Why are celebrities wearing sunflowers for Ukraine? A symbol of support and resistance

US first lady Jill Biden and ‘Outlander’ actress Caitriona Balfe have both publicly worn or carried the national flower of Ukraine to show solidarity

The US first lady Jill Biden, left, wears a dress embroidered with a sunflower, while Irish actress Caitriona Balfe carries a sunflower in her bag. Photo: Reuters, Aaron Burden / Unsplash, AP
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The sunflower has emerged as an emblem of support for Ukraine amid the ongoing conflict with Russia, with celebrities and protesters wearing or carrying the flower as a way to draw attention to the plight of Ukrainians.

The US first lady, Jill Biden, has worn sunflowers embroidered on her clothes twice this week, in a powerful statement about her country's solidarity with Ukraine.

On Monday, Biden, 70, wore a white face mask with an embroidered sunflower to a White House event celebrating Black History Month.

White House officials later clarified that Biden wore the mask to show support for the people of Ukraine.

Biden once again showed her support at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address given by her husband, US President Joe Biden. She wore a blue satin dress by US designer Sally LaPointe which, while paying homage to the US flag, also featured an embroidered sunflower on the wrist.

Sunflowers on the red carpet

Biden has been joined by Outlander actress Caitriona Balfe in showing her support for Ukraine.

The Irish actress made an appearance on the red carpet at the 2022 Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards in Los Angeles last week, carrying a sunflower in a black bag.

Balfe, 42, was joined by her Belfast co-stars Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds and Jude Hill to honour Belfast writer-director Kenneth Brannagh, who is being tipped for an Oscar.

It looks likely that sunflowers worn as badges or pins will become more visible during the remainder of awards season as Hollywood helps draw attention to the plight of the Ukrainian people.

Viral video turns the sunflower into a symbol of resistance

The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine, and has emerged as a symbol of support and resistance. Social media posts featuring the sunflower emoji have recently become prolific across all platforms.

The sunflower as a symbol of resistance came to wider public attention last week, when a video of a Ukrainian woman confronting a Russian soldier went viral on social media.

In the video, the unidentified woman faces a Russian soldier and tells him to put sunflower seeds in his pockets.

“Why did you come with [a] weapon to us?” she asks him. “Take [the] seeds so the sunflowers would grow when you will [die] here.”

The soldier then tells the woman: “This conversation won't lead to anything, let's not make the situation worse.”

Protesters around the world, most recently in Canada, have adorned their placards and banners with sunflowers, and worn sunflower headdresses.

Protests in support of Ukraine across Europe - in pictures

Updated: March 02, 2022, 8:50 AM