“No Thoughts. Head Empty. Just Vibes” is 2020’s version of “Keep Calm and Carry On.” After spending all year calculating the potentially deadly consequences of things as simple as grocery shopping and going to the office — and the last few months pondering the country’s past, present, and future (hello again Brexit) — we are burned out. Why overwhelm our brains with anything else? Why not make things easy on ourselves?
That’s exactly what’s happening across the internet as young people, from budding middle-schoolers to disaffected twenty-somethings, are “emptying their heads” and reclaiming the word “bimbo.” On TikTok specifically, the prospect of prioritising beauty over brains is being explored in earnest, from himbo worship to bimbofication fantasies to a full-on community of self-described “New Age Bimbos” — the last of which are encouraging everyone to embrace their inner bimbo by spreading the gospel of good looks and kindness.
Chrissy Chlapecka, @chrissychlapecka on TikTok, is probably one of the platform’s most-visible bimbos. Proud to be a ditzy blonde, Chlapecka didn’t think of herself as a bimbo per se, until one day when her comments section was flooded with affirmations and praises calling her one. Now she embraces it: “The bimbo is somebody who radiates confidence, is comfortable in themself, and doesn’t give a fuck about what anyone says to them.” She adds that today’s bimbos are also expanding and updating our established understanding of what bimbos stand for: “The bimbo is pro-choice, pro-sex work, pro-BLM and she, he, or they likes to look pretty. We like to look pretty while we’re doing it.”
In the past, “bimbo” was an insult: It described a woman who was all looks and no brains. Bimbos were morally reprehensible because they cared too much about money and sold their bodies. But, today, bimbos come in all shapes and sizes: TikTok is full of himbos, lesbian himbos, thembos, and bimbos crossed with every imaginable subculture, from anime bimbos to groovy bimbos. Bella, also known as @bimbogoth, describes her brand of bimbo as having, “the personality of a Valley Girl with the exterior of a motorcycle,” and gets inspiration from goth bombshells like Elvira and Jenniffer Tilley’s Tiffany Valentine from Chucky’s Child’s Play franchise.
From Marilyn Monroe to Anna Nicole Smith, bimbos have historically gotten the dirty word treatment because anything that challenged the narrow cis-hetero ideal was automatically dismissed as worthless and disposable. “These guys who hate on us are literally just sad that a girl who looks like us will never fuck them," Bella explains.
More recently, there has been a more insidious way of undermining the bimbo aesthetic and lifestyle. Starting in the ‘10s, after decades of booby blondes, supermodels, and reality TV stars, there was a hard cultural pivot to a new feminine aesthetic: whether it was Manic Pixie Dream Girls and girl bosses, it was all about “smart” women with “depth.” Women with brown hair cut their bangs too short and wanted to take over the world, be president, run companies, and aggressively and unerotically show nipples on Instagram. Even though this aesthetic was billed as being empowering, it proved to be as oppressive as every other feminine ideal — not least because it was another way of perpetuating the white supremacist patriarchy.
Syrena, also known as @fauxrich, is TikTok’s premier bimbo historian, and explains it this way: “Men and misogyny have taken that feminism and spun it into this cool-girl, ‘I’m-not-like-other-girls” stereotype to now please men. No matter what we do, no matter what our feminism is, every single thing is often spun to please men.” New Age Bimbos choose to be true to themselves over any socially imposed ideal.
Syrena has an associate’s degree in math and is currently working as a caretaker while earning her bachelor’s degree, with the goal of becoming a cosmetic injector. Despite her education and aspirations, she gets judged for her tastes and looks on a daily basis: “I’ve even had TAs hit on me and tell me they can help me get a better grade when I have an A in that class. Don’t come near me!”
Syrena also corrects the assumption that bimbos are unintelligent — it’s just that our culture’s idea of intelligence is rooted in patriarchal, racist, and ableist norms. Syrena says that being a bimbo, then, is “not a protest against intelligence, it’s kind of a protest against academia and how elitist and classist it is.” Chrissy concurs: “It’s rejecting what men specifically think intelligence is.” That’s why when New Age Bimbos ask something like: “Why can’t we just print more money?” They aren’t only challenging institutional conventions, they are also challenging our very understanding of what it means to be intelligent. They know they might be misinterpreted, but they’re still going to question societal norms in a way that’s authentic to them.
TikTok’s New Age Bimbos know they are part of a long lineage of glamorous misunderstood femmes. Much like famed bimbos of the past, they’re an autodidactic community of art and pop culture obsessives, and they have a critical understanding of how the media has captured womanhood through the ages, which helps them better understand why they’re treated the way they are today. “It is all self-taught,” Chrissy says about contextualising how bimbos are perceived. “It really is by studying the internet and what’s going on in Instagram and TikTok. I’m so aware of all that when something comes up or is to happen I always think, How can I educate myself on this?”
“Bimbofication” made its internet debut in the early aughts as a controversial kink that eroticised the transition from smart and modest to air-headed and hot. Then, misogynists took a piece of erotic bimbo fan art and flipped it to mourn the loss of so-called “smart, modest” women. It’s the familiar incel cry: Society is spiralling out of control now that hot women have the power to reject them. While bimbofication is no longer anchored in the fetish scene, people are once again craving bimbofication, only this time for themselves.
On Twitter and Instagram memes are declaring people’s intentions to turn into hotter, smooth-brained versions of themselves. On TikTok, people document their bimbofication with ecstasy, undoubtedly a reflection, too, of the fact that, at a time when so many things are making us feel bad, one reliable way to feel good is to look good. They invite us to throw yourself into transforming your body into the picture of your own idea of beauty.
What bimbos know for sure is that both intelligence and attractiveness are flimsy constructs that are regularly wielded against femmes, people of colour, and neurodivergent people. We’re learning once again that the rewards of conforming to the status quo are temporary and precarious at best. When Ariana Grande said, “no shit / math class / never was good” at the end of 34+35, it was a nod to bimbos everywhere, a reminder that, no, you really never will need to use your high school math ever again — but you will always cherish your makeup skills. The bimbo community is growing and growing, then, because a lot of people are slowly realising that it feels nice to have your boobs pushed up by a corset top, to put your hair up in the perfect high ponytail, simple and smooth as your brain.