The Dress Debate: Blue or White? Distraction or Deeper Truth?

the dress

If you’ve spent any time on social media in the past day, you have no doubt seen the picture at the top of this post. In fact, seeing it again on my blog may have just caused you to groan and roll your eyes.

I know, I get it. Over-saturation. In less than 24 hours, everyone with an Internet connection recognizes this dress. It’s the most shared, Tweeted, and Googled dress ever. I have never seen something have the explosive, viral pull of this little Is-It-Blue-Or-Is-It-White dress.

The science behind this mystery dress has been explained, but I still can’t wrap my head around how two people — living in the same house, under identical circumstances — could have such different perceptions of the same thing.

(Those two people, by the way, are me and my son. Or my other son and my husband. Yes, an even split here: Two blue votes, two white.)

I’ve seen many on Facebook complain that this dress is just a silly distraction (which I admit, it was for me at first, too). But now I’ve come see it in another way (no, not a third color scheme): I see this dress as a powerful allegory for life.

In 1961, Anais Nin wrote, “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.”  Never has there been a more viral manifestation of this quote than that (silly) little dress.

Our perception of the most heatedly debated topics — religion, finance, politics — all come from the vantage point of “as we are”.

I was so sure it was blue. My son was so sure it was white. We can’t both be right. Or can we? Tolerance takes on a new hue when we realize that reality may well be only in the eye of the beholder.

What did you think of the dress? 


  1. You want to expand your allegory?
    I will tell you that by staring and blinking rapidly, I can make the dress change colors for me “right before my very eyes”. Though once I do that, it’s hard to get back to the colors I first saw…

    • My husband was able to see it white & gold by doing that. I couldn’t stop seeing blue. (More allegory fodder 😉 )

  2. The timing on this was spot on for us. My 15 year old daughter and I had had a discussion just last week about how we couldn’t really know if someone is seeing a color in the same hue as we see it. Fast forward to this twitter posting and, well, at least we now know the two of us see pretty much the same hues, and we got a little science lesson to boot. BTW, the two of us saw blue and black. 😉

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