The Real Jersey Girl

Comparing "Snooki" with Another Jersey Original, Paddler Margo Pelligrino

Nicole Polizzi, a.k.a., "Snooki."

Nearing the end of a too-hot summer, the question everyone between New York and Delaware Bay is asking is: What does it take to be a real Jersey Girl? MTV’s runaway hit show "Jersey Shore" which has redefined reality TV (as even more scripted drunkenness and hook ups) has given us this generation’s Gidget in the form of the diminutive 22-year-old Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi.

While I haven’t personally met Snooki, I do know a real housewife of New Jersey, 43-year-old Medford Lakes mother of two Margo Pellegrino. Margo has spent most of the summer away from her husband Carl, 5-year-old daughter Julia and 8-year-old son Billy paddling a fast light outrigger canoe down the Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Diego. Full disclosure—Margo did this extreme paddle as a project of Blue Frontier of which I, fuhgeddaboutit, happen to be president.

So, while I have no more biases than any cable news network named after a small carnivorous mammal, what we probably need to determine the winner of this True Jersey Girl contest are some wachamacallit? Metrics. Dates and attributes that will allow you the reader to compare and make your own judgment.


Paddler and ocean advocate Margo Pelligrino.©

In 2007, Margo, partly inspired by my book "50 Ways to Save the Ocean," paddled an outrigger canoe from Miami, Florida to Camden, Maine to raise awareness of ocean issues and citizen groups fighting to make a difference.

In 2007, Snooki, a year out of high school, allegedly took some nude photos of herself on Valentine’s Day and now wishes she hadn"t.

In 2009, Margo paddled from Miami to New Orleans to raise awareness of oil, chemical, agricultural and industrial pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. Among her supporters was the Gulf Restoration Network, now one of the frontline citizen groups responding to the BP blowout disaster.

In 2009, Snooki scored huge when she was chosen for the opening season cast of "Shores" having earlier made an appearance on "Is She Really Going Out with Him?" the story of "sweet girls" and the "douchebags" they date.


1. Challenges Faced and Overcome

Margo: Giant waves and wipeouts. Rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard while training off New Jersey last winter.

Sooki: Got punched in the face by a drunk guy in a New Jersey bar.

2. Statement of Commitment

Margo: "This coastal paddling journey is my way to call attention to the need for healthy oceans."

Sooki: "You feel more sexy when you’re tan."

3. How Others See You

Margo: "She’s a great example of someone with passion and drive and commitment, doing what she can do. She’s a small piece of the fabric of what needs to be done to save the ocean. She’s doing it for her children." —Husband Carl to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Snooki: "She’s a great girl and anyone would be happy to date her. I’m the lucky one." —New boyfriend Jeff Miranda to Radaronline.

(Miranda seems way better than her ex Emilio Masella who, according to TMZ, says he regrets they didn’t make a sex tape.)

DAVID HELVARG is the president of the Blue Frontier Campaign, online at