Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 12:01 PM EDT

Dress Gate—The Dress Color Debate

Feb 28, 2015 12:53 AM EST


You probably caught a glimpse of it on your Facebook news feed at least once, if not several times over the last few days.  Here's how it worked:  First, you look at the image and then determine what color the dress is.  Is it white?  Is it blue?

On Thursday night social media all over the world erupted in a fierce debate over the color of this dress.  People saw many colors and voiced their opinion on the color.  The debate became so fierce the topic began trending on Twitter. 

About three-fourths of people believed that the dress was white and gold, while everyone else believed that the dress was blue.  Some people even reported seeing other colors on top of the blue and white. 

This epicenter of this world dividing dress is located on the Scottish Isle of Colonsay.  The dress was purchased for a wedding and was to be worn by the mother of the bride.  So, one day the mother snapped a picture of the dress and sent it to her daughter so she could see it.

"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," singer of the band Canach, Caitlin McNeill said. "When my friend showed the dress to her fiance, they disagreed on the color."

They weren't alone.  Others also began to disagree about the color of the dress, so the daughter took to Facebook for help. 

"We discovered this photo of the dress for the bride and couldn't agree on the color," band member, Alana MacInnes says. "After this, the whole wedding party was in a dispute over [its color]." So one of the band members took the contested photograph and plopped it on a fan page dedicated to a woman named Sarah Weichell.

Guys, please help me," the musician pleaded. "Is this dress white or gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can't agree and we are freaking the f- out. ... I CAN'T HANDLE THIS."

Then the thing went atomic. "It seems to have taken over the Internet!" MacInnes says. "It's pretty mental how this all came about."

The rest, as they say, is history; with the debate exploding on Facebook being picked up by celebrity and common man alike.  Celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber weighed in with their opinion that the dress is blue and black, while others such as Anna Kendrick and Rob Lowe believed it to be white and gold.  "From this day on, the world will be divided into two people. Blue & black, or white & gold," tweeted Ellen DeGeneres.

While the debate itself will be something to remember, the truth behind this visual trickery comes down to the science of how human eyes work.  It has to do with how light enters the eye and the split-second decisions made by your brain.  When you view something like this dress, your brain may eliminate one color and focus on another.  "Our visual system is supposed to throw away information," University of Washington neuroscientist Jay Neitz said. 

So now that you know why everyone sees it differently, what color is that dress?

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