#TheDress that “came closer to breaking the Internet than Kim Kardashian's bare behind” has been cast in a new light by the Southern African branch of the Salvation Army, which placed the garment-seen-round-the-world in a startling new ad promoting domestic violence awareness. In it, a woman wearing "the dress" (in white and gold) lays beneath a tagline asking why it's so hard to see "black and blue." The woman is bruised, obviously a survivor of domestic violence.
Created by the Johannesburg branch of the Ireland/Davenport agency, the awareness raising ad made its debut in the Cape Times newspaper yesterday. Raising awareness is an important goal everywhere, but perhaps especially in South Africa, which some reports have ranked as having the highest rate of violence against women in the world. While it's worth remembering that awareness alone doesn't actually stop violence, it's a step in the right direction — and could bring some solace to survivors, no matter where they live.
The ad is not without its critics: tying a long-standing, serious and complicated issue like domestic violence to a silly, flash-in-the-pan meme has struck some as flippant or trivializing. An organization — whether it's a non-profit or a tone-deaf corporation — trying to catch the tail-wind of a Twitter meme has bad precedents, and might seem profiteering.
Yet, after all that, if at the end of the day, the Salvation Army can succeed in raising awareness, and help women find the support they need, then we'll call it a success.