Picture by: Alexandra_koch/Pixabay
During these times of pandemic, plastic surgery demands to look younger and more attractive on the online smart working platforms have seen a massive rise in London
Although we’re now used to sitting in video calls and watching our colleagues through a tiring computer screen, many of us find ourselves constantly distracted during daily virtual meetings. Not so much because of the dog barking in the background, or our clumsy roommate; it’s the sight of our own face. And the longer that little image stares at us from the screen, the more we begin to notice imperfections and criticize our appearance; crow’s feet, disproportionately large noses, folds on the neck and so on.
Aesthetic doctors and plastic surgeons from all over the world, during and following the first lockdown, recorded an exponential increase in requests for treatments, invasive and non-invasive. It’s been named ‘Zoom Boom’. For many it’s the direct consequence of smart working, but also of the only way to interact with relatives and friends: from a birthday party to a meeting with a lawyer, the appointment is on Zoom. More than a new Big Brother, it’s a remake of the Snow White story. “Magic mirror on the wall- who is the fairest of them all?” we ask the screen that mercilessly sends us an image that doesn’t seem to belong to us. The reaction, especially for the age group 35 and up, those who in normal times are not used to posting selfies and therefore are not so attentive to the expressions on their face, is one of disbelief followed by panic, which then becomes a desire to remedy. The truth, explains Dr Maryam Zamani, founder of the Skin Matters clinic in London, is that Zoom’s eye does not return an accurate image of how we really are, “the features closest to the lens are shown in an increased and distorted way.” “This is how the demand for nose surgery has grown out of all proportion” confirms Dr Tijion Esho, founder of Esho Clinic, offices in the London borough of Wimbledon and Newcastle, as well as TV star of the Channel 4 program Body Fixers. Very active on social media, Dr Esho in the past coined the term ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’, in response to the growing demand of younger customers to want to become like the image of themselves distorted by social media filters. The lockdown has now brought out another group of customers, and another pathology, which Esho has defined as ‘Zoom panic’; it mostly concerns the over 35, who in recent months have been trampling for retouching on the most evident features on the camera: neck, eyes, and lips the most requested among the quick fixes.
Another element that contributed to the increase in requests is the fact that it is now easier to find time for any post-operative hospitalization; this is how even the most invasive treatments that had been thought of for some time are no longer postponed: you don’t travel, and often you can’t really move from home “you can always be present at a meeting via Zoom and no one will know that just a few days before you have had your breasts remade or have undergone liposuction surgery”, concludes Zamani.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) – as seen on the Save Face trade association website – confirmed that its affiliated doctors have reported increases of up to 70% in requests for virtual consultations during the lockdown. And London leads the ranking. Although women historically account for a greater percentage of cosmetic interventions than men, the Zoom Boom effect is not only valid for the fairer sex. Dr Munir Somji, a physician who works at Dr MediSpa Clinic in London, says he has a long line of men requesting hair transplants. Hours spent in front of the screen can affect wrinkles, but they don’t cause alopecia, yet but “when you look through the zoom lens and you’re in a well-lit room, your hair will look thinner no matter what you do”. “We expected an extremely quiet period “concludes Save Face director Ashton Collins” and instead we have endless waiting lists and – as with the previous lockdown – this is one of the sectors that is almost recession-proof. Demand is higher than ever “.
So, is everyone happy and beautiful now? Not really, judging from the other side of the coin. For many women who consciously decided to refresh their image during the lockdown, there are many others who denounced the myth of Narcissus as a reason for sexist and inappropriate requests on the workplace. It is the result of a recent survey, which found that employers were asking female employees to dress ‘sexier’ and wear makeup during video calls. Published by the British law firm Slater and Gordon based on a survey of 2,000 employees working from home during the first lockdown, the report found that 35% of respondents had experienced at least one inappropriate request from their employer to wear makeup, do something with their hair or dress more provocatively. The reasons offered by their bosses were that “this would be appreciated by the customer and would help generate business”.
Criticized by the press and by various human resources departments, who keep inviting to denounce such attitudes, the thesis now seems to be reflected in very recent research conducted by the University of Memphis, where the good-looking professors were judged to be more competent than their colleagues less cared for. As if beauty still got the better of the brain in 21st-century workplaces. Even if the new office is on Zoom.
Words: Deborah Melchiorre | Subbing: Arwa Nadeem