Following on the heels of their older brothers and sisters, the Mods (See:
What is a Mod?), in the 1960’s British working class youths adopted a
shorter hair style and a more serious attitude towards life and play.

The Skinheads tended towards physical labour and veered away from the
overly flamboyant Mod style of dress as spoken of in the Kinks’ song
“Dedicated Follower of Fashion”. The shaved head and steel toed boots has
been said to have originated amongst dock workers who required the safety
of the steel toes and who shaved their heads as a precaution against head

It is the Skinheads predeliction towards manual labour rather than more
intellectual pursuits which has lead to the characterization of Skinheads
as being “unintelligent”, “Cro-Magnons”, “cannon-fodder for the military”
and other more or less polite references. This stereotype is just as
abhorent as any other stereotype that ‘rights’ activists campaign against
and it is a perfect example of the hypocrisy of these same activists that
they are the ones who perpetuate it the most. (See: Skinheads in the

After a hard days work the original Skinheads tended to dress in their most
respectable clothing and congregate at the mostly Jamaican run dancehalls
where they mingled with the West Indian community (See: What is a Rudy?),
many of whose members would be their workmates from the docks, and adopted
Ska as the musical sound of choice.

Other staples of the Skinhead culture are a love of generous quantities of
beer and soccer. (See: What is the best dark beer?)

The early Skins were not necessarily a racist bunch, as shown by the
melding of the two cultures and the existence of numerous West Indian
Skins. With the continued immigration from Pakistan things changed and a
number of Skinheads, both black and white who felt that their jobs were
being threatened turned against the Pakistani community while others
continued to enjoy the fine curries and other Indian/Pakistani foods.

The high point of the original Skins, sometimes identified as Trojan Skins
was the Summer of ’69. The passage of time saw many Skins settling down,
growing their hair out, and starting families with their girlfriends (See:
What is a Chelsea?)

The mid and late 1970’s witnessed a resurgence of the Skinhead culture with
a violent turn as teens adopted the Skinhead look and took their love of
soccer to a fanatical point. These “Football Hooligans” were devoted to
their chosen Football (Soccer to the rest of the world) teams and would
engage in physical confrontations with the supporters of opposing teams.
Often enough innocent bystanders ended up taking the brunt of the

During this time the British Nazi Party and other minor racist
organizations began recruiting their followers from the ranks of these
football thugs and skinhead poseurs and thus the Boneheads came into being.

(Gerrard A. Lindsay) writes:

uh….skinhead is more than fashion sense and musical taste, but it
definitely requires the two. aside from working class pride and
self-respect the skinhead cult is still just that, a youth cult.

i know plenty of guys who are proud working class joes who are not by
any definition skinheads. i know tons of cool people in construction
boots and baggy pants who are not skinheads.

this isn’t even really directed at you, i’m just seeing lots of people
using the ‘it’s not just a fashion’ or ‘it’s not just music’ thing to
excuse the fact that they are not really skinheads. if you don’t dress
like a skinhead and don’t like at least some of the music (and that
don’t mean hc), yer not one.

Richard Collins writes:

Being a skinhead is alot in your heart. I mean the fashion is all part
of it but you have to have the belief as well. Some kids can dress the
part but not have the heart, sorry for that rhyme. But I have friends
that have grown out there hair because of jobs or whatever, I know
guys that are too old to bother with alot of the BS around the scene.
They still dress in a manner condusive (sp) to the skinhead fashion.
For years I just had short hair. Never bald, only as short as a number
two. People didn’t even know I was a skin. Skins knew, punks knew,
mods and other people that are familair with the subculture knew. You
don’t have to show the world what you are about unless you feel that
it is necessary.

Hey you don’t gotta claim anything unless you are in a crew. I mean if
you are a proud working class kid who knows your roots and believes in
yourself you are just as much a skin as the next man. It’s not all
about what you wear or how close you shave the scalp. If I grew out my
hair again I’m no less of a skinhead. Some people look shitty bald, do
the world a favor leave your crew cut if you have a funky head. I mean
just look at all those bald head NBA players, half of those guys need
to grow it back. Skinhead is more than a fashion statement, it’s a way
of life.

Apparent White Supremist MARKW691 wrote:

Being a SKINHEAD is not about being violent and hating everyone but
about perserving a race and nation. Hate is a word commonly associated
with SKINHEADs but it’s not about hate. We are called hate mongers and
bigoted bastards because we want to keep our bloodline clean. IN a
world of impurity we struggle to purify. SKINHEAD means self-sacrifice
and oppression by those who view our cause as unjust. To be called a
racist is not a put down for the actual definition of a racist is
person who supports and promotes their race. This means that if you
have any pride in your ethnical background you are a racist. SKINHEADs
do not roam the streets looking for a fight but work as lawyers
doctors and prominent business men. So don’t be fooled by media
brainwashing we are not out looking for a fight. Although things can
turn violent, we do not tolerate anyone trying to desicrate our race
by race trading, homosexual marriages, and anti-white believers.
People hate us because we are proud. Pride by other races is
encouraged and so is race preservation by any others so long as it
does not interfere with our beliefs. Now I ask you this do you deem it
fair for a person to be hated because they have pride and want to keep
something in this God forsaken world clean?

Stephen Martin wrote:

And, his historical revisioning aside, he actually seems to have a
clue. To build upon what meager truths he’s presented:

Hate is a word commonly associated with SKINHEADs but it’s not about
hate. Being a SKINHEAD is not about being violent and hating everyone
but about just plain living and enjoying life (Beer, Chelseas and Ska
anyone?). We are called hate mongers and bigoted bastards by those who
are as ignorant as they claim us to be.

SKINHEADs do not roam the streets looking for a fight but work as
tradesmen, shopkeepers, and even [sinking as low as] lawyers. Don’t be
fooled by media brainwashing. We are not out looking for a fight.
Things can turn violent but we do not tolerate anyone trying to attack
us and will defend ourselves.

People hate us because we are proud, we have respect and honour for
ourselves, and for the people who deserve it (remembering when our
institutions were something to be proud of, when there was more
civilization around us), and they often mistake this pride for hatred
of anything that is *non-skinhead*.

We really just don’t care. We, as individuals, are proud to be who we
are, and if someone else is proud of who they are, why should it be a

I ask you this, do you deem it fair for a person to be hated because
they have pride in themselves and want to keep something in this God
forsaken world clean? Does it make sense to you to assume that if a
person is proud to be a Fireman they don’t have equal respect for the
Police or Ambulance Attendants, Construction Workers, etc.? Is it
really any different than assuming that anyone who is proud of their
sub)culture has nothing but disdain and hatred for other

Think about it.

Graham writes:

Michael Bennett wrote:


This is where are you wrong. While it is true that outright racist
skinheads are not “original” skinheads in the real sense, there were are
those skinheads who hold racist ideals. Whether you or anyone else doesn’t
like it – in terms of political opinion, there is no such thing as a set
political stance that provides the “real” definition as to what a “true”
skinhead is or was.

Just like there are non-skinheads who are racist and anti-racist, equally
there are skinheads who hold racist and anti-racist beliefs. If anything
precludes someone from being a “real” skinhead it is someone who becomes
skin believing that “real” skins are either specifically racist or
anti-racist (bonhead or sharp).

Most skins I know- and it works in both directions- can respect, although
they may not agree with a skinhead who is a bonehead or a skinhead who is
sharp. Someone who is skin first, politics second (whether it be left or
right) most skins can accept.

There is an important distinction between a skinhead who is a bonehead and
a bonhead skinhead in the same way there is a distinction between a skin
who is sharp and a sharp skinhead.

The defining factor is which comes first – skinhead or politics?

If someone allows their politics (left or right) to be the defining factor
as to whether they are a skinhead, then that person is a wannabe – using
skin image and culture for their own purely personal ends. Either they are
using the way society labels skins either to reinforce the sterotype that a
skin is only a skin to be racist (putting aside working class skin history,
culture and loyalty in the process) or (in the case of most modern sharps)
because they think it is really a bit of a laugh to go around challenging
the sterotype image (again skin history, culture and loyalty being put

It is true that some of the first skins were from Jamaca and they were
involved in crews with white English skins. Equally, however, some of the
first skins were involved in what was loosely called the “APL” (Anti-Paki
League) and it cannot be denied that both some West Indian and English
skins were involved in – to use the term of the time – “Paki bashing”.
These combined crews of English and Jamacans objected to what they saw as
the influx of alien cultures and beliefs to the UK which was damaging their
job prospects and (for want of a better word) personal values.

The organised racism where racists hijacked the skinhead image came about
during the late 60s and into the 70s and still exists.

Equally with sharp it came about during the 80s. It’s ideals were honest
and whether or not most skins accepted what it stood for it was respected.
However, in the 1990s it seems to have been hijacked. It now seems more
about a society for trendy stereotype challenging more than anything else.


In the early days most crews consisted of a cross-range of political /
cultural / nationalistic beliefs that included both racist and anti-racist
views. However, most were skinheads first and political second and hence
respected each other. I remember this being the case even during the mid /
late 80s. I can’t say that it is so obvious today. Primarily, I think this
comes down to the right wing becoming more extreme and the left wing
becoming more silly.

It is true what you say that with the first skins, colour was not the
defining factor as to whether someone would or would not be accepted. The
fact that Afro-Caribbean skins existed alongside and together with white
English skins proves that point. However, equally, it is true that racism
was there from the outset against certain foreign nationals and cultures,
as in the APL example above. With the original skins the racial issue was
not a case of all (as bonehead skins would have you believe) or a case of
nothing at all (as sharp skins would have you believe).

In reality it was there but aimed at specific groups, not non-white
English/British nationals per se.