Trend Alert introduces you to the latest trends that are impacting the daily lives of 16-24s.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “bimbo” is a derogatory term, meaning “an attractive but unintelligent or frivolous young woman.” While the word is based on an Italian term for a male baby, since the 1920s it has been associated with women in popular culture. It had a resurgence in the ‘80s and ‘90s, used to deride women linked to sex scandals in the media. It wasn’t until the 21st century that it became common to recognise the sexist attitudes implicit in calling someone a bimbo, which ironically punishes women for conforming to beauty standards set by the male gaze.
Over the years many marginalised groups, such as black or LGBTQ+ people, have reclaimed words that were originally used as slurs, as a way of regaining control of how they are perceived and portrayed in society and the media. In recent years, as the idea of women being sex-positive has become more popular, feminists have started to do the same with the word bimbo. Adult entertainment star Alicia Amira is credited with founding the bimbo movement in 2017, which celebrates femininity and women taking ownership of their sexuality.
Since then, Gen Z has taken on the responsibility of rebranding the bimbo, spreading their updated definition of the term on TikTok. Initially, this was led by influencers such as Chrissy Chlapecka, who took the look traditionally associated with the bimbo to a hyper-feminine extreme, yet subverted expectations by confidently speaking on political issues, promoting feminist and socialist ideas. Over time, BimboTok evolved in line with Gen Z’s inclusive values, and the idea of the bimbo expanded to include anyone who followed philosophy of bimboism, no matter their gender or how they look or dress. TikToker Griffin Maxwell Brooks explained: “The only requirement for bimbofication is that you embrace and reclaim your body in the name of independence.”
The concept of bimboism isn’t just about rejecting a sexist, outdated slur towards a certain type of woman. It has become a movement focused on embracing your individuality and ignoring those who underestimate you. This shouldn’t be confused with the girlboss movement, which many Gen Z-ers view as putting too much pressure on women to pursue capitalist achievements, bolstering rather than disrupting the existing unequal society. Instead, bimboism is about being your true self, not letting anyone else define you, and refusing to be pressured by others’ expectations.
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