Asians and photo gestures

My ex-girlfriend’s mother is Asian. Back when we were dating, I often noticed that whenever anyone in her mom’s family was photographed, he/she would hold up a hand level with his/her chest, extending the forefinger and middle fingers in a ‘V’ - as in “‘V’ for ‘victory.’” (Or maybe it resembles a peace gesture more. Don’t know if there’s any difference.)

Since then, I’ve seen other instances of Asian people making the same gesture when being photographed, most recently yesterday afternoon at my current girlfriend’s graduation (MBA- I’m so proud of her).

My question is: Why do they do that? Does it symbolize anything? Or is it just an Asian tradition, the origins of which have long been lost? My ex-girlfriend’s explanation at the time was “That’s just what they do.” Then again, she was a total … well, I won’t go into that here.

Incidentally, my ex-girlfriend’s mom came from Taiwan. I don’t know if that tradition is isolated to Taiwan specifically or not.

“I wept because I had no shoes, then I met a man with no feet. So I took his shoes” - Dave Barry

As far as I know, it’s the peace sign. I don’t really know the significance, but it’s just the peace sign, and it’s just what they do. Some of it’s carried on to the new generation. Just check out some anime cartoons and some videogames, you’ll see it around.

I’m ready to meet Him
‘Cause where I’m livin’ ain’t right
Black hate white
White hate black
It’s right back to the same fight…


I’m guessing it’s as trivial as the thumbs up sign.

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Holding up two fingers while being photographed is an ancient Asian tradition. Unfortunately its origins were lost in the mists of prehistory. Its meaning however is clear; the subject is asking you to make two prints so they can have one.

Its just the peace sign. Multitudes of Japanese children make the sign when being photographed.

The Asian version of the peace sign is a maladaption of the American “V” for victory which is usually placed directly behind and over the head of the subject by the person standing next to them. This practice can be traced back to The Civil War era, as Matthew Brady was constantly airbrushing the offending fingers off his daguerreotypes.

      • On the other hand(!), if you go into the little China section of a major city at two o’clock in the morning and start photographing people idling on the street, you will probably get other gestures. (See also, “Nunkachus” thread) - MC