TIME World

This Stunning Drone Footage of Island Surfers Will Make You Desperately Want a Vacation

Taken in Indonesia's gorgeous Mentawai Islands

Can’t take a vacation right now, because of silly obstacles like your job or money or your kids or fear of flying? Well, this video is kind of like a little vacation in itself.

It features drone footage captured in the gorgeous Mentawai Islands of Indonesia and comes complete with soothing but upbeat music. So grab your headphones and allow yourself a five-minute escape from it all.

(h/t Boing Boing)

TIME society

How the Average American Man’s Body Compares to Others Around The World

"When you look at the images side-by-side, you can really see the differences"

Pittsburgh-based digital artist Nickolay Lamm was on vacation in Catalonia, Spain, last year when he noticed something. “I think I’m being objective when I say that a lot of the people were just very fit,” he says. At least more fit than what he saw back home. And so Lamm decided to dive into body measurement statistics collected by organizations like the CDC to create models that represent the physique of the average man from different countries.

“Basically, I wanted to represent how we as a country are a little overweight when it comes to other countries,” he says. “Obesity is a huge issue, it costs our health care industry so much money, so I just wanted to create a simple way to illustrate something people probably know in the back of their minds, they just haven’t seen it all laid out so clearly.”

Nickolay Lamm

While the images first went public last year, they are making their rounds online again — right in time for Halloween. (A time when body image is at the back of people’s minds.)

Nickolay Lamm

“When you look at the images side-by-side, you can really see the differences,” Lamm says.

Nickolay Lamm
Nickolay Lamm
Nickolay Lamm

Lamm doesn’t know why exactly these images resonate with an audience, but people always seem surprised. “We see all these numbers and statistics,” he says, “but sometimes we just want to see it laid out.”

Nickolay Lamm

The artist is perhaps best known for creating the anti-Barbie. The soon-be-released Lammily doll is based on the average American woman’s proportions, rather than unattainable measurements that would make it hard for a real woman to walk or even just exist. He also hopes to create a male version of the doll after the product goes to market.

Lamm does note that scrutiny regarding body image is often directed toward women rather than men. “It’s interesting, I remember I was at a bar once and guys were comparing all the other women, but they kind of look like the images I made,” he says. “Who are we to judge when we aren’t looking perfect either.”

TIME celebrity

Here’s What Blue Ivy Is Wearing For Halloween

Jay-Z, Beyonce and Blue Ivy Carter onstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California.
Jay-Z, Beyonce and Blue Ivy Carter onstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Beyonce and Jay-Z dressed their two-year-old daughter as Michael Jackson

The media can’t resist a celebrity in a costume on Halloween, and Blue Ivy is no exception. Beyonce and Jay-Z dressed their two-year-old daughter as Michael Jackson to celebrate the holiday.

Keeping with the theme, Beyonce went as Janet Jackson.

Not be outdone, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West dressed their young daughter North West up in a skunk costume. Of course, Kim documented the occasion on her Instagram account.

TIME celebrity

Today Was a Fairytale for Taylor Swift, Who Dressed as a Winged Unicorn for Halloween

Taylor Swift Visits "The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show"
Taylor Swift visits "The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show" at Z100 Studio on October 31, 2014 in New York City. Kevin Mazur— Getty Images

Or as she calls it, a pegacorn

Katy Perry may have won Halloween with her Cheeto costume, but Taylor Swift’s get-up is pretty good too. She dressed as a winged unicorn, or as she called it in an Instagram post, a “pegacorn.” For those who don’t know, pegacorn is a portmanteau of “pegasus” and “unicorn.”

Tay-Tay’s been super busy this week, so props to her for still finding the time to dress up and celebrate the holiday. We can only assume she also found time to bake some Halloween-themed goodies for her besties.

TIME Crime

Subway Robbery Suspect Said ‘Jared’ Diet Failed

Zachary Torrance says he didn’t lose weight

The man suspected of robbing a string of Subway sandwich shops in Alabama told authorities he did it because the “Jared diet” didn’t work for him, and he wanted his money back.

Jared is the name of a man who became a spokesperson for Subway after he purportedly lost a significant amount of weight by going on a diet consisting solely of fare from the sandwich chain.

Zachary Torrance, 18, was arrested at a Hueytown, Alabama, Walmart, after a citizen matched his face to surveillance footage. Torrance is suspected in Subway store robberies in Birmingham, Midfield and Adamsville, WVTM Birmingham reports.

[WVTM]

TIME Culture

Nik Wallenda on Why He’s Walking a Tightrope 50 Stories Above Chicago

Discovery Channel

TIME gets inside the mind of a man who will attempt to walk a tightrope across the Windy City's skyline, on live TV

On Nov. 2, Nik Wallenda will try to outdo the feats that seven generations of his daredevil family have done: the scion of the Flying Wallendas will walk a tightrope across the Chicago skyline, up an incline for half of the stunt and wearing a blindfold for the other.

This is the Discovery Channel’s latest bid to capture the world’s attention with live broadcasts of life-or-death events (like April’s planned ascent and wing-suit jump off Mount Everest that was derailed by a tragic avalanche). And this is Wallenda’s follow-up to dramatic tightrope crossings over Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon in recent years. Doing something ever-more daring, he says, is the way to be successful in the daredevilry business.

Wallenda will start his walk on a wire 588 feet above the Chicago River. First, he’ll traverse an incline the length of about two city blocks from one skyscraper to another, ending at a height of 671 feet—making it the highest balancing act in his family’s history and his steepest walk ever. From the second skyscraper, Wallenda will don a blindfold and walk a level wire 543 feet above the ground to his third and final pillar of safety.

TIME spoke with Wallenda about why he chose Chicago, what makes him risk his life and what he hopes viewers get out of watching him on TV or Discovery’s live stream.

TIME: Growing up in the Wallenda family, did you feel you had a choice about whether to join the act?

Wallenda: I actually felt like my parents did everything they could to get me out of the business. In fact, I know they did. I was going to study to become a pediatrician, because the business had struggled financially and my parents were having trouble making ends meet. And they wanted me to have nothing to do with it.

Why did you decide to do it anyway?

I started at such a young age. My uncle called me when I was getting ready to go away to college and asked if I wanted to be part of recreating the seven-person pyramid in Detroit, Mich. And I talked my parents into allowing me to do it, and when I got there, I realized there was an amazing opportunity. We just needed to change the direction of our business and we could be successful in it. I had struggled with going to college because I had so much passion for what I did, performing. I started walking a wire when I was 2. So that was really a turning point, the revelation that we just needed to change our business model.

Is that business model now centered on record-breaking?

It’s centered on continuing to keep the name in the spotlight. My great-grandfather did an incredible job of that, creating the seven-person pyramid and doing many amazing walks around the world. And continuing to keep his name in the spotlight. Really, that’s what it was about, never being complacent but continuing to push on and move forward.

And how will this feat be pushing yourself in a new way than all the feats you’ve done before?

In two ways. One is I’ve never walked up an inclined cable. I’ll be walking up a 15-degree incline for this event, which is extremely strenuous. It changes your center of gravity and how you balance and everything in that sense. In the second portion, doing it blindfolded, which is something I didn’t even realize was possible until a few years back when I started training, taking away that most important sense, which is vision as a wire-walker. It is definitely the most challenging walk I’ve ever done.

Once you have that blindfold on, how do you mentally and physically change your approach to staying on the wire?

Mentally, it’s the biggest challenge of all. I’ve done this so long, muscle memory sets in. That’s why I can do it. But mentally, overcoming those fears is my biggest challenge in life, for sure. Putting myself in a place of confidence, knowing that I can do it. Training in really tough conditions makes me confident that I’ll be able to do it over the city of Chicago.

Why did you choose Chicago, rather than, say, New York or San Francisco?

All of those are on my radar, for sure. Chicago’s something I’ve worked on for a while. My sister lived there for 13 or 14 years. I spent a lot of time in that city. I was absolutely attracted to the name the title the “Windy City.” And it worked out where Chicago was able to give us approval. We were able to get the buildings to approve and all of that. So that’s why Chicago’s next. I’m working on many more.

When you’re getting these approvals, whether it’s the mayor of the city or the owner of a building, what are their hesitations?

For the most part, there’s not a lot of hesitation. Of course they’re all worried about my safety. But I think I have an amazing track record of eight world records, as well as walking over Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. And of course that builds confidence in them. In the end, the media attention from around the world is only positive for the city. This special will air live in over 220 countries around the world. The visitors’ bureau can’t afford a commercial like that, for two hours long. I don’t think anyone in this world can afford to pay for a commercial like that. So it’s definitely great for them, just like it was for Niagara Falls … Of course, as a building owner, they’re concerned with liability. What if something happens? And really more than anything concerned about the safety of their building, which is where [all the] engineers come in.

As you said in the beginning, they’re concerned about your safety. Is there a scenario in which you fall and it’s not a good commercial for them?

I don’t know. You look at NASCAR, and people dying on occasion, and it doesn’t hurt their sport. That’s for sure. They still have every endorsee you could ever imagine. I don’t know for sure if it would be good or bad. My great-grandfather lost his life in Puerto Rico. And it surely didn’t hurt tourism in Puerto Rico. Would you say I’m never going to go to Chicago because Nik Wallenda fell there? I don’t think you would. So no, I don’t think it is a bad for them. Of course, I’m all about staying on top of that wire.

Obviously the commercial value is not the important factor if that terrible outcome happens. As much as you can imagine what you might be thinking if you did fall, would you have any regrets?

I don’t think so. I’ve lived an amazing life, and continue to live every day like it’s my last. And I think everybody should live that way. Of course, some of my training is about staying on that wire, and catching that wire, and holding on for 20 minutes. I’ve got redundant rescue plans within 90 seconds. It’s not as though I get up there carelessly. There’s a lot more science and engineering that goes into it than you could ever imagine.

Why do you want to do this and what do hope people get out of watching it?

Everything I do I hope inspires–actually, I know inspires many people. Maybe not all of them. But I hope to inspire people to continue to push themselves to become better at what they do. This walk is all about continuing to push myself to not become complacent but continue to work harder, move forward and become better at what I do. And I hope to inspire people that no matter what their challenges are, if they’re willing to work hard enough, they’ll be able to accomplish whatever their dreams are in life. Mine just happens to be a little more unique than most.

Is there an element of this, like soldiers going back into battle or thrill-seekers, that you just can’t live without, an energy from performing daredevil feats like this?

I’m not your average daredevil. I’m definitely not an adrenaline junkie. I certainly love my wife and my three kids more than anything in life. And if they asked me to stop tomorrow, I would. If they asked me not to do the Chicago walk today, I would not do it. So that’s not my life. My family’s done this for over 200 years. I’ve done it since before I was born. My mom was six months pregnant with me on the wire. I’ve walked the wire my whole life. And it may be hard to comprehend, but this is life to me. It’s not an occupation. It is not a job. Very seldom in my career do I get a rush out of what I do. It’s about the love and passion for what I do.

TIME society

Every Infant Should Dress as Ruth Baby Ginsburg for Halloween

Stop trying. This is the best costume of 2014

Considering reproducing? We now submit Exhibit A for why having a baby could be the right choice for you: This infant dressed up as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Quick, someone give this kid a Notorious RBG shirt immediately. The Ruth Baby Ginsburg Halloween costume should be every infant’s Halloween costume.

(h/t: Elle)

TIME halloween

Here’s a Picture of North West All Dressed Up for Halloween

You're welcome

“My little stinker is waiting to show daddy her costume,” wrote Kim Kardashian, in the caption to one of her adorable Instagram posts featuring her daughter with Kanye West. “Halloween has started early this morning.”

TIME society

11 Ways to Trick People Into Thinking Your Regular Clothes Are a Halloween Costume

You'll be asked what you are so many times, you can test them all!

So you don’t like dressing up for Halloween. And while you’re completely comfortable with your decision to abstain — be it due to time, money or just general ennui — you probably aren’t excited for the inevitable person in a sexy Frida Kahlo costume stopping you in a bar, raising her one eyebrow and pointedly asking: “So what are you supposed to be?”

Rather than running across the room screaming, “Damn you, costume-sugar industrial complex!,” here are some retorts you can use to trick people into thinking your regular clothes are actually a Halloween costume. When someone asks what you’re dressed up as, you can say:

  1. I’m a conscientious objector
  2. I’m the bass player from [insert pretentious sounding, fake band name here]
  3. I’m an undercover cop
  4. I’m covering this for The Times [scribble notes furiously]
  5. I’m a fashion blogger [take picture of them with iPhone, glare]
  6. I’m hungover
  7. I’m a secular humanist
  8. [Shout] This is what a feminist looks like!
  9. I’m normcore
  10. I’m #blessed/#flawless
  11. I’m sexy [insert your full name here, un-do top button, raise your two eyebrows back at sexy Frida]

And there you have it. Considering how many times you’ll probably have the opportunity to test all of our options, twice.

See More:

The Definitive History of Sexy Halloween Costumes

Inside the Weird World of Sexy Halloween Costumes for Dogs

TIME society

Hello Kitty at 40: Sexist Throwback or Empowering Icon?

Hello Kitty fans pose for photos in a giant tea cup at the Hello Kitty Con, the first-ever Hello Kitty fan convention, held at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Oct. 30, 2014, in Los Angeles Jae C. Hong—AP

In honor of Hello Kitty's 40th birthday celebration, Hello Kitty Con, we talked to experts and fans about her influence on women

This week, about 25,000 of the world’s most devoted Hello Kitty fans are expected to assemble in LA’s Little Tokyo district for the first-ever Hello Kitty Con–a four-day celebration of the character’s 40th birthday, going on now. Created by the Japanese company Sanrio, the little white cartoon has become one of the best-selling licensed entertainment characters ever, generating an estimated $8 billion annually for Sanrio, according to a company spokesperson.

The event, which started October 30 and runs through November 2, has been a long time coming for her most fervent acolytes—adult women who played with her as children in the 70s and 80s and still incorporate her into their daily lives. The sold-out event has acres of adorableness–from Kitty costumed fans to crystal jewelry and even historic artifacts like the very first product to feature the character –a coin purse from 1974, which is on display behind velvet ropes.

Despite her seemingly benign and utterly adorable appearance, the character has become a polarizing cult figure around the world. Fans who collect everything Hello Kitty say she’s empowering, or at the very least a harmless hobby. Critics say she’s a sexist throwback to a time when girls, particularly Asian girls, were supposed to be cute and silent (the character has no mouth). Meanwhile, in some feminist circles, she’s also been embraced as a counterintuitive symbol of freedom to be feminine and strong. And to further muddy the picture, Sanrio recently clarified that the character is actually a third-grade girl and not a cat. A 40-year-old girl who looks just like a cat that is.

To get to the bottom of the Hello Kitty phenomenon, we asked experts and female fans to reflect on Hello Kitty “the girl” and the outsized influence she’s had on the culture over the last 40 years.

The first question is of course, why doesn’t she have a mouth. She’s all eyes. Sanrio has always said Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth so people can project their feelings onto her, imagine she’s happy or sad when they’re happy or sad. “She is so empowering because she can be anything you want her to be,” says Jill Koch, Senior Vice President of Brand Management & Marketing at Sanrio. “It’s a lot more powerful to not have to speak.” That way, “women feel like Hello Kitty listens,” says Yuko Yamaguchi, Tokyo-based head designer of Hello Kitty for more than 30 years. “She makes you feel understood.”

Jamie Rivadeneira, owner of Japan LA, a boutique that sells Japanese pop culture merchandise, explains why she has captured the imagination of so many little girls for so many years: “I was naturally quiet as a child, and I related to Kitty because she didn’t talk. She doesn’t have a mouth.”

Hello Kitty’s lack of mouth may also just reflect the Japanese way of showing emotion, which doesn’t always involve expressing feelings using words, according to Christine Yano, anthropology professor at the University of Hawaii, who curated the Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in LA with Rivadeneira. In some ways, Hello Kitty has become the international representation of Japan’s culture of “kawaii,” which are items that are cute and meant spread happiness and promote friendship. The little cat-like girl has become a touchstone for many Asian girls who’ve grown up in America. “She was made by an Asian company, so unlike Barbie, it was cool to have this Asian cartoon that’s ours,” says Kristina Wong, 36, a Chinese-American writer and comedian. “The first people to get Hello Kitty stuff were Asian girls.”

But not everyone’s a fan. “In the West, having a mouth is important because it gives you a voice, which is power, so some see her as anti-feminist, anti-assertive, anti-vocal,” explains Yano, author of Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek across the Pacific. And indeed, the quiet Kitty has gotten a lot of flack on some Western parenting blogs. One mother writes, “Parents raise their daughters to be confident, articulate and outspoken,” so Hello Kitty’s lack of mouth sends girls “mixed messages about self-esteem,” while another writes, “It’s hard to shout, ‘I am woman, hear me roar,’ sans mouth,” after her three-year-old daughter fell in love with the character.

Likewise, a 2004 editorial in The Japan Times, an English-language Japanese newspaper, argued UNICEF shouldn’t be using Hello Kitty to raise money for girls education programs noting that “someone needs to explain how a cat with no mouth can be a spokesperson for anything—especially girls’ education—and how an image that embodies female submissiveness is supposed to help banish gender-based stereotypes. Kitty is soft and pliable, doesn’t speak and sports a cute bow on her head: There’s your role model, girls!”

She has also gotten flack when she’s been seen as a symbol of the quiet, passive and submissive Asian woman stereotype. Take Avril Lavigne’s 2014 music video for “Hello Kitty,” which critics bashed because she used expressionless Japanese women as back-up dancers, who looked like “props,” as she screamed “Hello Kitty, you’re so pretty” over and over again.

“Avril does not relate to, look at, talk to, the Japanese women in the video,” says Sharon Kinsella, author of Schoolgirls, Money and Rebellion in Japan. “I find the presentation of the Japanese women as asexual and silent background dancers with mute inscrutable expressions embarrassingly passé and disturbingly colonial in undertone.”

Meanwhile feminist blogs railed against a 2012 ad for Sephora’s Hello Kitty “Head of the Class” makeup collection that shows a woman in business attire putting down her book, erasing math equations on a chalkboard and applying Hello Kitty makeup, arguing the brands are teaching girls that looking beautiful is more important than smarts. “The feminists’ argument is a perception that women might be infantilized by this cute product that doesn’t speak to their full powerful womanhood or their sexuality,” says Merry White, anthropology professor at Boston University and author of Coffee Life in Japan.

The Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s adopted Hello Kitty as a mascot to show punk girls and women that it’s OK to incorporate cute things into their edgy personas, says Yano. The idea was—and it still applies today—feminists believe in freedom of self-expression, so women can enjoy “cutesy” and “girly” things like Hello Kitty whenever and however they want to, as long as they aren’t doing it because they think they need to in order to be considered feminine or to please men, explains performance artist and writer Denise Uyehara, 48. “You can be cute, but you have to ask yourself, am I being cute because it’s the only way I can get through life, or can I speak my mind directly without using a high cute voice, which is often associated with Hello Kitty and being Asian?”

Kinsella has a theory about Hello Kitty’s popularity at a time when Japanese women were distancing themselves from those old stereotypes. Even as women in Tokyo in the 80s started shifting from primarily family roles to office jobs with higher wages during a “period of unprecedented credit boom wealth” in the city, they were still in an “awkward” position in which the social structure was “hostile” to young, working, independent women. “So liking Hello Kitty, being a bit childish, is a bit like acting like the kind of girl who is acceptable—a little school girl with nice, girly pastimes,” she argues. “They’re suger-coating their obtrusive new presence in the labor market by covering themselves in pink and candy and Hello Kitty, disguising themselves as harmless.”

And for American fans, she’s also an escape from the realities of adulthood. Jennifer Masaoy, 35, says she started making papercrafts of Hello Kitty as a hobby to cheer herself up at a “stifling, repetitive, boring, miserable” job: “Hello Kitty is a way for me to escape work stress, all of the stuff you have to do as an adult to take care of yourself.”

So will this 40-year-old school girl ever get to grow up? Writer and comedian Kristina Wong says she hopes so: “Let’s see Hello Kitty at her first job when she has to go on maternity leave. That’s when we’re going to find out whether she’s a feminist or not a feminist. Let’s put her in real situations because cuteness will only get you so far, and there are some moments in life when you actually have to kick some a**.”

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