Saturday, May 1, 2010

Profiling the Skinka and Hnakki

As a public service for my non-Icelandic readers, I've decided to do a special post today focusing on the Icelandic societal phenomena known as skinka and hnakki.

Skinka is an Icelandic term describing a certain segment of the (usually young) female population whose tastes in clothing and fake tanning are rather tragic. Skinka girls typically originate in the suburbs of Reykjavik, and are often found--in packs--at one of Iceland's two shopping malls, scouring for bright pink, shimmering, butt-hugging spandex garments. The skinka girl can be identified by her orange-ish skin with 'raccoon eyes' eyeliner, stretchy Eurotrash outfits, and over-processed bleach blond hair. She also likes massively crappy pop music and probably watches American Idol (yes, sadly it is broadcast in Iceland) or the Icelandic equivalent, Idol stjörnuleit (Idol Starsearch). 

Unfortunately, skinka girls have a powerful hold on Icelandic society, as most of the retailers at Iceland's two shopping malls cater to the tastes of the skinka crowd, leaving other shoppers in a bind. Sadly, there is a huge gap in Icelandic fashion; there is either the high-end designer boutiques, which average consumers can barely afford, or skanky skinka shops, where classy people avoid altogether. The people stuck in the middle stock up on all their clothing essentials on overseas vacations.

Here is a visual, which shows how an ordinarily attractive girl (left) can become a skinka victim (right):

For those of you in the UK, a good example of skinka would be Katie Price (aka Jordan).

The Urban Dictionary defines skinka as
"Skinka means ham in english and icelanders use that term because the skin of a pearson that has gone to many times to a sun salon is all wrinkled like a ham.
A "skinka" is a girl that is super tanned, with bleached hair and dresses like a skank, showing as much of her boobs and thighs as possible. But that is a bad case.
Skinka is more commonly used when referring to a girl that has too much make up on, like a drag queen, and dresses like she's going to a club in miami when the temperature calls for much warmer clothes.
English: He only thinks she's hot because he has a thing for skinkas. 
Icelandic: Honum finnst hún bara heit útaf hann fýlar skinkur.
English: You are such a skinka 
Icelandic: Þú ert svo mikil skinka"
Meanwhile, the male equivalent of skinka is referred to in Icelandic as FM hnakki, or simply hnakki. Hnakki is pronounced like NAH-KEE and its literal translation is neck. Some say that the term originated out of Selfoss (small town on the south coast) for the boys with bleached, spiky hair, over-tanned skin, and an unfortunate taste for crappy rock bands like Nickelback. (The FM part refers to the radio station 95.7*, which occasionally plays Nickelback-type rubbish.) These boys also are known to spend a disproportionate amount of their income on American pickup trucks or tricked-out Ford Mustangs. In the US, these boys would be considered to be an odd blend of rednecks and metrosexuals, which, if you think about it, is sort of an oxymoron.

To see an example of hnakki, check out the blog Pale is the New Tan.  Also, Iceland's gossip magazine Séð og Heyrt runs rampant with both skinka and hnakki people.

Wiktionary defines hnakki as:
From Old Norse hnakki. Origin of the slang sense is unknown.
hnakki m (genitive singular hnakka, plural hnakkar) 
1. nape of the neck
2. (slang, pejorative, neologism) a stereotypical grouping of superficial juveniles associated with sport, fitness and tanning, that often bleach their hair and dress fashionably- similar to a jock.
As one would expect--given these groups' adoration of hair bleach and awful fake tans--skinka girls typically pair off with hnakki boys. And then they make little skinkuhnakki babies and the cycle perpetuates itself, thereby guaranteeing a lifetime demand in Iceland for hair bleach, tanning creams, and crappy, tight-fitting fashions.** THE END.

*Thanks to some comments and other concerned parties, this was corrected to reflect 95.7 and not 97.7 as I had previously written. Radio station 97.7 is sooooo not as terrible as 95.7.
**Apparently, you can find plenty of skinka and hnakki people in New Jersey, USA. In fact, you can witness such phenomenon on the show Jersey Shore.  True story: in 2000, when I was doing a semester abroad in London UK, I met another student in the exchange program at a bar in central London. She was from New Jersey. She was wearing a cow-print mini-skirt and fake leather knee boots and had a very Barbie-like bleach blond ponytail held up by some serious hair spray. She asked where I was from. I told her I was from Wisconsin. She was like (seriously),"WOW this must be so weird for you to be in a city and all." (said the girl in the COW PRINT skirt...)  


reykjaviksexfarm said...

A wonderful investigation Yessica. Pretty much spot on!

The bit about the shopping is especially true. My wife just hates shopping in Iceland as they don´t cater to her style and Size and plus she doesn´t fancy looking like an Ibiza disco diva dropout!

And Yes, the spiritual home for these people is Selfoss. There seems to be an awful lots of glowing people there...

I would probably say though that a Hnakki is now more likely to listen to Flass FM (104.5), which for non-icelanders is the Icelandic Equivalent of Kiss FM

And of course on a Saturday night your are almost likely to find them in Hverisbarinn, Apotek or B5 (if they want to be classy)....

I´m amazed Stöð 2 hasn´t picked up the rights to MTV´s Jersey shore. It would be a ratings winner!

Anonymous said...

Yessica ,

I admit it, I am (was) a hnakki. However, upon careful consideration of your latest blog post .. I am a changed man i.e I will stop hitting the tanning bed.

There, I said it, and it feels damn good.

yours truly,


arxacies said...

Hey, we have those in the US, especially where I live in New Jersey.

We call them guidos and guidettes and even have a show about them called "Jersey Shore"!

Small world.

Anonymous said...

"FM" refers to "FM 95.7" (the actual name of the radio station). X-id is atually semi-decent... ;-)

Yessica said...

Thanks for the comments everyone!

@Reykjaviksexfarm: Have I told you that I love the name of your blog? Regarding Jersey Shore, I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing this show, but I have heard plenty about the infamous guido 'fist pump' dance...I think I'm going to put this show on my bit torrent wish list.

@VS Hater: Way to see the light, my friend. Stop hitting the tanning bed and embrace being as pasty and sickly-looking as the rest of us. Let's bring back goth!!

@arxacies: Thanks for the update on the American skinka/hnakki. I've always just called the guido/guidette people 'douche bags' or 'douche baguettes'.

@Anon: Thanks for the update -- I've made the correction in the post now! X-id can be OK...I just want them to stop playing Metallica.

Lindsey said...

Ha this is too funny! I agree that guidos are the closest US counterpart!

Yessica said...

@Lindsey: You know, I'm beginning to suspect that Iceland is the New Jersey of Europe!

Isabel said...

Yessica-I might be spending my summer there... Please help me decide if I should give up NYC for Iceland for 3 months!! I know what you're going to say...

Anonymous said...


After some more thought on this subject matter.

Can I still keep a skinka in my closet ? I mean.. just to play with once in a while. No one needs to know ; she can set up a mini-tanning bed in the walk-in closet for all I care. Sometimes artificial is good (as long as it can be disposed of easily..) Its all good, .. right ??


Louis-Philippe Loncke said...

Yes, I prefer ordinary good looking girls too. Hate make-up.

By the way, if you're interested:

Follow the crazy Belgian Explorer on his double world first expedition in Iceland.

Anonymous said...

the term FM-Hnakki came from a competition that FM-95.7 ran once, where you had to get a haircut with 95.7 (or the logo) cut into the back of your head. This was a tie-in with an ad-campaign that they where running at the time.

So the term originally referred to those that got the haircut.

Anonymous said...

i went to iceland this past weekend and saw an brunette skinka!!

Anonymous said...

I included your blog in my little project. Check it out!

Norger said...

The origin of the term 'Hnakki' is believed to go back to the days when it was popular for guys to have their hair pretty straightened out in the front and then have it be wild in the back, or on the 'Hnakki.' I might be wrong. But during this hairstyles rain the I first started hearing the term.

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