Dr. Dara Bushman is a psychologist and author who appears on numerous media outlets sharing expertise on COVID counseling, trauma, and wellness. She lives in Asheville, NC. This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece. Want to join the conversation? We invite you to write for us. Learn how to share your voice here.
Dear anyone feeling self-absorbed or even obsessed (A.K.A. like crap) when staring at themselves on Zoom all the time,
Holidays going on, pandemic STILL going on, virtual shopping going on x 1000, and my FACE going on everywhere! I wish there was an OFF button for my face! As a psychologist, one of the things I always loved most about my job was meeting with someone in my office, or on the side of a tennis court, or at a park, or on a skating rink, or anywhere I could meet in person. A million distractions could have been going on, and I WAS PRESENT. I was laser focused on the person I was meeting with. Life did not exist around us. No phone, text, or either one of us distractedly staring at our gigantic melon head in the corner of the screen! We were tightly connected throughout our session. A person could fly out of the air and bounce off the ice and I wouldn’t flinch. In a session, I never thought about the goofy facial expressions that accompanied my hands as they waved around louder than I spoke. I never considered the crinkles in my forehead as I spoke about something so passionately that my face was distorted in ways I never knew were possible. I never noticed how the cowlick on my forehead pulled my hair and my brow line in such a way that by mid morning the curl that forms, resembles that of Squiggy from Lavern and Shirley. The curl gets so tight I can hear Squiggy in his squeaky voice saying, “Hello!”.
Now, let’s talk about reality. We used to talk to people and look them right in the eyes. Yes, we still do that, but there is an obstacle – OUR OWN FACES!! We now stare at ourselves all the time. Even when we try not to. We continue to see ourselves in that tiny box in the corner of the screen screaming at us on Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp and google calls.
My mom tells a story of when she drove her mother, my Grandma May, home from getting Cataract surgery. My grandma got in the car, pulled down the console mirror and looked over at her in horror bursting out, “Aimee, what did they do to my face?”
What has living in a virtually warped and distorted version of the Jetsons done to our perception of our faces?How have our new virtual norms impacted our self-esteem and self value? I can tell you, it is definitely messing with mine!
As if vanity was not already a thing in this confusing world. Now finding balance may feel even more complicated to find peace with our natural beauty versus our innate desire to maintain our youth… without utilizing all necessary forces of cosmetic serums, procedures, enhancements and modifications, which we barely have access to in order to stay safe from COVID.
I don’t know the answer to this conundrum. Truth is, many of us are struggling with this despite our best efforts of denial and avoidance. Last month I mentioned Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego’s book Release Your Obsession with Aging: Heal from the Inside Out and my intentions to be clear on my own self care in order to fill my love cup. I gave myself a gift for the holiday season to prioritize ME. But, even in the prioritization of my needs, my face is still staring back at me!
So, I am not proposing we do anything about it. I am proposing that we honor it by talking about it. I am not suggesting that we give it so much energy to fuel its power. But, I am proposing we stop being an ostrich and take our head out of the sand and out of our A**! Through the pandemic scientists and researchers have educated us on the ways the pandemic has cleared pollution, the impact it has had on nature, and the cleanliness of our motherland. Perhaps this is an opportunity for us to go back to basics with our levels of vanity and beauty and connect at our innermost levels. We have now transitioned in a world where pajamas have become an intricate part of our identity and images of us in a raw, unfiltered state is part of our daily uniforms.
What if we honor ourselves just the way we show up and when we notice our reflection, we embrace it because it is us in all our natural glory. And then, we do nothing but say, thank you….
Thank you eyes for seeing, thank you lips for smiling, thank you nose for smelling, thank you mouth for tasting, thank you facial lines for your wisdom, thank you skin for your protection, thank you ears for hearing the voices of my beautiful children, thank you hair for your femininity, Thank you…..
Your no bull-shiFt, advice giving, Zoom-face staring, Mom, Psychologist and wife,