Growing Up - Modern issue "Please Read"

Submitted to Growing Up
Uploaded 1 Feb 2011 — 7 favorites
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© Andrew McNulty
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

I wanted this photo to serve as an experiment, questioning what stereotype if any surrounded the ‘skinhead.’ Within days I received comments of ‘racist’ and ‘Nazi’ signifying prejudice against a shaven head, when in modern day society diversity is usually praised and encouraged. The origin of the term ‘skinhead’ is not rooted in racism, the term being corrupted in the 1970’s by the neo-nazi movement. The term actually stems from the Jamaican skinheads such as Bunny Wailer, who populated Reggae in the1960’s, some decade previous. By 1968/69, the ‘skinhead’ wasn’t just a hairstyle but a way of life. To these working class people, cleanliness, stylish clothes and good music were dominant. The increasing popularity of Ska music, a branch of reggae bred the skinhead in their straight jeans, large boots, white shirts, braces and nylon or leather jackets and were regularly seen at Judge Dread gigs. Doc Marten, Ben Sherman, and Vespa scooters were typical designers of the ‘skinhead’ movement, which dwindled in the mid 70’s. This is around the time the neo-nazi movement became prominent, as the ‘mod generation’ became divided and those racist, political hating, violent youths were the new face, the new stereotype. They popularised themselves throughout the 80’s and 90’s with bands such as ‘Skrewdriver’ and were akin to increased violence on Adolf Hitler’s birthday. The number of ‘skinheads’ in Britain today is in decline, as in essence the skinhead is a youth organisation for the youth. Thus upon reaching full maturity, starting a family and encompassing different values the need to be in such a group no longer exists and without the experience and knowledge of older members their ‘skinhead’ values are degenerate. This is why I felt my experiment was necessary. Would the youth of day, born after the domination of the neo-nazi still be aware of their values and the attributes, which contribute to their stereotype? The answer lies within you the spectator. Consider what you first felt upon viewing this photo. Did it bring back fond memories of dancing to reggae, Bob Marley and the ‘Chelsea haircut’ or did it make you envisage violent racists? Movements begin, grow and they pass. The real reason the ‘Mods’ shaved their head was to avoid lice, for hygiene. Surely the time close cut hair symbolising a racist has passed.

Andrew McNulty.

5 responses

  • Pedro Teixeira

    Pedro Teixeira said (3 Feb 2011):

    Finally someone tells the true origin of the skins
    Good job and a great image!

  • Megan Green

    Megan Green said (3 Mar 2011):

    Excellent! I was a teenager in the 80's, so I experienced the duality of the skinhead movement. In my experience, most neo-Nazi skins will have some sort of symbol on their jacket or a tattoo identifying them as such. I don't agree with that and stay away. I live next door to a skinhead, and he's good people. Most of the skins I know, in fact, are not white.

  • Robin Perkins

    Robin Perkins said (4 Mar 2011):

    The first look I had at your photo all I thought was "Change" and "Growing", and that it was a great entry to JPG's theme. To me a new hair style is almost like a soul cleaning, a change... a "growing" of a new time or phase in your life. My 17 yrs old, daughter, just shaved her head ( lol & ahhh from mom) , but with no meaning other than a change after breaking up w/her 1st love. My husband shaves so he doesn't have to mess w/his hair. After reading the description I wondered what it said before, and where they attacking you. If they looked at your other work I think they should have seen the Art to it. Your description also taught me something new. Thank you. I love your art.

  • Irvin Kelly

    Irvin Kelly (Deleted) gave props (12 Mar 2011):

    Amazing black and white. Get this framed asap.

  • chris mahlberg

    chris mahlberg gave props (23 Mar 2011):

    I love this picture! I believe they were labled rude boys on the other side of the pond; that is followers of ska, rastafari, etc.

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