You’ve heard of the term bimbo, but are you familiar with what a himbo is? Think Arthur Curry from Aquaman, Jason Mendoza from The Good Place, or Thor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s the guy who seems to have it all: a pretty face and six-pack abs, except he’s lacking a little (or a lot) when it comes to smarts. Despite that, many women and men are enamored with them.
What is a Himbo?
According to Merriam-Webster, a himbo is an “attractive but vacuous man.” The word itself is a portmanteau of “him” and “bimbo.” This is the popular himbo meaning and is also how the media portrays them. However, there are those who would argue that the most accurate description of what a himbo is comes from Urban Dictionary:
“Generally, a large (broad, tall, or buff) attractive man, who tends to be not very bright, but usually extremely nice and respectful. Think Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove, or maybe a golden retriever.”
Origins of the Word Himbo
The word itself isn’t particularly new. Its first known use was in a Rita Kempley article published back in 1988 titled, “THE HIMBO ALL POWERFUL AND ALL BEEF! IT’S THE REEL MEN!!!” in all caps, as you might expect. It was a period of film history during which the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were among the biggest stars. The actors characterized the stereotype of being all brawn and no brain.
Are They Really Unintelligent, Though?
The modern himbo isn’t totally brainless, however. They might not be the sharpest and are often goofy, but their real charm lies in the fact that they are well-intentioned good guys. They are simple, but that’s one of the things that make them desirable to most women.
So while they may not make you go weak in the knees with their intelligence and wit, they can keep you warm with their muscular arms and sweep you off your feet in one move. Compared to the cold and detached Sherlock Holmes or Bruce Wayne types, it’s no wonder himbos are popular with the girls.
What is a Bimbo?
We’ve established the fact that a himbo is similar to a bimbo. For those unfamiliar, most sources define bimbo as an “attractive woman who is frivolous or unintelligent.” It is quite similar to the “dumb blonde” stereotype and is equally derogatory.
A “bimbo slut,” for example, is a common negative association that people have with the word. In this context, a “hot bimbo” is seen as a beautiful woman who is “easy” and is only after a man’s money. Other usages in popular culture also include “sexy bimbo.”
In comparison, it is widely accepted that the term himbo is far less insulting.
The Two Types of Himbo
The handsome and buff man image is often associated with aggression, misogynistic tendencies, and other traits of toxic masculinity that most women would avoid. However, it is important to distinguish the lovable himbo from these types of men. Aside from the popularly accepted himbo definition, sociologist Michael S. Kimmel suggests that there are also two categories to take note of:
Those created for men, such as Sylvester Stallone and David Hasselhoff. These himbos are renowned for being very skilled at something.
Those created for women, such as *Fabio, Keanu Reeves, and Woody Harrelson. These himbos are known for being kinder and gentler, no matter how intimidating their appearance might be.
*Fabio is an Italian model and actor who is best known for being the “romance novel ideal.” He is known for his sculpted face and body, as well as his gentle personality.
Himbo vs. Toxic Masculinity
What exactly is toxic masculinity and how does it manifest? This pertains to the macho or red-blooded male ideal that most men, to some degree, were expected to adhere to. It is at the root of misogynistic behavior, including the likes of catcalling and bullying. The idea teaches young boys to grow up without showing any weakness or vulnerability. They are supposed to maintain a “tough-guy” appearance, even through emotional distress.
After all, “boys don’t cry” right?
However, times are changing and the re-introduction of the himbo into this generation’s consciousness is slowly tearing down these outdated ideals. Sure, nice boys might finish last, but all the girls want them. Consider cheerful and kind surfer dudes over leather-jacketed bad boys who will break your heart just for the fun of it. Himbos show that a guy can be both hot and nice at the same time. Romanticizing bad boys is so passé, ladies and gents.
Examples of Himbos in Popular Media
The prevalence of the himbo character has certainly risen in recent years. To better help you understand the concept, here are some of the most popular examples in media today.
Aquaman‘s Arthur Curry
He might be imposing and tattooed all over, but Arthur Curry is far from being stone-cold. When we were first introduced to him, his character was revealed to have been helping a small fishing town survive harsh winters. His childish humor and innate ability to get himself into all sorts of trouble (which he finds his way out of, mostly through brute strength), makes him one of the most adorable himbos on this list.
The Good Place‘s Jason Mendoza
When he was still alive, Jason Mendoza had major impulse issues. He is portrayed as impulsive and rather dumb. Despite his disposition, however, Jason is far from being violent. Save for the fact that he considers throwing a Molotov the answer to just about any problem. We did say he wasn’t particularly bright, right? Blame the whip-its for it. Whilst he might seem like the type you’d be instantly annoyed at, Mendoza’s main redeeming factor is the fact that he always has good intentions. His way of doing things might be questionable, however.
He may wield a giant hammer and have muscles that were seemingly carved out of marble, but Thor is actually quite a benign character. Well, so to speak. Think of him as the school jock mixed with the class clown: often obnoxiously loud and a bit of a bully, but he means well. He’s always ready to protect those he loves, striking fear into the hearts of his enemies, while also stealing everyone else’s. He’s a good representation of the old and new himbo.
Gossip Girl‘s Nate Archibald
He’s the epitome of someone who has it all. A handsome face, money, and an influential family name. Sounds like someone who’d be a Class-A jerk, right? Well, not Nate. In fact, he’s one of the nicer guys on the show. He gets constant attention from women of all ages. If there’s one downside to his himbo character, it’s that he lacks a little spice.
True Blood‘s Jason Stackhouse
Jason Stackhouse fits the himbo definition to a T. When we were initially introduced to his character, he was every bit a hunky good boy. His story pretty much involved work, bedding a seemingly endless list of women, and backing up Sookie whenever she’s in a pinch. However, as his character developed, Jason became more thoughtful about his actions and relationships.
Whether you love them or feel indifferent towards them, there’s no denying that the himbo revival signaled a new age for Hollywood’s leading men. Perhaps they’re a new ideal for young boys to look up to as well? If there’s one thing men can learn from them, it’s that kindness and staying soft in a world that teaches them to be hard matters. It isn’t uncool nor is it a weakness. In fact, it only makes them more attractive.