Opinion: #thedress is back with a new message

Carley Hull is a senior news major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at chull9@kent.edu.

Carley Hull is a senior news major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Carley Hull

The dress that sparked the color debate of white and gold vs. black and blue is back, but not for what you might think.

A chapter of the Salvation Army in South Africa has released an ad campaign for domestic violence awareness using the dress for a strong message. The advertisement features a woman lounging in the white and gold version of the dress, while covered in bruises and suffering a black eye. The play on the #thedress Twitter frenzy is apparent when reading the text, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue? The only illusion is if you think it was her choice.” 

The ad made me speechless, showing how emotional a good advocacy ad can make a person feel. This is what advertising should do. Others have tried this powerful approach and failed: You know who you are Nationwide.

On The Salvation Army’s website, a spokesperson gave the reason behind the ad, stating, “The Salvation Army sees the devastating effects of domestic violence on women, men and children every day. We support people who are affected in our human trafficking work, our specialist services, Lifehouses and community centres.” I think this campaign is more relevant than ever and the world could use more.

According to The New York Times, the United Nations has found startling levels of violence against women. Worldwide, 35 percent of women (more than one in three women) reported experiencing physical violence. The UN also reported one in 10 girls less than 18 years old has been forced to have sex. These numbers should make you uncomfortable because even after a women’s rights movement and all the steps women have taken to become equal to men, women are still often abused and blame themselves for the violence. Women are also still striving for the equality and respect we deserve.

I would like to believe that advertisements like this help the world and push people not to ignore what is happening around them or to them. In a world where we are often taught to cope with what life throws at us, fists are not something we should be coping with. They are something we should be stopping. I think awareness like this ad is key as well as speaking up about what we see happening around us.

According to Equality Now, an organization that advocates for the rights of women and girls, 125 countries now criminalize domestic violence compared to the 89 countries in 2006; however, they are not always enforced. This needs to change, and I hope changing the social media conversation to help make a difference will propel that change in the coming years.

Even if you hated all the drama over the dress and fought for what your eyes perceived, in the end, the annoyance led to something good. Unlike the dress, there is no illusion to domestic violence, and I hope changing the social media conversation to the new and improved dress will be a step forward to help more women.

Carley Hull is a senior news major. Contact her at [email protected].