The Reclamation of Bimbohood (2024)


By Laura Pitcher, writer covering fashion, culture, and lifestyle. Her work has appeared in Nylon, where she is a staff writer, as well as in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Vogue, and others.

The Reclamation of Bimbohood (1)

Photo: MGM

The New York Post called it a “bimbo summit”: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan, flanked by paparazzi cameras, smiling from the front seat of a car. (This was, apparently, deserving of a cover back in 2006.) The following year was labeled the “year of the bimbo” by the tabloid, lumping together Hilton’s jail sentence, Spears’s shaved head, and Anna Nicole Smith’s death as emblematic of being “young, ditzy, and out of control.” To be a bimbo, in the early aughts, was a bad thing.

That photo has resurfaced almost 15 years later to celebrate: Within one holy day, Hilton got married, Spears was finally freed from her conservatorship, and Lohan debuted her highly anticipated acting comeback with Netflix. The internet took the news as a sign that the earth is healing.

That it’s this photo is fitting. (Sure, yes, it’s iconic, but it’s not like there aren’t other photos of them together, you know?) All three women were being torn apart by the media during the time the picture was taken. Spears was scrutinized for wearing no underwear and voted 2006’s worst celebrity dog owner (??); Lohan was told her party-girl reputation off-screen would ruin her onscreen career; and people were convinced the ditzy character Hilton played in The Simple Life was reality and were furious about it.

Hilton herself reflected on the “Holy Trinity” photo recently, saying that “most of these problems,” i.e., pitting women against each other and inventing drama, “were just caused by the media” in her podcast episode covering the 15th anniversary of the “bimbo summit.” The history of the word “bimbo”and its use as a tool of the patriarchy stretch back far, far longer than 2006, but the intent has remained the same —to equate expressing feminine sexuality, or caring “too much” about one’s appearance by, say, wearing makeup, with being unintelligent, all in an effort to keep women in check. Cambridge’s dictionary defines it as “a young woman considered to be attractive but not intelligent.” Women can’t have it all, I guess.

The false idea that women aren’t as smart as men isn’t new, but it is relevant (like in studies that show women get passed over for their male counterparts when employers want “brainy” workers), and categorizing attractive women as bimbos has put the onus on all women to prove they’re “not one of those girls” — to prove that they deserve, and more importantly, want, to be taken seriously. Brains over beauty! Except for that whole “society’s standards of acceptable attractiveness” thing, but I digress. Bizarrely, the word originated from an Italian word for a baby boy, with the slang changing around 1920 when a song written for a Broadway revue entitled My Little Bimbo Down on the Bamboo Isle used the term to describe a woman. Needless to say, calling a grown woman a term previously used for children is … not great.

Anyway, today’s bimbos have reclaimed the label to have nothing to do with any of that. To be a self-proclaimed bimbo in 2021 is to be a socially aware, politically engaged person who is capital-C Confident. A bimbo finds (versus forfeits) power in expressing femininity. And across social-media platforms, self-confessed bimbos are discussing the flaws of late-stage capitalism while wearing fake eyelashes and winged eyeliner and posting captions that educate followers about gender and racial inequality with long acrylic nails.

Much of this philosophy lives on #BimboTok. On TikTok, the hashtag #Bimbo alone already has over one billion views. Chrissy Chlapecka, a 21-year-old Chicago-based barista, is one of the most prominent New Age bimbos on the app, with nearly 4 million followers. Chlapecka posts maximalist outfit videos (most of which are pink, black, and fluffy) and encouraging satirical messages like: “shoutout to everyone who disappoints their parents by the way they dress.” In each video, Chlapecka takes on the comedic character of mentor to her “bimbabies,” making jokes about her struggle with anxiety and telling followers the secret to being hot is to “step on hom*ophobes and Republicans.” She’s the theatrical embodiment of the type of women’s-empowerment discourse you scroll past on Twitter: avoiding straight men and being yourself because the world’s ending.

To Chlapecka, being a bimbo means “being confident, loving your own version of femininity, and sexuality.” “It’s being the full and honest version of who you are aside from societal judgments that look down upon the beauty and power of femininity interpreted in one’s own way,” she continues. While like anyone viral on TikTok, she gets her fair share of hateful comments — which she then replies to by shaking her ass — her following of loyal “bimbabies” often ask her for advice or encouragement. “Chrissy, tell me he’s not worth it please,” writes one. “When I say she’s my new religion …” writes another. For these followers, Chlapecka’s open embrace of bimbodom translates to unequivocal acceptance.

Princess (also known as FauxRich on TikTok), a 22-year-old based in Los Angeles who posts TikToks showcasing her long acrylic nails and references Dolly Parton in her personal style, says “a lot of people’s true self lies within being a bimbo.” She defines being a bimbo as being “hot, caring, bubbly, pro–plastic surgery, pro–sex work, and living an authentic lifestyle,” all of which goes against the long-held notion that women have to masculinize themselves to hold power.

While bimboism is the performance of hyperfemininity, Chlapecka says that identifying as a bimbo is a tool to protest against gender norms by dismantling historical expectations of femininity. “Bimbo culture today gives feminine people the opportunity to enjoy their femininity and interpret it in their own way without judgment,” she says. Sure, maybe you’re not comfortable wearing Hello Kitty acrylic nails to the office, but maybe seeing Chlapecka in platform boots, pigtails, and a miniskirt while talking about her “big knockers” and capitalism might encourage you to wear colorful eye shadow to your work meeting without worrying that you’ll be taken less seriously or laughed at. “Bimbo has always been a word that a man has given us,” Chlapecka continues. “Now, I will give myself the label as a way of acknowledging my own power within choice to call myself it and make it into something accepting and positive.”

Today’s reclamation of bimbohood is also a tool for queer liberation. For Griffin Maxwell Brooks, a 20-year-old Princeton University undergrad who’s another popular self-confessed bimbo on TikTok, being a bimbo is a way to reclaim their body and gender expression. “I am queer and genderfluid and I love to express myself through fashion, and the idea of ‘bimbofication’ was always a hilarious and beautiful way of embracing the parts of me which were a bit shocking to society,” they say. Brooks’s take on bimboism is less pink and more latex. They share videos of the “bimbofication” of everyday life — from navigating Princeton (where they study mechanical engineering) to being on the diving team.

Brooks says that for many people, especially marginalized people, “self-expression is resistance” and bimbohood is one form of self-expression. “I think the idea of being a bimbo really resonated with a lot of feminine and queer people because it encouraged them to dig their heels into their identities rather than supressing themselves to appease society,” they explain. The response from their 800,000-plus followers, Brooks says, has fostered an online community with an “unrelenting dedication to themselves.”

That’s the crux of New Age bimbohood: It isn’t just about liking the color pink and posting makeup tutorials. It’s as expansive as femininity itself, and even better, it’s saying that you don’t need to shy away from expressing it (and definitely shouldn’t judge others who do, no matter what society has taught you). Self-professed bimbo or not, all femme people can benefit from the reclamation of bimboism as it avoids pitting different women or expressions of womanhood against each other and actively rejects the notion that being feminine is somehow being less than male counterparts (a lie to keep us in a cycle of self-doubt and self-hate). As Princess puts it, “being a bimbo is being a true girl’s girl. I was always Karen from Mean Girls, not Regina.” If the Y2K “bimbo” narrative was a way to divide women and femme people, today’s bimbo is here to unite us again.


  • power
  • tiktok
  • bimbo
  • feminism
  • gender
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The Reclamation of Bimbohood
The Reclamation of Bimbohood (2024)


Do people still say bimbo? ›

The term later re-entered usage by way of some members of Generation Z seeking to further reclaim the pejorative, such as the "BimboTok" community on the social media platform TikTok, where users engaged in stereotypical hyper-femininity to satirise consumerism, capitalism, and misogyny.

What is BimboTok? ›

BimboTok is a subculture of TikTok users who have reclaimed the word “bimbo” in a positive way to create a supportive and inclusive community of hyperfeminine people who support body confidence and are fashion-forward and “generally ditzy in an endearing way,” BimboTok member @bimbogoth explained to In The Know.

What is it like to be a bimbo? ›

A bimbo strives to appear nice, sweet, accommodating, tempting, and pleasant at all times at the expense of her sense of self: her self-esteem, her self-direction, and her self-confidence. Not wanting to risk displeasing those that matter, she is quick to respond with yes, but unafraid to say no when it matters.

Is bimbo a rude word? ›

An attractive but unintelligent or frivolous young woman. The term came into English (from Italian, 'little child, baby') in the early 1920s as a derogatory term for a person of either sex. The sense of stupid or 'loose' woman was however developing, and in the late 1980s the term enjoyed a new vogue in the media.

What is the old slang for attractive female? ›

Bunny is an outdated slang term used to describe “a pretty, appealing, or alluring young woman, often one ostensibly engaged in a sport or similar activity.” For example, an attractive woman at the beach might have been referred to as a “beach bunny.” This phrase was popular in the '70s but quickly fell out of favor.

What is the male version of a bimbo? ›

Himbo, a portmanteau of the English masculine pronoun him and bimbo, is a slang term for a sexually attractive, sexualized, naïve and unintelligent man. The first known use dates back to 1988; the word gained renewed popularity and attention in the 2010s and 2020s.

Is a 32 year old a Gen Z? ›

While the dates are still a bit up in the air (some argue that the oldest Zoomers were born in 1995), the Pew Research Center defines members of Gen Z as anyone born between 1997 and 2012. That means the group spans ages 12 to 27 as of 2024.

What is a female himbo? ›

The term has been broadly used in pop culture and films since the 1920s where female characters were portrayed as unintelligent women usually with blonde locks, curvaceous body while wearing heavy make-up and revealing clothes.

What is bimbo summit? ›

A photo of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and Britney Spears was infamously dubbed the "bimbo summit" in 2006. John Sciulli/WireImage/Getty Images, George Pimentel/WireImage/Getty Images, Nick Harvey/WireImage/Getty Images, Paris Hilton has reflected on the infamous photo of her with Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan.

What is bimbo hypnosis? ›

Themes include emasculation, "bimbofication" (hypnosis used to turn a woman into a "bimbo," apparently willingly), and use of hypnosis as a kind of pick-up technique.

What is a social bimbo? ›

Bimbo is a person who is typically beautiful, but does not, perhaps, have the best mental capacity. In other words: an examle is a blond, less smart (girl).

How to start bimbofication? ›

If you really want to be a bimbo, that's wonderful, but it starts with focusing on being a better you, today. Spend the day promoting some other bimbos on Instagram, showing love. Comment on some other bimbos on reddit. Write a guide on how to come out as a bimbo to your family.

Is bimbo American or Mexican? ›

Bimbo Bakeries USA is a proud member of the Grupo Bimbo family of companies. Grupo Bimbo was born in 1945 in Mexico City, Mexico selling cellophane-wrapped small and large white loaf bread, rye bread and toast.

What is another name for bimbo? ›

bimbo (noun as in wench) Strong matches. damsel doxy hussy jezebel prostitute strumpet tramp wanton whor*.

What did bimbo used to be called? ›

A bimbo was originally a man

Derived from an Italian word for a baby boy, when it first emerged in American slang around the turn of the 20th century, it referred to a menacing, brutish bully (perhaps a reference to a baby's equally stocky, thickset physique) or a dolt.


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