For the past couple of days, a small corner of Twitter has been fixated on the concept of the “himbo.” I don’t think you need me to translate this but a himbo is a he-bimbo, or a male bimbo. A bimbo, just to make sure we’re on the same page, is a term applied to conventionally attractive women of, at the very most. average intelligence. In other words, a himbo is a dumb, hot guy.
But is calling someone a himbo bad?
Twitter seems to have seized on this post because this is what is known as a ‘bad tweet,’ a post so emphatic and disagreeable and superfluous that it revs everyone up. Many people got annoyed at the fact that someone might problematize their objectification of men and pushed back. (The original tweeter has since apologized for comparing the act of enjoying himbos to pedophilia.) Every day on Twitter, someone too young to remember 9/11 tweets something like “Buzz Lightyear is imperialist scum and Woody, being a cowboy, is complicit if not worse” and everyone yells about that for 18-36 hours, until someone else throws up a bad tweet.
Look, I don’t want to brag or anything but at the start of 2020 I told someone that this was “the year of the himbo.” It appears I was correct.
Fred, from Scooby-Doo!
He-Man, Master of the Universe
Big the Cat
What is clear is that on Tumblr, where the term has been deployed for years, “himbo” is frequently employed in contexts of fandom — toward fictional characters and celebrities — not regular people in danger of being manipulated or objectified to a harmful degree. Is there a danger that this fandom behavior spills into the real world? I guess. But these important details are lost when someone on Twitter just blurts out “saying Himbo is ableist.” I don’t think the swole dude in The Emperor’s New Groove is going to mind!
A theory of animated himbos, hunks, twinks, and bears, from user
I’d argue that the himbo, in the Tumblr sense of the word, falls into the same bucket as the bimbo (self-explanatory) and the Chad, each of which have their own recent online history.
As a refresher, Chads lie at one end of the Chad-Virgin spectrum (seen below), muscular jocks who get all the babes. They are called Chads because high school bullies are often named Chad.
Bimbos have enjoyed an online resurgence ever since a particularly odd piece of digital art (also seen below) went viral. It depicts a bimbo finding a book on the ground, and by the act of reading, she slowly turns what one might describe as “alt.” (An important footnote that I’m not gonna get into: the bimbo artwork here, created by DeivantArt user Sortimid, depicts a process known as “bimboification,” a sexual fetish in which people turn into or revert from being a bimbo.)
The nuance missing from this week’s himbo freakout on Twitter is that the “stupid hottie” archetype could very well exist on a spectrum in which the other end (a smart uggo?) is equally as bad. Resentful incels can be just as or more toxic than chads. Bookish people can be elitist prigs. The himbo – simple, non-threatening – is jokingly exoticized online in part because, one could assume, the other end of whatever spectrum he is on has its own downsides.
There is a predictable trend online to “ship” the opposite ends of a spectrum. The virgin and the chad can be friends, the bimbo and the alt girl can be a couple. Looks can be deceiving. Being a himbo — and being into himbos — is not a crime. In certain parts of the internet, these differences are celebrated and these archetypes are frequently subverted, often for the sake of gender and sexual equality. Anyone, regardless of their appearance or intelligence or orientation, can be loved.
I watched the keynote address for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday afternoon. Take a drink whenever Tim Cook does this thing with his hands.