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Around The Bluhmin’ Town: Blue and black or white and gold?

Judy Bluhm~ 3/11/2015

Do you see what I see? Evidently not. Scientists have weighed in on why millions of people all over the world seem to see the exact same dress in two distinct color combinations. It blew up the internet. Twitter exploded. It pushed stories about ISIS onto the second page as people argued, discussed, laughed, and raged about whether a particular dress was blue and black or white and gold. Called “Dressgate,” the story is still a bit mysterious.

When a woman in Scotland named Grace MacPhee posted on Tumblr a photo of a dress that she might wear to her daughter’s wedding, she noted that people were in disagreement about the color. MacPhee saw it as blue and black, but her mother argued it was white and gold. And then the entire universe stepped into the fray to really debate what the “true color” was. In other words, hard news took a backseat to the firestorm that ensued.

So yes, now we have all been educated to the fact that although our optic nerves may send messages about an image to our brains, how we interpret those images is a completely personal and subjective process. Well, I am not buying it! Something else is obviously going on here – otherwise while we watch the Cardinals play football, half of us would see red uniforms and the rest would see blue! No, the scientists have a little more explaining to do about why this particular dress has caused us to see things so differently!

Or is there a simpler explanation? After all, we all know the old saying, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Perhaps, what we really “see,” is our own personal point of view.  Our opinion of events, circumstances, colors, pictures, people (and even dresses) is not always a shared experience. Take the little boy who was with his first grade class on a field trip to one of the big ranches in Skull Valley. When the children were taken into the barn, one small boy ran out and shouted, “I have never seen so much poop! Yuck.” A few minutes later another youngster ran out of the barn, gleefully yelling, “There is so much poop around that I know there has to be pony in there somewhere! And I am going to find it!” Hmmm…this subjective vision could be a stinky situation.

My colleague June and her family moved several times when her children were young. When her daughter started third grade, it had been her fifth school. Struggling to make friends and not doing well in academics, after the first week of school, the little girl Lisa told her mother that her teacher was “the most beautiful woman in the world.” Lisa was thriving for the first time in school, was receiving special attention and had the most positive school experience of her life. When June went to the teacher’s meeting, the “beautiful” teacher had a disfiguring, huge red birthmark called a strawberry hemangioma on one side of her face. And indeed, June said that the teacher was a “totally caring, joyful and beautiful woman.”

Life is good when we “see” the goodness in others. We are inspired by those among us who are able to look beyond the horse manure and “see” the pony, or not notice a physical flaw because inner beauty shines through.

Psychologists have claimed that your “frame of mind” can dictate what color you see when looking at “the dress.” Depressed? Stressed? It is definitely going to have a blue tint and black lace. Happy? Excited? You will love the white and gold version. Hogwash! If this were true, then we might not see a red light as red. And a green light could look yellow! And the world (and traffic) would start falling apart at the seams and all manner of chaos would take over!

Maybe the real story here is about the power of social media. “The dress” highlighted the bandwagon effect of the media and demonstrated that while living in the digital age, the proliferation of social media is uncontrollable and viral content, regardless of what it is, can be passed on at the speed of light.

About that dress? It is really blue and black. I showed the photo to my husband, Doug and he shrugged and asked why I was showing him this blue and black dress. Ha! But I know this is a trick because it is obviously white and gold. And always will be!

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor who lives in the Anthem area. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at