This is an older Anne Helen Petersen newsletter, about self-perception and the labor of beauty and how video calls make it all so much worse.

I’ve been thinking about Botox for a year now: It was going to be for “when we went back to in-person” and then it was going to be for “when I get a new job.” I still haven’t gotten it; instead I immediately turn my “self view” off when I join a meeting. But I was on a different call platform yesterday where I couldn’t find that feature and…yeah, this is pretty much exactly what i did:

I stopped wearing make-up on a daily basis a few months into the pandemic, and have come to recognize that make-up-less face as wonderfully my own. Yet on camera, it looks more tired than I feel: more wan, more hollowed out. Sometimes, when I’m on a call where I need to be impressive, I’ll put on a face of makeup, which makes me feel more “put-together” — which is to say, more in control — but somehow I still look more tired than I feel. In these cases, I often spend the call self-adjusting: if my cock my head this way, if I raise my brows this way, if I concentrate on keeping my mouth closed and not letting that little bit of front tooth stick out, then, then, will I feel more like myself?