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The Dress Brought Out My Insecurities

A couple came to Purim dressed as The Dress. The man was wearing it in white and gold and his wife was wearing it in blue and black. It, of course, triggered a sharing moment through the congregation: “how did you see The Dress?”

Blue and black.

When it first popped up in my Facebook feed, I didn’t get it.  It was clearly blue and black to me; so much so that it would not have ever occurred to me that someone else would see it otherwise.  There are plenty of colours that straddle a fence, and I understand that some may label it red while others label it brown.  But this wasn’t one of those situations.  It was a deep blue for me.  And underneath the question the poster posed — “what colour do you see this dress” — everyone had written white and gold.

I didn’t get the joke.

I tentatively pointed out that it was blue and black, feeling like I was back in middle school and not in on the joke and therefore had become the joke by stepping straight into it, like inadvertently stepping in dog shit on the grass.  Because everyone else kept saying, “white and gold!  Honestly, how can anyone not see this as white and gold!”  And the more they said it and the less I understood why they were saying it, the more I felt as if everyone was making fun of me.

Like there had been a discussion somewhere else that the best way to make people feel foolish is to create an Emperor’s New Clothes moment on Facebook and insist that something is what it isn’t.  And I just hadn’t been clued in on that decision.  And why hadn’t I been included in that discussion?  Because I was being tested?  Or because someone had to be the butt of the joke?

What clinched the deal was when I brought the picture to Josh and he glanced at it and said, “it’s white and gold.”  What had felt like a giant game of keep-away had now entered my house, and even my husband was in on making me feel foolish that I saw The Dress differently from everyone else.  And not slightly different.  I saw it as completely different, without an understanding of why they were saying two colours that I didn’t see.

Josh promised me that he wasn’t in on some big joke, and after a while, I believed him as we Googled it and discovered that half of the world was talking about this dress.  That was, perhaps, too big a playing field for playing a joke on Melissa.  Plus the twins weighed in with what they saw (one was blue-black, the other was white-gold), and I assumed that they weren’t prepped to take part in a joke.

I’ve read all the articles that say that The Dress highlights our inability to see the world from anyone else’s point-of-view.  There have been points made about everything from racism to autism.  Maybe I am inflexible in my vision of the world, but that’s not why I thought about and discussed The Dress.

My incredulity was because the whole thing made me feel like I was back at the elementary school lunch table, asking for the joke to be explained because I didn’t get it, and seeing everyone laugh even harder over my lack of understanding.  In my head, I was hearing a chorus of “Melissa doesn’t get it!”

And I am still not entirely convinced that all the white and gold people won’t turn to me next week and say, “we were just kidding.  You’re right, it is blue and black.”

Because it is blue and black.


1 nicoleandmaggie { 03.05.15 at 10:28 am }

No matter how I look, I cannot get the gold stripe to turn black. Even if I just block out that stripe. It looks brown to me. The white I can see as either white or blue, but the stripe is always brown.

2 Working mom of two { 03.05.15 at 10:31 am }

I feel exactly the same except it’s obviously white and gold.

3 Ana { 03.05.15 at 10:33 am }

I cannot see the black. On certain screens the white looks blue-ish, and the gold looks brownish, but its like a “that is a white dress that looks blue” kind of blue.

4 DublinGal { 03.05.15 at 10:51 am }

The weird thing is it totally changed for me. In the morning I logged on to facebook and saw the dress as black and blue and didn’t get why people were saying it was any other colour, but then later that day when I looked again all I saw was white and gold! And now I only see white and gold. Weird. The hubby sees blue and black though.

5 a { 03.05.15 at 10:53 am }

Weren’t you the one highlighting your ability to see and organize color not too long ago? This is the result of that ability…

Whereas you think you’re not in on the joke, I just think I’m special and everyone else is crazy. Arrogance or confidence? You pick. 🙂

6 Elizabeth { 03.05.15 at 11:11 am }

^ Exactly. a nailed it.

7 Sharon { 03.05.15 at 11:14 am }

The colors of that dress looked different to me in different photos, but it more often looked white and gold.

I agree with a: this is more a function of your superior ability to see colors than your not being in on the joke. BUT. . . having been the outsider more than once in junior high, I can completely understand why you felt that way.

8 apluseffort { 03.05.15 at 12:34 pm }

I see it as blue and gold. And though this particular internet sensation didn’t have me feeling like the butt of a joke, I’ve had that experience too. My psychic scars from being bullied as a kid run deep.

9 Tiara { 03.05.15 at 1:06 pm }

I felt there was a joke I wasn’t getting either but not because of what I saw, because I couldn’t understand the uproar. I kept expecting a punchline. Remember those emails that use to go around that had a joke & said if you forwarded it to 10 friends then you’d get the punchline? I thought it was something like that I was missing…The whole thing made me feel very confused.

10 Geochick { 03.05.15 at 2:58 pm }

When I first saw it. I thought it’s a picture of blue and black dress with crappy lighting. I can’t make it be anything but blue and black.

11 Another Dreamer { 03.05.15 at 3:25 pm }

At first I saw it was white/gold, and couldn’t understand HOW or WHY anyone would even REMOTELY see it as blue/black. Then I read about how it is a trick of the eyes/brain, compensating for the exposure. When I went back to look at it, it was blue/black. It’s only went back to white/gold for me for a half second, where it very rapidly faded to blue/black before my eyes. It has never changed back. I thought it was a hoax at first, but I consulted DH to look at it (before he heard about it, without explaining) and he saw it white/gold while it was now blue/black to me. I thought it was fascinating.

12 Valery Valentina { 03.05.15 at 3:45 pm }

Why do people care so much?

13 Ann Z { 03.05.15 at 4:23 pm }

I had the exact same feelings, except that I saw white and gold. When it came up in my feed, I thought it was one of those hoax memes, where they get people to answer really obvious questions just to get engagement with a post on fb. I actually googled first to find out what the joke was. It didn’t help that everyone else in the family saw it as blue and black.

Then I fell down the rabbit hole of looking in to the science. I found the whole thing so enormously fascinating. From the neuroscience to watching the dress race across social media, to following how different sites managed the uncertainty of what was going on and scrambled to get some kind of explanation (Snopes was disappointing in this case), to seeing how different people responded to the different perceptions.

After posting a bunch about it that night, and following all the different threads until well past my bedtime, I had a moment of panic that it was the next awful breast cancer awareness meme I thought of you (because of your dislike of those, not because you would ever do that).

14 Catwoman73 { 03.05.15 at 4:32 pm }

I can totally see how something like this could bring out your insecurities. I was in the white/gold camp in this particular case, but it have definitely been on the other side of the coin in the past. My degree is in perceptual psychology, however, so no matter what I saw, this one wouldn’t have caught me. When my daughter proudly announced that it was a blue and black dress, I just smiled, and said, “Yes, honey. It is.” 🙂

15 deathstar { 03.05.15 at 6:04 pm }

I don’t know what pic people were looking at, I saw black and blue and I really didn’t care if anyone else said it was white and gold. And then all the hosts of The Talk were wearing different versions of the dress and they were also talking about it on The Social and when I checked around my FB feed and the internet, clearly they were 2 different pictures of the dress. And then came all the scientific explanations. Having given it 15 minutes of my time, I shut my mind to all the inane noise because clearly people enjoy discussing this sort of thing more than all the ISIS beheadings. Who can blame them?

16 amelie { 03.05.15 at 6:19 pm }

The dress happened on the day I began teaching a unit on electromagnetic radiation including light in the visible spectrum – or color. My class of 24 all viewed the same pic at the same time – about even numbers saw blue and black and gold and white with several able to switch back and forth depending on how they looked at it. This was a diverse group ethnically and culturally and we couldn’t find a pattern to who saw what. I saw only blue and black. My husband saw only white and gold. Best lesson starter ever!

17 Justine { 03.05.15 at 9:16 pm }

I only saw blue and black, too. And thought I was completely insane when even NPR thought it was a good trick. WTF?!?!

I hated middle school. I’m *still* convinced that everyone’s in on [name the thing of the day here] but me …

18 Bronwyn Joy { 03.05.15 at 9:48 pm }

It’s totally white and gold. 🙂

I looked at a version in Wired where they used a digital imaging program to tilt the colours so you could see both versions of it – white and gold or blue and black. And the “blue and black version” was still white and gold to me.

I heard about it differently, so I got all the awesome vibes with none of the middle school stuff. At the same time, I still felt a bit disappointed in myself when I couldn’t see the blue/black version even after Wired went to great pains to “explain” it to me.

19 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.05.15 at 10:01 pm }

I’m jealous of you. I read that it really IS blue and black and no matter what I do, I cannot see it the way I’m told it is.

I want to be a tetrachromat. http://www.blogadilla.com/2008/06/08/are-you-a-tetrachromat/

(And a super taster, while I’m at it.)

20 Northern Star { 03.05.15 at 10:26 pm }

I was black and blue too. I can’t see it any other way. I don’t understand…. It’s such a bizarre picture to have caused such an uproar!

21 Queenie { 03.05.15 at 10:50 pm }

It’s cornflower blue and kind of a brownish gold. My daughter agrees. My DH does not–he thinks it’s white.

22 Davidah { 03.06.15 at 12:13 am }

I also saw it as blue and black the first time I glanced at it, and then after that I saw it as white and gold and could never make it switch back, even when I tried to trick myself. It’s a neat illusion.

23 Infertile Girl { 03.06.15 at 12:38 am }

The whole thing was very weird and I couldn’t believe how much attention was given to it. Actual news channels reporting it like a worthy news story. Silliness! Also Happy Purim (if that’s the correct wishes for Purim, I’m not entirely sure…)!

24 No Baby Ruth { 03.06.15 at 5:57 am }

I see it as black and blue and cannot see it any other way, despite trying and straining my eyes and covering up certain parts of it. I honestly thought people were looking at a different picture or it was because of different screens. But then I asked my daughter, who is 3 and who was looking at the exact same picture on the exact same screen, and she said white. And I was so thrown. It honestly makes me wonder what other things in our lives do our brains process differently despite our insistence that they’re the same.

25 SuzannaCatherine { 03.06.15 at 10:17 am }

I always seem to be behind the curve on these “viral sensations.” Sort of the poster child for “a day late and a dollar short” as my Grandma used to say. That being said, I’m in the blue/black camp. I can’t see it any other way. Now I have to search the articles to find out what that perception says about my brain. I initially thought that there were two separate pictures and it was an Internet hoax type of post. Guess I’m just showing my age.

26 fifi { 03.06.15 at 10:38 am }

I first heard about the dress when a FB friend complained that “everyone is talking about that dress”. So I have a different insecurity: I’m behind the curve on social media.

Incidentally, saw it as white and gold at first, and now it appears pale blue and dark brown.

27 Micah Philips { 03.06.15 at 1:56 pm }

I never knew there can be such difference is color from people all over the world on this. It is very interesting how the human eye can work. I think it is time to let the dress rest. I am tired of hearing about it.

28 Amanda { 03.06.15 at 5:14 pm }

Did you see the buzzfeed article on it? It has to do with the rods in our eyes. I saw it as blue and black and was ALSO SUPER confused on how everyone saw gold & white…
I asked my hubby & he said…”idk…white and tan.” LOL! So there’s another color to throw in there…

If you scroll to the bottom the woman is wearing the actual dress and it is blue and black.

29 Karen (River Run Dry) { 03.09.15 at 3:10 pm }

I couldn’t see it as anything other than blue and black either, and I still don’t really get it. For a while I thought people were playing a joke on me as well.

30 earthandink { 03.11.15 at 11:21 pm }

Hey, I found this cool test and the woman does mention that tetrachromats probably didn’t get fooled by the dress! Made me have to come back and share this with you. (I think I’ve mentioned I’m a tetrachromat too. I only see 37 colours in this test however.) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/25-people-have-4th-cone-see-colors-p-prof-diana-derval

31 earthandink { 03.11.15 at 11:23 pm }

(Although there is a debunking beneath it! Oh well. Ha!)

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