Taylor Swift does it, Justin Bieber does it, even Sharon Osborne does it!
Heart Hands, or Hand Hearts have become so popular within the past couple years, but does anyone really know the origin of this unique hand symbol? I was searching high and low for the answer and my findings were non-conclusive. Many of the sites bounced me back to the same 2011 New York Times article which gives credit to Taylor Swift for popularizing its use, whereas other sites claimed outright that Taylor Swift may have invented it.
Well, according to The New York Times article, (see full article below), singer/songwriter, Taylor Swift started using this during her high school days, for pictures and out of car windows, before she was a singing superstar.
But, I personally know of one instance where this simple hand symbol was captured in a photograph way back in 1967 (or there abouts) which predates Swifts use of the symbol by a whopping 40 years! As a matter of fact, Taylor Swift wasn’t even born until 1989, so I know for sure, she didn’t invent it.
The photograph I’m speaking of, was of my younger sister who at the time, was about 8 years old. She was posing with my mother and older sister. I ran across this photograph several months ago and noticed the “heart hands” and thought it would make an interesting topic given todays extensive use of the symbol.
When Two Thumbs Down Are a Sign of Approval
By MARISA MELTZER
The New York Times
Published: August 9, 2011
HAND gestures can be vulgar, but recently a demure, loving one has risen to popularity. To make it, curl the index fingers on both hands with the thumbs pointing down and join them to make a heart shape. Two people can make it together: a human version of those best-friends-forever lockets that break apart to be shared.
The “hand heart,” as it is known, has been flashed by young stars galore, including Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Victoria Justice, Blake Lively, Jordin Sparks and an “American Idol” contestant vying for votes.
Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Steven Tyler, Jennie Garth, Wynonna Judd, Channing Tatum, Usher, Kylie Minogue and Janet Jackson have all been photographed making the gesture.
Advertisers have taken note: it has appeared in campaigns for LensCrafters and the clothing line Miss Me. A hand heart with the top fingers splayed apart like wings, however, was removed from a Virginia tourism ad after revelations that it was a symbol of the Gangster Disciples.
An intact hand heart is displayed during the credits of the reality show “Ice Loves Coco” and described (“you held you hands up / and they formed a heart in the air”) in a song, “I Corinthians 13:8-10,” by the indie rock band the Mountain Goats.
The hand heart is popular in the rave scene where tiggerlovesyou.com chronicles young people enthusiastically hand-hearting. Armin van Buuren, the popular Dutch D.J., has been known to do it during his live sets.
“The heart-hand symbol means something between ‘I love you’ and ‘thank you,’ ” the country singer Taylor Swift said in an e-mail from her “Speak Now” tour. “It’s just a sweet, simple message that you can deliver without saying a word.” She added that she started doing it in pictures and out car windows during high school.
“At the end of my sophomore year, I left school and went out on a radio tour to play free show after free show,” Ms. Swift wrote. “I was an unknown act playing shows night after night, and I was constantly trying out all kinds of different moves to try and get a response from the audience.”
One day during a festival, she said, she was in the middle of a song and decided to put her hands above her head in the heart shape. The crowd started doing it back and cheering.
The singer’s fans feel so proprietary about the gesture that a debate erupted on an online fan discussion board when Lady Gaga made the hand heart.
A commenter going by the moniker Longlivetaylor wrote that it was “like a code word almost, special to us swifties and now everyone is going to start doing so it won’t feel special anymore.”
But will it become as universally recognizable as, say, the peace sign? Patti Wood, a media coach and the author of “Success Signals: Understanding Body Language,” called the hand heart a “trendy thing,” likening it to when in years past celebrities like Goldie Hawn would make the hands-in-prayer namaste gesture.
“One performer or audience probably did it in an extraordinary performance,” Ms. Wood said. “It used to take longer for nonverbal culture to move. But now, with smartphones, it’s instant.”
Regardless of its possible ephemerality, Ms. Swift still feels the power of the hand heart.
“When the moment is just right and the crowd is screaming louder than any sound I ever imagined I’d hear,” she wrote. “I just want to tell them I love them over and over, but sometimes the simplest thing to do is to make a sign with your hands.”