Sunday, 1 March 2015


On February 26, 2015, internet users were plunged into what is probably the most trivial great debate in history: An ugly dress was rapidly becoming the top-trending topic on all major news and entertainment websites, for one reason that I still can't readily decipher: no one could agree on the color of the dress. 

Since I usually tend to pay attention to more serious matters in the news, I was blissfully unaware of the dress and the worldwide stir it had created; that is until it suddenly appeared in my Facebook inbox. 

A friend had sent the photo to me, along with the caption, "What color is this dress, Dani?' I remember at first being confused as to why he would ask this. Wasn't it obvious enough what color it was? I saw only black and blue, and I told him so. He responded by inviting me to ask my family members and other friends what color the dress was. 

Still confused by his strange question and follow-up suggestion, I reluctantly forwarded the photo to another close friend, captioned by the same question, "What color is this dress"? To my surprise, my friend said the dress was white and gold. 

I was baffled. How, and where, could he possibly be seeing white and gold in a dress that was so obviously black and blue? I joked about it and told him he was color-blind. Shortly after that, I noticed that we weren't the only ones who couldn't agree on the color. Low and behold, my entire Facebook feed was covered with posts as to what color people saw the dress to be, with the hashtags #WhiteGold or #BlueBlack. 

I figured people were getting worked up about nothing at all; that perhaps the confusion as to what color the dress was could be easily explained: maybe the color calibration on their laptop screens/smartphone screens needed a bit of tweaking. When I showed the photo of the dress to my sister, though, and we were both looking at the same smartphone screen, she insisted that the dress was white and gold, while all I could see was black and blue. Clearly, the differences in colors that each person saw had nothing to do with screen color-calibration. 

I am not here to argue what color the dress is, since British company Roman Originals, the company which markets the dress, has confirmed that it is indeed blue and black. What I will say, however, is that the dress certainly is creepy. Something is definitely wrong here. I'm not buying the explanation provided by the neuroscientists about people's brains perceiving color differently in relation to the color or colors surrounding the object. I know for a fact that none of my friends and family members who saw white and gold are color blind: they don't seem to have any trouble at all recognizing colors in other photographs and objects. Yet people who are not color-blind stated that they clearly saw a white and gold dress where there was a blue and black one.

So, was it a trick? Was it some sort of mass experiment? Are we being punked? Should it even matter at all? What we need to do is stop disputing what color #thedress is and start wondering what major issue did they use this viral photograph to distract us from.

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