Alicia Amira (pictured centre) calls herself a professional “bimbo” and “girl-power activist”. Photo Credit: Jacki Huntingdon / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The rise of the bimbo

Being intentionally thick is not a feminist act

Artillery Row

My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.” Mary Wollstonecraft

After over a hundred years of women’s writing and campaigning to establish the female sex as intellectually capable, competent, and equal to the male, Generation Z have decided it’s time to throw in the towel and become proud bimbos. A recent article published on Vice, “Bimbofication Is Taking Over. What Does That Mean for You?”, asks the pressing questions of women’s emancipation: “Are you a hyperfeminine woman? Are you really hot?” 

“The modern-day bimbo,” the author explains, “is a fresh approach to intersectional feminism. There is, actually, careful thought behind bimbology, and it could be a way to reach true liberation.”

A gift to the multi-billion dollar beauty and pornography industries

The “careful thought” underpinning the theory is elaborated on in the linked video, dubbed the “Bimbo Manifesto”, which encourages women to “stop fact-checking … if you wanna believe a fact, just believe it, even with no research”, “show up everywhere hot all the time … spend three hours getting ready”, “don’t participate in discourse (act clueless so they don’t ask ur opinion)”, “just say idk to everything”, “stop looking at the news”, “no critical thinking, no self awareness, no thoughts, just vibes”, among other things.

Less than one century after women gained the right to vote and participate in public life, contemporary feminism seeks to absolve us of the responsibility that freedom entails and instead strive once again to become decorative objects. It’s not women who benefit from brand of faux-feminism: unsurprisingly, former employees at Vice have spoken out about the levels of sexual harassment in their workplace.

If there was a social media antithesis of the TikTok “bimbofication” of younger women, it would be Mumsnet, where mothers (who are expected to stay within the realm of the domestic) are using the forum to become politically engaged. You have to wonder, when sensible discussions on the realities and significance of biological sex are being framed as “radicalisation” and thoughtful feminists are being condemned as “bigoted”, whether there is a strong social incentive behind young women adopting wilful ignorance as a protective defence. After all, you can’t be accused of wrongthink if you have “no thoughts, just vibes”.

Coping mechanisms with cutesy branding

Sure enough, the self-described “bimbos” attempt to disprove the trope of the feminine airhead by listing their progressive credentials: “A bimbo isn’t dumb. Well, she kind of is, but she isn’t that dumb! She’s actually a radical leftist, who’s pro sex work, pro Black Lives Matter, pro LGBTQ+, pro choice, and will always be there for her girlies, gays and theys.” Quelle surprise. The “bubblegum pink optics” are supposedly “grounded in inclusive, anti-capitalist, jubilantly queer and aggressively kind ideology” and yet the type of hyper-feminine woman pictured and described is a gift to the multi-billion dollar beauty and pornography industries.

“New-age bimbology” aims to set itself apart from its exclusively thin, white, and upper-class aesthetic predecessor, as it has been “built on by multiple creators whose individual identities span spectrums of gender, weight, race and class.” Unlike “girlbossification,” it argues, “bimboism is not rooted in capitalist attachment.”

Those who are overly-concerned with the concept of “emotional labour” could do with examining the amount of time and money it takes to “show up everywhere hot all the time.” By internalising and “reclaiming” the messaging of these industries, adopting slurs as a social and political identity-label, so-called “radical leftist” consumers have effectively broadened the market (and therefore profits) of these industries by increasing their appeal. 

This pornified trend, however, points to a deeper psychological conflict among Generation Z, particularly young women, who have come of age during a period of intense digital oversaturation. As the article progresses, it becomes clear how many of these trends are in fact coping mechanisms with cutesy branding.

The “no thoughts head empty helpless woman look we use to manipulate men”

The author notes how, during the pandemic, “those of us in lockdown turned to social media to squander the endless hours of isolation we’d found ourselves facing. Clearly, no app filled the void left by our lost social interaction quite like TikTok, with its endless stream of faces, funnies, memes and discourse.” Total exposure to the meaninglessness and chaos that the online world has unearthed is bound to leave one anxious and wishing they were staring at a white wall:

“A recurring theme in bimbology is forcing yourself to think less, especially in times of conflict. Fifi’s “wall method” describes how to force yourself to have no thoughts by imagining a white wall. A large part of bimboism’s appeal is in its potential to shield oneself from harm — smooth-brain style.”

The article itself is such an onslaught of contemporary culture and discourse, dense with references and hyperlinks to TikTok, that both theme and form make the case for opting-out and thinking less. In the linked video, the creator of the “wall method” explains her reasoning: “my room is white, and that’s where I feel the most comfort.” For a generation with rising mental health problems, who have spent the best part of the last two years indoors with screens as their only connection to the outside world, appearance has taken precedence over substance. If it proves impossible to disconnect from your phone, why not try to disconnect from your thoughts? 

Another young woman featured in the article acts out the “no thoughts head empty helpless woman look we use to manipulate men” while blinking and smiling blankly like a child. The problem being, if you’ve deliberately trained yourself to appear more, and think less, who holds the real power in this negotiation? The liberal feminist line, that self-objectification is empowering, belies the fact that the body is a fragile church. Sex appeal — and the currency you may think you can derive from it — is short-lived. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself turning to those “essentialist” Mumsnet mothers for advice, wondering why you wasted so much time. 

Virginia Woolf once said that “women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.” It’s difficult to see what the version of feminism proposed by Vice does to challenge this historical conception. A man who views women as intellectually inferior sex objects is unlikely to care whether or not the performance is ironic. My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures.

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