There’s a debate dividing the Internet that’s splitting apart offices, marriages, and friendships alike. It is…
What color is #TheDress?
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to #DressGate. Some see the dress as white and gold. Others see blue and black.
And the two sides cannot agree.
The debate began on Tumblr on Thursday when a user named Swiked posted the image of the dress, above, along with a plea: “Guys please help me — is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the [expletive] out.”
The image immediately caused controversy: “My class just had a debate over this. Half sees black and blue, the other half sees gold and white. Someone please explain this…”
"If that’s not gold my entire life has been a lie," replied Swiked.
The image spread like wildfire and, from Facebook to Twitter to media sites, everyone is mystified. In a Buzzfeed survey, 74 percent saw white and gold, while the other 26 percent saw blue and black.
Taylor Swift freaked out on Instagram:
Even Kim and Kanye are divided:
Then, celebrities began mud slinging about the color of The Dress:
And here’s some more on what Hollywood is saying:
Well, it turns out that the real dress is actually blue and black.
(Sorry, Team White and Gold)
The picture was initially posted on Tumblr by a 21-year-old singer named Caitlin McNeill who lives on the tiny Scottish island of Colonsay. She explained to Business Insider that the dress was initially worn to her friend’s wedding, by the mother of the bride.
"What happened was two of my close friends were actually getting married and the mother of the bride took a photo of the dress to send to her daughter," McNeill explained. "When my friend showed the dress to her fiancee, they disagreed on the color."
The bride then posted the picture on Facebook and her friends continued to debate the color of the dress.
“All of our friends disagreed,” McNeill said.
There were no questions about what color the real dress was at the wedding. It’s blue and black, as evidenced by this actual photograph of the mother of the bride, Celica Bleasdale, and her daughter, which was provided to Buzzfeed:
(Photo: Lindsay Maden via Buzzfeed)
It’s only with the originally shared photo, which was shot with a cell phone camera in bad lighting, that the debate rages.
This writer first saw the dress as gold and white, until glimpsing the image below — the actual dress as sold on the website of the UK retailer Roman Originals (which, for just 50 British pounds, or about $77 US, can be yours!). Once I saw this image, the original dress photo above changed to blue and black and I can no longer see the dress as white and gold.
If you think the dress is white and gold, try scrolling up and looking at the initial photo again after you view this image. What does it look like now?
(Photo: Via romanoriginals.co.uk)
But still, why do different people see different colors? And how can those colors change?
Theories are running rampant across the internet.
Deadspin examined the Photoshop data attached to the image, pulling the dress image into the program to see what color Photoshop deemed it. The answer: blue and black.
We talked to Julia Haller, MD, ophthalmologist-in-chief at Wills Eye Hospital, where she is currently at a meeting of The Macula Society (in other words, a gathering of vision experts and researchers from all over the world). And you guessed it — #TheDress is the topic of the moment at this meeting.
"None of us have ever heard of this great an individual difference" in perception, Haller tells Yahoo Health.
There are two possibilities for what is happening, she explains. “Basically, there are two parts of seeing. The first is that light focuses on the retina, and the nerve tissues pick up images; rods help us see in the night, whereas cones help us see in the daytime. There are slight differences at the level of the cones in how we each see color. One way this might be happening is that, in that variability at the level of the combs, by random chance, this image is magnifying that … 0.1 percent individual difference we all have.”
The second part of seeing, Haller says, is that “information from the retina is sent via the optic nerve to the brain.” In the brain, contextual processing occurs — this is why colors may look different at different times of the day. “There are differences in ambient light and interpretation, and the brain will weed out things like reflectants and changing bits of data,” she says. "For some reason, this particular photo and the lighting is throwing off that normal process, and magnifying the difference."
Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue opines that it’s a sensitive test of red-green color deficiency. ”I’ll bet most of the people calling it black are men. It’s consistent with cone deficiency, and red-green would do it for this hue,” he was told by Dr. Stephen McLeod, chairman of UCSF’s ophthalmology department. Pogue is running a sex-based poll at the bottom of his post to test this idea.
A theory posted on the forum Neogaf blames your eyes:
Blue and Black: 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.
At Buzzfeed, writer Claudia Koerner called a lighting expert friend, who had a pretty interesting explanation:
After a minor freak-out (because I somehow saw it both ways at different times), I asked my friend Ben, a post production supervisor in Los Angeles, to weigh in.
You know, the people who make your TV shows look good between filming and the time they hit your screen?
According to Ben, the photo — taken with a camera phone in poor lighting — casts the whites in a blue tone and mutes the gold to a darker color. People who see blue and black are seeing the photo at face value. People who see gold and white are compensating to the photo’s lighting and aesthetic.
What do you think: black and blue, or gold and white … or something else?