The term bimbo has traditionally been defined as “an attractive but unintelligent or frivolous young woman.” A sexist, derogatory slight that has been used against women for the last century, similar to the insult, “floozie,” it gained widespread popularity in the 1980s as a way to objectify and demean women (even though bimbo originally meant “a stupid or ineffectual man”). However, in 2022, there is a new dawn for this term, and people everywhere are reclaiming and reframing its meaning.
The process of "bimbofication," a term coined by fashion content creator, Griffin Maxwell Brooks is largely credited with bringing back the term. Bimbofication is “claiming yourself, your expression and what you wear, how you act, everything that is uniquely you," according to Brooks. "It’s tricky to pinpoint a specific definition. It’s meant to be radically inclusive. It’s the process of reclaiming your own character of expression.” Brooks also underlines how the new term is important, especially to marginalized groups that are more feminine, and that bimbofication is not for the male gaze. As Brooks tells Byrdie, “anyone can be a bimbo, there’s no one way to do it.” And online communities agree: #Bimbofication has garnered over 87.2 million views on TikTok while #Bimbo has received over 1.3 billion views.
A bimbo is largely associated with the trope of the dumb blonde, but in reclaiming the term, being a bimbo is uplifting for everyone—not just white, conventionally attractive blonde women. Calling yourself a bimbo is now a part of a movement that embraces queerness and hyperfeminity. The movement spawned identifiers such as bi-mbos, himbos, and thembos for those in the queer community. Content creator, Fiona Fairbairn shares with Byrdie that bimbofication is simple, it is about, “being hot, believing you’re hot and not overthinking or thinking at all.” Fairbairn cites Paris Hilton, Elle Woods, Kim Kardashian, Fezco from Euphoria, and Channing Tatum to be her biggest inspirations in empowering herself through bimbofication.
Social media star, and arguably the TikTok avatar of reclaiming the #bimbo, Chrissy Chalpecka, tells Byrdie that being a bimbo is a journey of self-love. Chlapecka is notably known for embracing the bimbo look with a y2k, hot pink, and sparkly takes on style, regularly donning cute tracksuits and miniskirts. She emphasizes how emotional intelligence is the epitome of bimbofication. Chlapecka tells Byrdie, “a bimbo now is somebody who wants to celebrate their femininity and embrace all parts of themself and their self-love journey.” The notion of a "self-love journey" may seem like an overused concept or buzzword, but self-love within the confines of bimbofication isn’t about being perfectly enlightened all of the time. It's about being comfortable in your skin, regardless of others.
There are myriad negative stereotypes synonymous bimbo-ism, but by reclaiming the term, marginalized groups are taking the punchline to an archaic and outdated joke and harnessing their own power. For Chlapecka and Brooks, Dolly Parton is the ultimate bimbo icon. "The way she carries herself and is a human, so good down to the core," says Chlapecka. "She is my biggest inspiration of what a bimbo is and my interpretation of it.”
The internet has exploded recently with an appreciation for other bimbo bombshells such as Anna Nicole Smith, Marilyn Monroe, and Pamela Anderson. As a cultural icon, Pamela Anderson is another figure spearheading this movement. She is set to reclaim her story with an upcoming Netflix documentary—a retelling that will surely eclipse the HBO series Pam & Tommy, which ignited controversy for being produced without Anderson’s blessing. Chlapecka also notes how the bimbo movement still has a long way to go in regards to intersectional feminism. She tells Byrdie, “there needs to be a lot of improvement still with black women and how we treat them.”
Today, there's no one right way to be a bimbo and embrace bimbofication. Chlapecka shares, “I’ve seen cottagecore bimbo and all of the subcultures of it. It’s a beautiful creative outlook.” Other bimbo subsects include the #winterbimbo, which has over 5 million views on TikTok. This aesthetic is defined by a snowy, neutral color palette, short dresses, fluffy coats, ear muffs, and winter boots. However, dressing in the winter bimbo aesthetic is not about dressing for the weather, but rather dressing for the vibe and being hot.
Another bimbo subset style is the #gothbimbo, which has over 62.9 million views on TikTok. Goth bimbo style is similar to the winter bimbo for its hyperfeminine aesthetics, but switches out the snowy and cream-colored tones for gothic, dark color palettes. Goth bimbo content creator Sica.Vee shares with Byrdie, “It’s hard to define bimbo style because it’s not one clear cut thing. It’s about loving yourself unconditionally, and embracing your femininity.” For many, the process of bimbofication is not just a set aesthetic or way of presenting yourself, but it is an outlook on life through the way you dress. Vee continues, “Bimbos don’t put others down for being different. We’re pro-sex work, pro-choice, pro-BLM, and pro-LGBTQIA+.” She credits fictional characters such as Sharpay Evans from High School Musical, and Cher Horowitz from Clueless as bimbo cultural references. “Elvira is a perfect example of someone who is goth, but also a bimbo.”
Personally, as a voluptuous, neurodivergent, bleached blonde, bisexual woman, I know I am one hot bimbo. My process of bimbofication is imperfect (and I am admittedly a hot mess). I don’t wake up every day filled with self-love—more often than not it is crippling and debilitating anxiety. But, when I channel myself in how I dress, I get to be a new improved version of myself. Some days I braid my hair in pigtails and wear overalls with cowboy boots, other days I experiment with glitter eyeshadow and sport a pants suit with six-inch platform heels. The male gaze doesn’t get to decide my hotness. My hotness is in the laughter I share with friends. My hotness is in how I choose to move throughout the world. My hotness is in how I respond to a challenge. Real hotness is taking a poorly executed, sexist joke, and spinning it on its head by reclaiming it.