'Keep Calm and Carry On' is clichéd. It's also missing two-thirds of the original message.

If you’ve ever been anywhere near a college dorm room, you’ve seen the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

The saying does have real historical context rooted in WWII Britain, but it’s better known for the period of time in the mid-2000s when it became a near-ubiquitous decorative staple.


Everywhere you went, the bold crimson and sans-serif lettering could be found taped up on walls, printed on mugs, tucked away in planners, hanging on keychains, slapped on bumper stickers — quickly followed by variations on theme, which became arguably more popular than the original.

This boom in commercial popularity quickly erased all of its original meaning and turned “Keep Calm and Carry On” into nothing more than a trite cliché.

Photo by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images.

But “Keep Calm and Carry On” wasn't originally designed to be a novelty. It was actually an urgent plea — one of three slogans the British government released to rally the spirits of the people against the threat of Naziism during World War II.

Just before the outbreak of the war, the British government was in the midst of developing something they called “home publicity.” Up against the threat of Nazi forces, who famously garnered much of their support through propaganda, it was imperative the British government make efforts to unite the national community under the common goal of victory.

The publicity committee ultimately distilled their message into a poster campaign consisting of three simple slogans:

The attitude the government aimed to encourage — one of resiliency and strength — relied on all three parts of the message, not just the one we're most familiar with today.

While “Keep Calm and Carry On” by itself does communicate a certain measure of resoluteness, it can also easily become a message that encourages complacency. It's only when taken together with the other two parts of the campaign that we're able to understand the tough fighting spirit the British sought to promote.

During the war, two of the three slogans could be found printed all across the U.K. Photo by H.F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

Funny enough, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was the only poster of the three the government never actually published.

There are conflicting ideas as to why “Keep Calm and Carry On” was never released to the public. One such report says it was decided the phrase was too condescending or too obvious. Another theory is that while the campaign itself was designed for the war, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was a survivalist message reserved for only the direst of circumstances: a German ground invasion in Britain. Since that never happened, the message was never released.

In 2017, let’s take a page out of Britain’s book and make sure all three of these posters are the ones that define our outlook.

Everyone is talking about how much 2016 sucked, but realistically, the number on the calendar had nothing to do with it. And the number on the calendar once the ball drops on New Year's isn't going to magically make all of the terrible things that happened this year go away. If we approach 2017 intending to just "Keep Calm and Carry On," there won't be anything standing in the way of next year turning out exactly the same way.

That's why we need those missing two-thirds of this message — because they remind us that a world we're proud of is one we need to work for. And your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution — your willingness to defend freedom and justice with all your might — these are the things that could bring us a brighter year ahead.

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

SK-II

"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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