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.