photo 2

Breaking down the dress

Last night after stressing about a pretty ugly dress on the internet, I decided to let the world know that the dress was, in fact, white and gold.  You can read the post here.  I saw only the colors white and gold and no matter what I did to manipulate the photo, I couldn’t fathom how anyone could possibly see black and blue.  Below is said dress (but you can reference the original image in a Buzzfeed article).

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 8.31.52 PM

I think I’m losing my mind because when I attached this image I saw white and gold…. and now I see blue and black. SOS HELP


I analyzed the dress and talked with various people for an hour and a half then wrote the blog post, so upwards of two hours were spent on a picture of a dress.  In an effort to remove this dress from my mind (and get ready to hang out with friends), I took a shower and played Missy Elliot’s Pandora station.  I got ready and hiked in the snow to get to my friends’ house.  I wasn’t surprised to hear discussions of the dress when I got there, considering I had already spoken to a few of them about this conundrum.

I was staying strong about the fact that I saw gold and white when I looked at the image above, the images in the Buzzfeed article, the image on my phone and on my computer, images on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter then the unimaginable happened.

I saw blue and black.

Now this may not have been such a big deal if I hadn’t tried every trick in the book to make myself see those colors.  Nope, it happened when I was trying to prove my point to those blue-and-black-seers.

I legitimately thought that it was a fake picture and someone had altered the image to be black and blue but then I looked at my blog post (with an image I had previously seen white and gold) and I saw blue and black.

I immediately started screaming and threw my phone away from me (I’m not dramatic at all……..) letting everyone else know that I, too, had seen the blue and black.  As I write this post, I feel that same sense of panic because I attached the above image maybe 2 minutes ago and it was white and gold and now it’s blue and black.


Sorry, I’ll go back to the moment I lost my mind.

After running across the room and trying to make sense of this as everyone laughs at me, I finally worked up the courage to look at my phone again.  Still, I saw blue and black.  I can’t compare this to any other experience I’ve ever had because it was as if reality had switched and that what I had previously seen as facts, were now false.  What else was I seeing wrong?  Have I lost my mind?  Why did I once see white and gold?  Why do I now see black and blue?

The chaos subsided after few moments until I started seeing white and gold again.

More than 12 hours later, I still don’t understand why this happened, nor do I understand why I was starting to see different versions of the image.

Yeah there are explanations on Yahoo! and about how we perceive light and that the image is over exposed so we’re interpreting it as white and gold but once you adjust the colors in the image to make it less exposed, it’s a blue and black dress, or something like that.  Mashable even claims it knows where the dress can be purchased, but I’m still not convinced.  This is some sort of sorcery and aliens must exist.

Kidding.  I’m sure once I relax and forget about this dress, I’ll be able to see the validity in the explanations, but until then I’m still confused.

Alright, now that I’m done rambling about my own experiences with the dress, I think it’s important to look at why and how everyone is talking about this dress.

The post was already on Tumblr and had received a lot of attention, but when it was posted to Buzzfeed at 6:14 pm it was getting ready to go viral.

A friend of mine tweeted this link at 7:09 pm and I replied saying I saw white and gold at 7:13.  I have no proof of this considering I wasn’t on the journalistic hunt (shame on me) but the article had only 9 comments.  I puzzled at this optical illusion and sent it to a lot of people.  An hour and a half later when I decided to blog about it, I looked at the comments section of the Buzzfeed article again and it had 189 comments.  The top comment had hundreds of likes (you’re going to have to trust me on this) and it had only been a few hours.

Discussions of the dress were on Twitter happening between my friends, random anonymous Twitter accounts and even celebrities took to this platform to share their opinions (Justin Bieber thinks it’s blue and black and a friend of mine thought that Justin claiming it to be true made it the truth…… no).

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 1.25.54 PM

Instagram users hopped on the trend too.

photo 1photo 2photo 3


The last image is a play on Drake’s new album cover that’s written in that style reading “If you’re reading this it’s too late.”

Snapchat wasn’t left out of this and I saw videos of my friends in arguments about what color they thought the dress was.  Snapchat stories, including mine, were full of mentions of the dress and it was great.

It’s not like there’s a listserv for life that everyone gets when something cool happens, like Alert Carolinas or emails sent to members of an organization like a sorority listserv.  That didn’t happen here, so how did this become viral?

An article on Fast Code Design analyzed an interview of Gawker’s editor Neetzan Zimmerman on the Wall Street Journal as well as analysis from Wharton behavioral scholars.  The article attributes emotional content being a leading factor to whether or not something will go viral because emotions are contagious.

On the surface, the dress doesn’t seem like it’s emotionally charged but Mindy Kaling said it best:

Read the bottom tweet first then the top one because that's the order they were written.

Read the bottom tweet first then the top one because that’s the order they were written.

It doesn’t matter what two colors you see the dress as, you see it as the truth.  “Seeing is believing” is a popular phrase that many of us use to determine the validity of something but it works against us in this case.  When I could only see gold and white, I didn’t want people telling me that I was wrong or that I was doing something wrong and seeing those colors because of an error.  I was also trying to not tell others that they were wrong, because in the back of my head I knew that it was possible (other than when I thought everyone was in on some joke that I didn’t know and that it was a conspiracy).  Gold and white was my reality so it was my truth.

I was confused and stressed when trying to figure it out, so yes, emotions were most definitely involved.  A classmate of mine (that I won’t name) told me that she cried about the dress.  Yup, emotions are definitely involved in the dress.

When I saw black and blue after only seeing white and gold, I had a lot of emotions with confusion, panic and excitement being the most intense.

Whether you see blue and black or white and gold, you can probably agree with me that how quickly and how far it spread is incredible.

That being said, I don’t want to see that dress ever again because I’m losing my mind trying to figure out the truth.