Illustrations by Megan Le Brocq
Bitch. Slut. Bimbo. All these words have been used in a derogatory fashion to put women down and keep them there for decades. When individual terms are dissected, it reveals the misogyny at their hearts. A bitch tends to be a woman who speaks her mind and voices her opinion; a slut, someone who is sexually liberated, but bimbo is what I want to focus on, as the term has undergone a transformation in the last year.
Urban dictionary define the traits of a bimbo to be a woman who is conventionally attractive but unintelligent, obsessed with boys and wears lots of make-up. They also go on to say that the only kind of attraction towards these women is physical; their low IQ renders them nothing but sexual objects. The phrase ‘bimbo’ emerged in the 1920s—initially for use for any gender—referring to humour, but its meaning changed the more prevalent it became. Gradually, it developed into a derogatory term and was used as means to keep women subjugated by men. The classic media trope of the blonde bimbo was incredibly visible throughout the history of Hollywood: from the ‘classic’ bimbo Marilyn Monroe, to ‘new age’ bimbos like Anna Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton. Smith and Monroe were both demonised in the media, hounded, and driven to an early death. Hilton, however leant into the bimbo label throughout the early 2000s with her show ‘The Simple Life’. She has since revealed in interviews that this persona was nothing more than a character put on. Hilton is a business genius, owning a multi-billion dollar retail company, 19 product lines and 23 fragrances. This only scratches the surface of her achievements, but she built this by playing a ‘bimbo’ and making the system work for her. She was written off and underestimated solely due to the character she played.
Hilton is the perfect example of how Gen-Z have reclaimed the bimbo. Whilst Hilton may not be a part of the TikTok bimbo movement, she served as a blueprint for how women can be both hyperfeminine and conventionally successful.
The TikTok bimbo movement, however, is so much more than the second wave feminism #GirlBoss movement. The reclamation of bimboism has become an intersectional and inclusive movement. TikTok bimbos are queer, trans—all races and all body type. TikToker @chrissychlapecka, one of the leaders in the movement describes the modern day bimbo as a radical leftist, pro-sex work, pro-BLM, pro-LGBTQ+ and pro-choice. This adds a new dimension to bimbos; before they were purely sex objects, whereas now these women combine hyper-femininity with important political messages. Through this, bimbos become everything many men love through their appearance through their appearance, but everything they hate – self-aware, sexually empowered, and politically conscious. Global capitalism expects women and femme presenting people to look good all the time, whilst also constantly striving for self-improvement. Bimbos choose to stave off the notion that you have to be constantly working towards a higher goal, instead choosing to enjoy the pressure of having to look good, but doing so without the internalised male gaze.
For as long as I can remember there has always been categorisations of women that create divides. Currently it is ‘bruh’ girls versus ‘hi girlies’ girls. This may seem a harmless label for different types of women, but it too is rooted in misogyny . In popular media culture, the ‘bruh’ girls are the cool girls who hang around with boys and maybe don’t have many female friends – think Cady Heron from Mean Girls, pre-transformation. ‘Hi girlies’ girls are the Regina Georges of the movie – classically feminine, pretty, surrounded by groups of other similar women. The bimbo movement is trying to undo this kind of misogyny that forces women to pick a side. Bimbos believe that you can embrace your femininity through wearing skimpy clothes and pink, but also believe that being a bimbo is a mindset; it is confidence, leftism, anti-capitalism, and being empowered. You can be a ‘bruh’ girl and a bimbo. You can be a bimbo, himbo or thembo – it is an inclusive movement for the empowerment and liberation of all from the guises of the patriarchy. That is why I am proud to call myself a bimbo.