Deep Thoughts by Kim Lowe – Overpriced Dresses and the 2016 Presidential Race: Why Words Matter

Avisen Legal


While President of the Hennepin County Bar Association in 2015 and 2016, Kim blogged regularly with random thoughts about her random thoughts.  These blogs are being “republished” here in the order they appeared during Kim’s bar presidency.  Going forward more Deep (or Random Thoughts) by Kim Lowe may or may not be forthcoming.  It all depends on what thoughts pop into Kim’s head (or under her high school hair) during the course of the day.


Overpriced Dresses and the 2016 Presidential Race: Why Words Matter

Posted By HCBA President Kimberly A. Lowe, Monday, October 12, 2015


In the legal profession, every word we write and say is scrutinized, searched for meaning and then read and reread for every possible outcome. Words are our livelihood. To lawyers, words are like the famous dress that sparked a vicious Tumblr debate earlier this year (check out the debate here and a more professional scientific explanation here). Like the dress, which can be either blue and black or gold and white depending how you look at it, the color of words change according to who sees (or hears) them and when.  While what has been lovingly dubbed on the internet as “The Great Dress Debate of 2015” may seem like a trite example of the importance of perspective, it does a good job of showing how even seemingly unimportant things (like the color of an overpriced dress) can have large, unintended consequences and spark strong opinions.

The implications of this last point can be seen in statements made to date by 2016 presidential candidates. In attempting to identify with one group of constituents, candidates from both sides of the political spectrum have said things to alienate many groups of people, leading to legitimately hurt feelings and more harsh words. These words, which appear white and gold to some and black and blue to others, have only served to divide people further. These words, whether uttered in a blasé manner during a televised debate or carefully considered, infuse the general atmosphere of the political campaign with a feeling of hate and bigotry.

And so it falls to us to remind those who bandy about words without consideration of the impact that those words have on people, and to tell them that they are accountable for the words they speak. It is not our job to persuade people that the dress is one color or another, or even to rise above the debate and prove that the whole argument is really just based on a trick of the light. Rather, it is our job to carefully consider the implications of words and how they might both intentionally and inadvertently affect the people we represent as well as the people we are.

So go ahead, become part of The Great Dress Debate of 2015… just make sure you know what you’re getting into when you tell us which color you’ve chosen.


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Kimberly Lowe

Kimberly Lowe

For over 20 years I have lawyered from the trenches with experience based on a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of how both for-profit and nonprofit enterprises operate. I guide entrepreneurs, executive management teams, boards of directors, multigenerational families, shareholders and investors through all aspects of the business life cycle from formation to operation to exit. Read Kim's Bio.

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