Skinheads are members of a subculture that originated among working class youths in the United Kingdom in the 60’s, and then spread to other parts of the world. The term skinhead comes from their close-cropped or shaven heads.
The first skinheads were influenced by West Indian (specifically Jamaican) rude boys and British mods, in terms of fashion, music and lifestyle. Thus the original skinhead subculture was based on those elements, not politics and race.
In time, however, things have changed and attitude towards race and politics have become factors by which more and more skinhead gangs form themselves.
Though there are two kinds of skinheads, racist and non-racist, most people are unaware that most skinheads you will ever see are actually a part of the non-racist fraction. The image of the Non-Racist Skinheads was pretty much irreparably busted when the National Front in England started to enlist the more rowdy of the skinheads and the ones that were latently racist.
Skinheads are visually identified by their short hair and unique clothing styles. Fashion-wise, skinheads range from a clean-cut 1960s mod-influenced style to less-strict punk- and hardcore-influenced styles.
Tattoos on the other hand have been popular in the skinhead subculture since at least the 1970s revival. In 1980s Britain, dedicated skinheads had tattoos on their faces and foreheads, today this practice is not so popular and is mostly observed only with the incarcerated members of this culture.
The tattoos sported depend on the skinhead. The apolitical and non-racist skinheads tend to have tattoos that involve certain symbols common to the scene, like a laurel wreath that comes from the Fred Perry logo,national flags, anti-racist logos and drawings, Doc Marten-style boots, skinhead girls, brass knuckles, the logo for the Trojan record label, or the popular crucified skinhead. The crucified skinhead is symbolizing the damage done by the media pushing the idea of skins as racist thugs. But also, skins will get whatever appeals to them as individuals. Band logos, their children’s names, sacred hearts, hotrods, pin-ups and so on.
A significant part of racist skinhead subculture is their dress and appearance. Racist skinheads typically shave their heads, much less common practice with the skinhead girls. Often wearing skinhead-related garb such as suspenders and work boots, symbolizing their working class inheritance.
They also tattoo themselves heavily with white supremacy and Nazi symbols. Some of the more popular skinhead tattoo designs are:
- SS lightning bolts,
- The Odin rune,
- The Odin cross: this symbol has been used mostly by the KKK and Skinheads,
- The Sun rune also known as Sol: often worn by Skinheads as an elbow web tattoo,
- Crucified skinhead: symbolize the crucifixion of the working class,
- The White Power Fist and the “Skin” Fist: symbolizes skinhead aggression,
- Triskele: used to state white supremacy, association with the swastika and Nazi Germany,
- 14/88: 14 stands for the “14 words” slogan(“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”) and 88 means “Heil Hitler,” as H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.
- Swastika: a very popular design with the Neo-Nazi.
- Group or movement, logos and titles.