The ’60s brought with it tie-dyed clothes, flower power, and the peace symbol. Along with the peace symbol came the peace sign, which is your hand and fingers formed into a ‘V’. You simply extend your pointer and middle finger and spread them apart in a ‘V’ and the rest of your other fingers clenched in a fist. This hand gesture actually predates the ’60s by a large margin, with an early recorded use of the 2-fingered salute back in 1330.
The “V” sign in some other countries is actually viewed as an insult or similar to what we call here in the United States as “the finger”. This is largely restricted to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
But here in the United States, the 2-fingered salute has always been a symbol of peace.
If you have ever had the opportunity to visit Japan or seen photographs of Japanese women posing for the camera, you may have seen them flashing the peace sign with their hand or in many cases, both hands.
It is claimed that during the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, American figure skater Janet Lynn fell during a free-skate period but continued to smile even as she sat on the ice. Though she placed only third in the competition, her cheerful diligence resonated with many Japanese viewers, making her an overnight celebrity in Japan. Afterwards, Lynn (a peace activist) was repeatedly seen flashing the peace sign in the Japanese media. Though the peace sign was known of in Japan prior to Lynn’s use of it there (from the post-WWII Allied occupation of Japan), she is credited by some Japanese for having popularized its use in amateur photographs. According to another theory, the peace sign was popularized by the actor and singer Jun Inoue, who showed it in a Konica photo camera commercial in 1972.
More details can be found at wikipedia.com: