Bimbo is a term that emerged in the English language in the late 20th century as a popular term for a stupid and pliable woman. As it derives from Italian language words of male gender, it first emerged into English (probably through the United Kingdom Italianate Organized crime|underworld slang known as Polari) referring to stupid men; though it now is understood to connote a woman unless one says “male bimbo” (sometimes modified to “himbo” or “mimbo”). Some still prefer the explicitly female variant bimbette, which has also entered The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Others distinguish between the words to use “bimbette” to mean a woman either younger or stupider than a “bimbo”. The word “bimbo” is sometimes interpreted as the backronym “Body|body impressive, Brain|brain optional”.
The archetype of a bimbo with sex appeal is much used as a stock character in Comedy|comedies with sexual humor, an example being Christina Applegate’s character Kelly Bundy in Married… with Children. Alicia Silverstone’s character Cher Horowitz in Clueless is more accurately described as a Valley girl, a similar archetype with more elements of laughably unusual priorities and behaviors than are strictly derived from the “bimbo” themes of comical stupidity and sex appeal. An older comedy archetype of perhaps more direct resemblance is the dumb blonde, for example the giggling naive characters often portrayed by sultry actresses such as Marilyn Monroe.
The sacrifice of a woman’s intelligence in the furtherance of her own or another’s lust is an element of some erotica, especially that of the mind control fetish genre. Stories tell of an intelligent woman becoming a bimbo or bimbette by various realistic or unrealistic means, a process known by the coinages “bimbification” or “bimboization”. The former website bimboslutz.com was dedicated to stories of this type.
Of course there is far more amusement in an intelligent woman’s willing behavior as if she were stupid, whether in the course of sexual roleplay or in mainstream comedy, than in the behavior of a woman who is really intellectually limited. Humor deriving from blonde women’s (or male jocks’) stupidity has been accused of sexism.
Usage in fictional media
The term “bimbette” is used in the Beauty and the Beast (1991 film)|Beauty and the Beast animation|animated film to describe three women that have “the hots” for local hunter and bodybuilder Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)|Gaston. They appear to be identical triplets (red, yellow and green sexy France|French dresses, blonde hair, etc.) and have the same voice actress (Kath Soucie) providing all three girls’ voices.
An episode of the sitcom Seinfeld featured a discussion of male bimbos, which Jerry dubbed a “Mimbo.” This term has since become a fairly mainstream way to describe men with bimbo-like qualities. Another variant, himbo, was formed on analogy with bimbo but without the implication of lacking intelligence and sense.