The Shiny/Painted Legs Optical Illusion


Last February people caught wind of a shocking internet sensation that was known as ‘The Dress’.  The Dress was viral meme where viewers disagreed whether the color of the dress was black and blue or white and gold.  Over 10 million tweets mentioned The Dress with hashtags such as #thedress, #blackandblue, and #whiteandgold.  It was the shocking photo that made millions of people ask the question, “what color is the dress?”.

That meme was SO 2015.  What’s the newest internet meme illusion this time?  The Shiny Legs.  It’s ALL about the shiny legs this year!  For those who are just peeking out from under the rock, the shiny legs meme started after Twitter user @msbreeezyyy posted a photo of shiny legs yesterday afternoon.  The photo was released with the caption, ‘Once you see it you can’t unsee it’.

Millions of viewers are now debating whether they see shiny legs or painted legs.  So what’s the verdict?  Shiny or painted legs?  At first glance, it seemed like they were shiny legs on the photo.  After viewing it a few times, you’ll notice that the white is basically blotches of white paint on the legs.  It may seem like a silly optical illusion trick, but this photo has gone viral in less than 24 hours.

This wasn’t the first popular optical illusion image to have gone viral on social media.  Let’s go back to the time of The Dress – a black and blue/white and gold dress that had everyone scratching their heads.  A washed-out photograph of a dress was posted on Tumblr on February 26th, 2016.  This dress prompted millions of users to discuss what colors they saw and were confused by the other colors people were seeing.  It led to heated arguments about what the colors of the dress were.

So what’s going on here?  Why are people on social media so obsessed with these confusing photos?  These photos are just great examples of optical illusions.  Optical illusions are unique works of visual art that plays tricks on our brains.  Our brain sends messages that the photo is one thing, but then the brain discovers another image within the photo.

Take the classic vase illusion for example.  At first, you see a white vase in the photo.  After viewing the image for a few seconds, you’ll notice two faces in the background between the vase.  You now see that two images are created within the photo that your brain sees.  Optical illusion is a unique art form that interacts with what you see and your brain plays tricks on you, seeing images that aren’t really there.  Similarly, both the vase and the shiny legs internet sensation is an optical illusion where your brain is being fooled by what you are seeing.

It was interesting to see another optical illusion become viral.  Optical illusions were always so fun to look at as a kid and I loved the kind of tricks my brain was playing at the time.  This kind of visual art has a funny way of toying with your mind, conjuring up something that seems to be there.

While everyone is tweeting about whether the legs are shiny or painted, everyone’s brain is playing tricks on them and socializing about it.  Social media acts as a guiding point for people to discuss the art they found earlier.  Who knows, maybe it isn’t even white paint on the woman’s legs.  All we do is sit back and watch the slew of comments roll through social media platforms.

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