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White and Gold or Blue and Black?: The Dress That Will Haunt You Forever

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Colgate chapter.



       February 26th, 2015, the day social media went crazy over a tacky lace bodycon dress. Do you see the dress as white and gold or blue and black? When my roommate asked our group chat what color the dress was I responded plainly with “white and gold?” I was confused as to why she was even asking. Our entire chat was split on the question, arguing between blue and black and white and gold. We all started freaking out, sending pictures to everyone; collecting answers from as many different people as possible. According to Business Insider, if you see “Blue and Black: In conclusion, your retina’s cones are more high functioning, and this results in your eyes doing subtractive mixing. White and Gold: our eyes don’t work well in dim light so our retinas rods see white, and this makes them less light sensitive, causing additive mixing, (that of green and red), to make gold.” No matter what I read, I could not fathom the idea that my roommate only saw blue and black. We were both so confused by the each other’s response. I could have bet my life that the colors were at the very least light blue and gold. In my mind, there was no way the dress could be black. I tried, I wanted to see it the other way, but I simply could not. Later in the evening, I took out my prescription contact lenses and put on my glasses. My roommate showed me the dress across the room on her phone, then I finally saw it, the dress suddenly appeared to me as blue and black. I instantly started screaming and covered my eyes in fear. I was frightened by the change in colors, blaming the switch on witchcraft or some other f*cked up demonic sorcery. I hated the thought of it changing because I was so completely sure that it was 100% white and gold. The color change was so startling that I actually began to cry. The moment I saw the dress from my roommate’s perspective felt like an out of body religious experience. I started thinking about the epistemology of perspective. When I brought the image closer to my eyes it returned to white and gold. I have been living with corrected vision since I was 10 years old. My near sightedness has always been a burden in my life. I base my sense of reality on the notion of “a shared image.” Shared observations of the environment is what grounds us in solipsism, the belief that one’s mind is sure to exist. If you can see saw that, I can see that, we can all agree that we see the same thing, a comforted sense of shared understanding, providing faith in reality. We believe in the hard facts, the tangible knowledge of what we can see, smell, taste, hear and touch. The polarized debate over the color of this hideous dress quickly removed this sense of security. From colors to political ethics we simply do not all see the same, but once we do see the other perspective, that experience in itself grounds us in reality, providing a deeper understanding of visual, emotional, political affirmations on all sides of the spectrum. 

Elena Havas is a Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Colgate University. She is an English Major with an emphasis in creative writing as well as a Minor in Film and Media Studies. She began blogging for Her Campus in the Spring of 2013. She has made new initiatives to expand Her Campus across Colgate's Campus. She is a native of New York City and some of her interests include life advice, pop culture, women's rights, public policy reform and referring to herself in the third person under her alias notoriously known as "lanes".