TIME society

Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?

Katy Steinmetz for TIME

Editor’s Note:

TIME apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.

–Nancy Gibbs

If you hear that word one more time, you will definitely cringe. You may exhale pointedly. And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids. What word is this? You tell us.

For TIME’s fourth annual word banishment poll, we’re asking readers to vote another word off the island, following previous castoffs OMG, YOLO and twerk. Cast your vote, encourage your friends to share their curmudgeonly angst and we’ll announce the results next week on Nov. 19.

If you need help deciding (or a little background on the words), see our blurbs below the poll, in which we’ve channeled the type of person who would like to see each nominee launched into the deepest, darkest, most hopeless eternity from whence there is no salvation nor return.


bae: Yes, this term of endearment has been around for years, but suddenly it’s everywhere. You can’t turn around without encountering someone’s bae or some bae meal or some bae bae. The cool factor is being smothered. It’s time to start using something Chick-Fil-A managers have never heard of.

basic: You get it. Girls need a word for other girls who name-drop D-listers in their fake Louboutins, going around thinking they’re a Carrie, even though they’re really a Miranda — if Miranda had a less remarkable hair color and worked at TJ Maxx. But basic has become basic. Bad bitches can do better.

bossy: You are leaning in all over the place. If Sheryl wants a word banned, then we best get banning.

disrupt: Silicon Valley types may be changing sleepy industries, but this word is more worn out than startup names that sound and look like six-year-olds came up with them. You just might strangle the next “disrupt0r” you meet with his hoodie drawstrings.

feminist: You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.

I can’t even: … finish a sentence, apparently. Nobody is this speechless.

influencer: This kind of business jargon makes you want to pivot yourself into a gorge. Stop throwing trumped up labels on people with a bunch of Twitter followers or five friends who might sign up for something if they do.

kale: You haven’t been so tired of having a single thing talked about and trumpeted and pushed in your face since people started signing up for Twitter. You even saw kids selling dried kale chips on the street the other day instead of running a lemonade stand. Kale chips, people! This is America!

literally: You continue to hate it when people use literally to mean figuratively, even if the word just won’t be separated from that usage. The least you can do is cast a vote against everyone who has ever “literally” lost their mind, because they are metaphorically driving you bananas.

om nom nom nom: If people could stop posting pictures of their brunches like their fancy toast slices were newborn babies, then maybe you would be spared this overdone onomatopoeia. You get it. Food is delicious. Restaurants serve bacon. Moving on.

obvi: You hate this particular unnecessary, cloying word-shortening about as much as you hate perf, whatevs, adorbs, natch, totes and amaze (when used in place of amazing). If truncation is cool, then you’d like to buy a ticket to the hottest place on earth, please.

said no one ever: “A joke like this stays fresh no matter how many times you hear it,” said no one ever.

sorry not sorry: #sorrynotsorryyoureoverthisnonapology

turnt: Parents in Middle America may still be struggling to understand what this word means, but everybody else knows all too well — including writers at SNL, who portrayed the state of being turnt as a remedy to an unsatisfying sex life. It’s time for turnt to turn down.

yaaasssss: Nooooooooo mmooooorrrreeeeee. If only for poor Lady Gaga’s sake.

This is an edition of Wednesday Words, a feature on language. For the previous post, click here.

TIME society

Terminally Ill Simpsons Co-Creator Sam Simon to Donate His $100 Million Fortune to Charity

"All In For CP" No Limit Texas Hold 'em Poker Tournament Benefitting The One Step Closer Foundation
Television producer/writer Sam Simon arrives at the "All In For CP" Celebrity Charity Poker Tournament at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino on December 11, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. David Becker—Getty Images

Diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago, he's giving most of his money to animal-related causes

Back in 2012, Sam Simon — best known as one of the creators of The Simpsons — was told he had terminal colon cancer and only three to six months to live. Since then, he’s been preparing to give away his entire fortune to the causes that matter most to him.

In a recent interview with NBC News, Simon explained that most of these causes directly involve animals. He as worked closely, for example, with PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk.

“I think that my passion for the animals and against animal abuse is based on the knowledge that these creatures who feel and think can’t speak for themselves and they’re dependent on us for that,” he told interviewer Maria Shriver. “And so I feel it’s my responsibility to speak for those that can’t speak for themselves.”

The 59-year-old has put most of his money into the Sam Simon Foundation, which also works to feed families in need and provide service dogs for veterans.

Though Simon has struggled personally during his terminal diagnosis, he explains to Shriver that this is the happiest he’s ever been.

“Somehow, I ended up surrounded by people that love me and take care of me and will do anything for me,” he said. “It’s a good feeling. That’s called happiness.”

Read next: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Donates $25 Million to Fight Ebola

TIME world affairs

The Opportunity Germany Missed After the Wall Fell

A man celebrates on the Berlin wall on November 12, 1989 in Berlin, Germany.
A man celebrates on the Berlin wall on November 12, 1989 in Berlin, Germany. Pool CHUTE DU MUR BERLIN—Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Germany missed a big opportunity to redefine itself when the wall fell—and that omission is costing us all today

We didn’t know what to expect after the heady days of November 1989. What exactly would follow from the fall of the Berlin wall? Would this mean the end of communism? Would Germany reunite? And, if so, could the country ever truly overcome its divisions? Despite those open questions, all but the most obtuse observers had to know that this was a momentous event—one that would lead Europe, and especially Germany, to redefine itself.

Looking back in 2014, that process of redefinition has been both surprisingly successful and radically incomplete. East and West Germany have overcome their divisions better than most had dared to hope. But Germany missed a unique opportunity to rethink its identity and redefine its role in the world. Over the past years, it has become increasingly evident how heavy a price Germany—and its neighbors—may have to pay for this omission.

Reunification turned out to be less of a fusion between two parts of the country than a takeover: the governors in Bonn simply extended the West a few hundred kilometers to the East. In the process, West Germany gave the East what it had craved: its constitution, its currency, and its freedoms. Alongside those great achievements, West Germany also exported some lesser signs of its dominance. Within a few years of reunification, for example, the simple, old-fashioned and rather beautiful signs that had long announced station names in East Germany were quietly replaced by their bland, corporate equivalents in the West.

The unrelenting totality of these changes caused understandable resentment among some East Germans, who experienced their newfound freedom primarily as the shock of an unaccustomed insecurity. Their factories closed. Their jobs disappeared. When the German Democratic Republic vanished from the map, they lost a part of their identity. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ostalgie, nostalgia for the recent past, conquered the East. Some celebrated the once ubiquitous Trabbi cars, others pined over the closing of a beloved manufacturer of half-sour pickles. Harmless for the most part, Ostalgie at times also took a harder, more illiberal edge—as when leading East German politicians refused to acknowledge that the GDR had been a dictatorship, or street mobs gave violent voice to their hatred of immigrants.

At the time, the persistent cultural and political divide between East and West raised fears that Germany might remain a land forever divided. Today, that handwringing has itself come to look outdated. Germans from the former East are now represented at the top levels of the country’s most important institutions: boardrooms, the national soccer team, the Chancellorship. The country feels—and, thanks to those railway signs, looks—much the same on both sides of the erstwhile border. Sure, a range of social indicators, from religiosity to the number of infants in daycare, shows that East and West have not become mirror images.

Perhaps they never will. But it is, after all, not unusual for nation states to retain significant regional differences. Twenty-five years after the fall of the wall, it is clear that reunification has been a cultural success.

In fact, it is even starting to look as though the West’s policy of cultural standardization, which has long seemed so obtuse, may have contributed to this success. Homogenizing Germany not only alienated an older generation of East Germans; it also ensured that those who were born as citizens of a unified Germany no longer saw a salient distinction between East and West.

But while West Germany’s refusal to redefine itself after 1989 has proven an effective strategy for reunification, it also means that the country’s leaders passed up on an important opportunity to address the Federal Republic’s key failings. First, Germany has neglected to use reunification as an opportunity to redefine itself as a country of immigrants. While East Germans gained their new passports within less than a year of the fall of the wall, most of the immigrants from outside of Europe who had arrived in West Germany since the 1960s remained excluded from citizenship for another decade. Parts of the political class are finally catching up to the fact that Germany will need to integrate those who have their roots outside the country as well as those who rejoined it in 1989. But opposition to this new, more inclusive conception of the nation remains politically and emotionally powerful. The question of whether Germany—as well as the rest of Europe—can operate as truly multiethnic is key to the continent’s future.

Second, Germany has not embraced its responsibilities as a world leader. During the Cold War, West Germany enjoyed a long holiday from history: because of its geostrategic importance, it could outsource the protection of freedom and democracy to the United States.

The foreign policy elite of the new Germany has, so far, failed to realize that this holiday from history has now come to an end. The country’s leaders have been happy to impose their rules on the Eurozone, but not to lead the Eurozone out of crisis when those rules proved inadequate. They have become more willing to send the Bundeswehr on occasional peacekeeping missions, but they shirk from protecting allies in Central and Eastern European from Russia’s expansionism.

Finally, Germany has failed to realize that its new status as a global leader creates a need for far-reaching domestic reform to environmental policy and military spending. The country has long prided itself in its ecological conscience and its pacifist-ish approach to foreign policy.

But if Germany wants to avoid being servile to Russia’s whims for the foreseeable future, it needs to slaughter some of those sacred cows. German leaders will not dare provoke Putin so long as he can threaten the life of Germany’s pensioners simply by switching off the gas—a state of dependence that will only deepen if the country goes ahead with plans to shut off its nuclear power plants. Nor will Germany’s leaders be able to negotiate with Putin as equals so long as only a fraction of the Bundeswehr’s equipment is in working order.

Internally, Germany’s reunification has panned out better than most had dared to hope.

Today, the remaining differences between East and West are much smaller than could reasonably have been expected. That’s a great achievement. But as we look back to 1989 and reflect on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the degree of continuity in West Germany’s conception of itself is just as striking.

The changes that are afoot today are much less obvious than they were in 1989. But, though it may be more difficult to recognize now than it was twenty-five years ago, the need for the whole of Germany to redefine itself is just as urgent.

Yascha Mounk is a fellow at New America, where he writes about technological solutions to the political and environmental challenges of the 21st century. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME technology

Racially Diverse Emoji Are Finally Coming to Your iPhone

The first black Emoji will come June 2015

There are 59 different types of food Emoji, but the pictorial smartphone language has been severely lacking in other areas—specifically when it comes to racial diversity.

To address the continuous stream of poop emojis being flung its way for not providing a single black emoji, developer Unicode announced a range of new skin tones Tuesday that will be available in its Unicode Version 8.0 launch in June 2015.

Here is a sampling of the new color options:

The coding indicates that any Emoji can be portrayed with a different skin tone:

“People all over the world want to have emoji that reflect more human diversity, especially for skin tone,” the organization’s report reads. “The Unicode emoji characters for people and body parts are meant to be generic, yet following the precedents set by the original Japanese carrier images, they are often shown with a light skin tone instead of a more generic (inhuman) appearance, such as a yellow/orange color or a silhouette.”

Unicode Version 8.0 is adding 5 symbol modifier characters that provide for a range of skin tones for human emoji. These characters are based on the six tones of the Fitzpatrick scale, a recognized standard for dermatology (there are many examples of this scale online, such as FitzpatrickSkinType.pdf). The exact shades may vary between implementations.

This marks a significant improvement upon the racial stereotypes exhibited previously in the Emoji’s original language:

iPhone Screengrab

Read next: President Obama Is Reaching Out to Millennials About the Economy Using…Emoji

TIME society

The 17 Most Influential Mustaches of All Time

From Lanny McDonald to Salvador Dali, these mustaches were there when history was made

This Movember—the annual November-long happening in which men grow mustaches and raise money for men’s health causes—we celebrate mustaches throughout history. Why you ask? For thousands of years, mustaches have been present at pivotal historical moments. Lanny McDonald’s mustache became a hockey icon. Tom Selleck’s mustache defined sexy for a generation. The mustache’s influence on our culture, our history and thus our future is irrefutable.

It’s a bold claim to be sure but one from which we do not shy. These, gentle readers, are the most influential mustaches of all time.

TIME society

Ask a ‘Stache: The 12 Do’s and Don’ts of Growing a Mustache for Movember

Actor Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation, a respected "mustached American" Phillip Chin—Getty Images

For one month only you could look like Nick Offerman.

November marks “Movember,” the month-long charity event in which men will attempt to grow mustaches to look like President William Howard Taft, Burt Reynolds or Nick Offerman (also a “Movember” spokesman), while raising money for men’s health causes like testicular and prostate cancers.

To help out rookies who are trying to grow good ‘staches for these good causes, NewsFeed talked to a few experts:

  • Adam Paul Causgrove, 29, a grants administrator in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics and the President and Chairman of the American Mustache Institute, an interest group for “mustached Americans.” He sports a classic handlebar mustache with ends that curl upwards.
  • Patrick Fette, 27, the Louisville, Ky., resident, who has only had a mustache for two years, but was crowned the 2013 world champion in the “English Moustache” category (the ends stick straight out to the side) at the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, on Nov. 2, 2013.

    patrick-fette
    Patrick Fette at the National Beard and Moustache Championships in New Orleans on September 2013. Greg Anderson
  • Dana J. Quigley, 24, a Boston-area photographer who doesn’t participate in mustache competitions or belong to clubs, but has worn a ‘stache for almost a decade. Now he boasts what he calls a “bicycle mustache,” a spin on the handlebar style, in which the approximately four-inch ends are curled into two full loops to resemble bike tires.

Here are their tips for super ‘staches:

Causgrove, a proud handlebar mustache-wearer. Duerring Photography / Adam P. Causgrove

Do: Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow

Most people are not going to grow the kind of mustache that some of these experts have in only a month. For instance, it took Fette a year to grow his world champion 12-inch-long “English Moustache.” So be patient. Those who manage to grow one will probably end up with a Chevron, which covers the entire outline of the upper lip. In other words, you’re going to look like Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) from Parks and Recreation or private investigator Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) from Magnum P.I.

Do: Get a mustache comb

A couple weeks in, start using one because it “trains the mustache hair” to go off to the side, Causgrove says, so that your ‘stache looks more natural, and it will be easier to control it if and when you do begin the styling process.

Don’t: Use an electric razor

That’s an amateur mistake. To ensure a neat ‘stache, Chavez recommends keeping the bottom line of the upper lip neat, but some men lose control of the razor and end up going “a little overboard” with their clean-up: “A lot of times, if it’s early on in the month, they end up needing to start fresh.” Stick to scissors or a single-edge safety razor if you want to trim it.

Photographer Dana J. Quigley and his “bicycle mustache.” Dana J. Quigley Photography

Don’t: Use caustic face cleansers

Quigley says certain face washes, particularly the ones designed to treat acne, have bleached his mustache hairs. The products generally make it harder to wax and curl the ends of the ‘stache if you do start to style it.

Don’t: Touch your mustache

Actually, just keep your fingers off your face as much as possible (your mother was right). We know the upper-lip area is going to get itchy, but you don’t want to get bacteria in your pores, which can cause ingrown hairs and make mustaches look gross, Quigley points out.

Don’t: Touch someone else’s mustache

That’s “the worst,” so awkward. At least ask first! “You wouldn’t really go caress someone’s nose or tug on someone’s lip,” Quigley points out.

Do: Drink bourbon, eat rare steaks

Causgrove jokes that they help stimulate mustache hair growth, but that’s all part of achieving the lifestyle of “rugged masculinity” — or “moustachery,” as Urban Dictionary calls it — that the American Mustache Institute associates with mustaches. Take a page out of Fette’s book: watch Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit (1977), vow to drive a Pontiac Trans Am one day, and immerse yourself in American Civil War history, specifically pictures of the generals’ wild facial hair.

“Anyone who is wearing a mustache is basically putting across the middle of their face, ‘Here I am, I am a man,’” Causgrove says. Which leads to his next point . . .

Causgrove with his dog Oliver. Adam P. Causgrove

Don’t: Watch Sex in the City or wear flared pants

Again, the “rugged manliness” thing.

Do: Hang out with other mustache-wearers

Growing a mustache for the first time can feel “weird”, Fette admits, and people may think you look creepy, so he recommends finding a local organization of mustache-wearers for camaraderie and grooming tips.

Do: Wear a fake mustache

At American Mustache Institute events, reps hand out stick-on mustaches to people who have what Causgrove calls “BULD: Bare Upper Lip Disorder.” Sometimes the fake ‘stache can be “the push they always needed to go out and grow their own mustache.”

Don’t: Let haters get to you

If bullies give mustache-wearers a hard time on the street or at work this month, Causgrove says, “Look ‘em square in the eye and say ‘You’re welcome,’ no matter what. It doesn’t have to make sense.”

Or Chavez says just tell them you’re doing it for a charitable cause, and they’ll usually back off. After all, the mustache is an icebreaker; it’s supposed to start a conversation about men’s health.

Alex Chavez, barber at Blind Barber Shop in Los Angeles. Alex Maier

Do: Reap the benefits of being a mustachioed man

“One time I was at a yard sale, and somebody said, ‘That’s the best mustache I’ve ever seen! Would you like some free pants?’ So I got a pair of second-hand blue jeans,” Fette says. He also jokes that women are constantly begging to take photos with him, “It’s exhausting.”

Quigley has been relieved of parking tickets, jumped the line at restaurants, caught buses in the middle of stops, gotten a free $40 iPhone case, and landed photography assignments — all because people strike up conversations about his ‘stache.

Causgrove says when he sees mustache-wearers on the street, he gives them a high-five. “We’d like these new growers of mustaches to know that they’re growing their way into a community, that there’s a very ruggedly handsome lifestyle awaiting them long after Nov. 30.”

This article was originally published on November 5, 2013.

PHOTOS: A Book of Beards for a Cause

TIME society

Inside the First-Ever Hello Kitty Convention

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Sanrio character

Embrace your inner child, hug the Hello Kitty plush on your bed, and check out photos from the first-ever Hello Kitty Convention at The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles (Oct. 30 to Nov. 2). The highly anticipated event is pegged to the character’s 40th anniversary—her birthday is November 1!—and an exhibit on Hello Kitty at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), on display through April 26, 2015.

MORE: Hello Kitty Exhibit to Open in L.A.

WATCH: Avril Lavigne Tear Up Tokyo for “Hello Kitty” Video

MORE: Apparently Hello Kitty is a Human Girl, Not a Cat

TIME Body Image

Thousands of People Want Victoria’s Secret to Apologize for ‘Perfect Body’ Ad

But can it make a difference?

More than 16,000 people have signed a U.K. petition asking Victoria’s Secret to apologize for an “irresponsible,” “body-shaming” ad.

The lingerie company sparked outrage for a new campaign celebrating “The Perfect ‘Body.’” The ad copy is a riff on the brand’s “Body” lingerie line, but since the slogan hovers above the supermodels’ bodies, people say it sends the wrong message.

Dear Kate, an underwear company “made by women for women,” insists that the lingerie industry as a whole can and should do better. “As if women need a reminder of our society’s homogenous definition of beauty, the ad features ten models with almost identical body shapes,” its website reads. “The creators of the ad probably didn’t think twice about the message it is sending, and to us, it’s irresponsible marketing.”

Here is Dear Kate’s alternative:

But can the petition incite change? Petition writers Frances Black, Gabriella Kountourides and Laura Ferris note that “we have yet to hear a single word from Victoria’s Secret! It can’t be much longer until they listen up and realise that they have some apologising to do.”

Victoria’s Secret did not reply to TIME’s request for comment.

But the “Perfect Body” campaign is in line with past marketing efforts. Victoria Secret’s previous “Love Your Body” campaign (which also incited backlash) provides a stark contrast to companies like Dove’s take on promoting an ideal body image.

Some companies just prefer to promote “perfect bodies” rather than “real beauty.”

Read next: Why Teens Are Turning to Human Growth Hormones for the ‘Perfect’ Body

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 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)

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