An opportunity appeared on Facebook to join a Zoom call featuring a speaker who sounded promising. I already had my day planned, working in my home with a part-time housekeeper to get a whole-house cleaning done. So I knew instead of joining the meeting “live” that I would substitute my photo as a place holder and mute the sounds of the busy work going on.

Be honest: When you’re cleaning the house, do you dress up? Fix your hair? Put on makeup? Because we’re friends I’ll share what I looked like:  a plastic headband kept the hair out of my face. I was wearing slippers, pocketless yoga shorts, a t-shirt, and my daughter’s old candy-striper apron to carry my phone around with me so I could listen to a story while I cleaned.

A few days later I came across a story on Vox that discussed how women respond to live Zoom calls. “I’m sorry” are the first two words out of many female mouths. What are they apologizing for, you ask? Their wrinkles, their double-chins, lack of make-up, roots showing, etc, etc, etc. In other words, nit-picking their physical appearances to the point of ad nauseam.

We all want to look good; I get that. I don’t know anyone who purposely sets out to look bad when they’re going to be seen by others. And yes, I’ve taken training on ways to enhance how one comes across on a Zoom screen that I use when I’m teaching classes because I don’t want any distractions to get in the way of my message.

But no apologizing. In fact, a couple of weeks ago in a Zoom session on body language, I reached the point of how important it is to smile with your eyes. A real smile isn’t just with your mouth; the mouth and the eyes should work together automatically.  So I leaned into the camera and showed the class the crow’s feet around my eyes. “This,” I said while tapping at the corner of my eyes, “is the reward for a lifetime of smiling. And I’m quite proud of them.”

So for your next Zoom call, spruce up as much as you want, slap on some lipstick, ladies, if that improves your mood, and don’t apologize for anything. But if you’re wearing a candy-striper apron, you might want to remove that.


I wrote on a similar topic in Feb 2018. You can read that here.

VOX article

A man’s view of his own over-apologizing

The story behind a true smile