Snooki is Chilean descent (including Italian Chilean ancestry) and was adopted when she was six months old and was raised by Italian American parents. She earned her nickname, "Snooki" in middle school when her friends named her after "Snookie", a (male) character in Save the Last Dance because she was the first of her friends to kiss a boy.
Snooki grew up and attended school in Marlboro, New York where she was a cheerleader. During high school, she suffered from an eating disorder, at one point weighing a mere 80 lbs. The 4 ft. 9 in. (145 cm) she attributes maintaining her position as a cheerleader partly led to her disorder.