The Dress Has Nothing to Do With Retinas

The world lost its ever loving mind last night after a user on Tumblr posted a photo of a rather unattractive dress and posed the simple question:

“What color is it?”

Answers came in from all corners of social media. Even celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Taylor Swift (the love of my life) gave their opinion on whether the dress was gold and white (YES) or black and blue (NOOO). Aside from scaring everyone into thinking they were color blind, this dress experiment shows us something else.

Nothing, not even a simple article of clothing, is at it seems.

Context is everything when looking at an object or interpreting a message. In the case of the dress, people looked at the photo on different devices and from several different angles to arrive at the color conclusion. No matter how we angled our screens, there was no singular answer.

Perceptions of Islam are the same way. You can see a woman in hijab and either think oppressed or religious or political statement all based on the context you’ve got within. All based on which screens you’ve been looking at.

You can be on a plane with a man wearing a turban and think nothing of it, or think that you’re about to die amidst a terrorist plot.

You can see a white police officer and either feel protected or feel in danger.

It’s not about the message or the object. It’s how you’ve been trained to think. It’s about the mental conditioning you’ve gone through. In the case of the dress it’s about how your eyes work, which according to a lot of studies, is also part of social conditioning.

What we should take from the dress is that everything around us is worth a second look. And hearing the opinion of someone else shouldn’t be a hassle, it should be what we’re all open to. Spark debates! Argue about things! Disagree with Taylor Swift and believe that the dress is white and gold. Because, I swear on a box of pizza, I looked at that thing on three different websites and it’s white and gold.

Most importantly, look at things with your own eyes. Don’t blindly follow the majority vote but take the picture, zoom into it, and shift it till all the angles are covered.

Photo obtained from