From Victory to Love

Pictures nowadays go beyond smiling for the camera. From pulling ridiculous faces to momentary trendy poses, some are almost considered timeless, and became the go to on this side of the world.

In my opinion, Chinese are not particularly famed for creativity, which can be explained by a group photo—just count how many people pull out the peace sign in front of a camera. Indeed, the Chinese so-called “scissor hand” gesture for photos has been unconditionally prevalent throughout the country for decades, regardless of circumstance. It works for all classes of people.

Sometimes small variations are adopted, such as the back-hand version—palm towards the signer—or placing in various positions like your forehead, your chin, your eyes to resemble a rabbit, a cat or just to be cute. Of course for the jokers out there, a scissor hand can sneak-up behind a person’s head without his or her awareness in a group photo, most likely given by an invisible arm from the next person.

When most Westerners think of this gesture, it mainly means “V for victory” or “V for peace,” dating back to World War II. It’s rare for Chinese to care about these heavy topics enough to make the sign. If you ask a person who makes a scissor hand the meaning of it, you will get an answer like “because I’m happy,” “because it’s cute” or “it means ‘yeah!’.”

Westerners are starting to pick-up on the same habit, and the original meaning is becoming lost.

They are not entirely wrong. The double-handed peace photo craze became very popular in Japan in the 1980s and quickly caught on in Asia.

It looks remarkably similar to the gesture of asking for money

Though it originated from the west, the Japanese changed the meaning. No longer representing just world peace, it expressed a happy and comfortable feeling. Plus, young girls thought it was the cute trendy thing to do. The trend continued all the way to the beginning of the 21st century, which was when China began to follow Japanese pop-culture closely. China was not the only country this trend spread to; Korea shared the same fate. So, if you were watching Chinese, Japanese or Korean TV shows, you would see your idol doing the sign.

This also explains why the sign is heavily used among the post-1980 and 1990 generations. They obviously formed a habit or an automatic body reaction to a camera, but they wanted to change, and it required quite some will power. Fortunately, for the post-2000 generation, they aren’t so fond of it and consider it an old-fashion symbol, just like WeChat, which is only used by old people like their parents.

It is obvious the golden age of the scissor hands has gone. Nowadays, it is a new hand gesture called “bixin” or “finger heart,” which shows love and joy, has quickly risen from all walks of life. There are several versions of it. One is using two hands to form the shape of a heart; another one can be applied by two or more people taking the shape of a heart with both of their arms. But a simpler and more popular one goes like this: the thumb and index finger form an X (supposed to be a heart shape) while other fingers are in a fist.

The symbol is credited to South Korean actress Kim Hye-soo in 2010, and her influence made it quickly gain popularity throughout Asia.

It looks remarkably similar to the gesture of asking for money if you ask me. The only difference is the thumb and index finger are not rubbed together for “bixin.” Therefore, be careful if you want to keep up with the trend. You don’t want to end up asking for money (or maybe you do).