Editor’s letter: Honestly, no one is looking at your face

I’m not sure many people would admit to this, but I can’t be the only person who, during various Zoom and FaceTime chats with relatives and colleagues, spends most of that time staring at myself?

I can’t help it. And it’s not because I’m impressed with what I see. Quite the opposite, actually. I complained to my hairdresser recently about a bit of my hair that I insisted ‘puffs out’ the wrong way. He didn’t know what I was going on about. It occurred to me later that maybe it always looks like that. It’s just that this year, thanks to all the conversations we must now have via video, I am constantly confronted with the sight of me. That’s a curiously new thing for us all. And I will confess I am absolutely fascinated. No, make that horrified. All these years, I’ve been merrily going about my business, chatting to any number of people on any given day without ever having to know that my own face is really letting the side down. For instance, I had no idea that when I smile, my top lip all but disappears revealing levels of teeth and gum that I’m not sure are acceptable in polite society. It’s new information, too, that when I’m listening to people, with what I thought was a relaxed, pleasant expression, my mouth sags down, making me look like a very disappointed bulldog.

Maybe I’m being overly paranoid about my appearance, but this is one of the many ‘gifts’ coronavirus has given us, right? And moving out of lockdown hasn’t really helped. I’ve been back working in the YOU Magazine office since July, but social distancing guidelines mean that I am still doing plenty of meetings on Zoom, with colleagues who are just across the corridor from me.

It’s no shock at all, then, to learn in our feature this week that while the pandemic has made a lot of us a lot poorer, cosmetic surgeons are enjoying a boom time. Yes, the Curse of Zoom has seen more people than ever seeking urgent cosmetic correction for their supposed flaws. But is it really the answer? Even if we could Botox away every line, wrinkle, perceived little blemish, is it truly going to make us happier about seeing ourselves on those tiny cameras, via poorly lit offices and kitchens?

Before you consider injecting any life savings into your forehead, do consider that none of your fellow FaceTimers are scrutinising your face. They’re too busy obsessing over their own. You could always do what I did during one ill-fated Zoom call, where I stood up and reached behind the laptop camera to grab a pen.

This had the unfortunate, unintended result of treating several of my colleagues – many of them male – to a very intimate view of right down my shirt. I don’t really recommend it – I still haven’t lived it down – but I’ll say this: no one was talking about anything to do with my face that day!

The shame…

Editor’s picks

Perfect with dresses and cropped trousers. Boots, £189, massimodutti.com

A subtle hit of rainbow joy. Earrings, £20, helixandconch.com

£5 per sale goes to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Jumper, £49, sugarhillbrighton.com