The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
People spend a huge amount of time, money, and effort to look good, for work and for social life. But now that much of our interactions are via videoconferencing, how should they rethink what they do?
Obviously, people don't care as much about wearing nice-looking shoes right now. (My guess is that many a woman is pleased at the break from heels.) Some people might still wear a shirt and a tie, which would be visible in a typical video head shot, and perhaps even a jacket; but is that normal these days, even for business meetings, given that everyone knows that everyone is talking from home? Or is it seen as especially valuable, precisely to distinguish the business conversation from one's normal home life? (I would certainly wear a jacket, shirt, and tie for a video argument in court, though don't put me under oath about whether I am wearing dress pants ….)
Nearly as obviously, people who care about their appearance (whether they want to look beautiful, look professional, or just have others easily see their facial expressions) should think about the lighting in their rooms. Nonetheless, I've been in videoconferences and seen oral arguments where people didn't think enough about that, likely because they've never been in the habit of thinking about it.
What about makeup? My guess is that some kinds of makeup that make people look better in real life are pointless on many videoconferences (though much may depend on the video resolution). Others, on the other hand, might possibly be useful. After all, many of us never wear makeup except when we're on TV, where the professionals assure us that we need it to avoid looking bad. Videoconferencing isn't necessarily the same, but might it be similar, at least in some respects?
Or are there reliable apps, beyond just Zoom's "Touch Up My Appearance" and similar features, that can take care of this without any work for us? (When I've worn makeup for TV, it was of course applied by professionals; even if you prove to me that I'd look better with a certain kind of makeup on video, I'm not sure I could learn how to do it well for myself.)
Naturally, Instagram influencers and the like have thought of this a lot, but I'm not sure if that carries over to videoconferencing, which I think tends to be much lower resolution. And in any case, why do research when I can start a conversation among our readers? Let me know what you think about this.