#35 Peace Sign

Posted March 15th, 2008 by Peter · 3 Comments

You know you’ve seen it, and you know you’ve wondered why asian people use it so often. All asians: Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and (Insert Asian Ethnicity)-ese have utilized this sign in pictures from the time of the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics, where an embarrassed Janet Lynn raised it up in victory after falling on her rump. This phenomenon, from that moment, spread faster than a Windows Vista virus because the Japanese Media plastered it on every poster and television advertisement. (Before that, Americans used it to signal “V” -ictory during WWII, but the Japanese seldom used it as a peace sign.)

“So what is this mysterious V-sign? Is it truly the universal sign for “peace”? A secret sign adopted by a global underground Asian cult who’s mission is to become the next super-race? Or perhaps an ancient math puzzle developed by the monks of the Shaolin Temple?” -FOBSPOT

The truth lies in asian culture, where people are notably shy and outspoken. They have no other means of expressing their happiness, other than a smile, because everyone knows even an asian smile can be mistaken for their chinky eye lining. To show that they are indeed happy, asians outline their grinning chins with a “V” sign to draw attention away from their non-existant eyes. They also wouldn’t ever want to yell something while taking a picture because it would draw more attention to them. However, Asians are always stoked when a photo opp arises. In these situations, asians, instead of using America’s ludicrously awkward phrase, “Cheese,” will use the peace sign to show that they are indeed present in the photograph. By present, I mean enthusiastic and excited about being in someone else’s life story. This is due in part to the Asian love for emotional-understanding and inciting reactions (later post).

That’s why Stuff Asian People Like’s Peter Nguyen went straight to the source this Saturday (China Town) to find out the truth about the Peace Sign. Though many refused to answer (or simply didn’t know how to), there were a myriad of explanations. One such responder, who’s face lit up with joy when asked, was very accommodating and said that the peace sign was ubiquitous with “Being Number One, Victory,” or in Japan, “Ichiban!” She proceeded to demonstrate various positions in which the sign would mean different things. The funny thing is that she was making hamster noises in every which position to emphasize the importance of placement. For example, a “V” sign in front of the face means that the asian is very egotistical and wants to draw the most attention possible to themselves. However, a lower-third peace sign around the abdomen region means that they are more reserved, and don’t want to overshadow others in the picture. Side-ways in front of the eyes is most definitely an older asian’s 80’s statement.


The previous explanation was extremely thorough, but one little feline has most spurred on the globalization of the peace sign: Hello Kitty. Not just Hello Kitty, but all her Sanrio friends, anime/manga series, and commercial television have made the peace sign popular among school girls and in some cases, boys. (Batz Maru, Pochocco, and Pekkle are not female characters). Even though the fingers are non-existent in some cases, this pose has caused a revolution in which children think it’s necessary to raise peace signs to look cute and innocent. The sign lives on today as the residual of a more innocent time in which kids didn’t grow up with computers and instead drew pictures of their favorite cartoon characters.

It started out as a victory and peace statement. It later became a way for an olympian to divert attention from herself (by using a local gesture) after suffering an extremely embarrassing fall. It rode the immigrant train into the Americas, where asian people have diversified it and turned it into a cultural phenomenon. The Peace Sign is definitely something that Asians like because it’s one of the first global habits that is purely “asian.”

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