now, that’s the catch with Zoom and body dysmorphia. I am forced to see myself now. When we work with individuals who are dealing with body dysmorphia, one of the things that we find is that they do not like to view themselves, whether that’s via mirror or even just seeing their reflection. This has been one of those situations where they’re forced to do that. I know some people may say, ‘Oh, you can turn your camera off. Not in all situations.” 

We all have things we’re insecure about. 

The ‘High Five’ survey says their interviewees felt insecure about their hair, teeth, even the bags under their eyes. 

But, when does it go from facing common insecurities to needing to seek help? 

We asked Monretta Vega when people should consider seeing a professional. Vega tells us, “... We avoid taking pictures, we avoid being on Facetime. We absolutely avoid anything that shows us. We would rather go in person so you can see me, rather than me having to see myself. So, when we start to almost get disgusted with our image, and we feel horrible about ourselves, I would definitely encourage you to speak with someone and address these feelings and emotions…. If you have confidence, continue with that! But, if you are feeling like you are less that, or inadequate in regards to your body image and your appearance, definitely reach out to a mental health professional.” 

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