Have you ever looked at a golden retriever with its tongue out and tail wagging and known with absolute certainty there was nothing going on behind those eyes? Head empty, no thoughts. Just elevator music playing.
That’s a himbo: the human embodiment of golden retrievers. Recently, himbos — a portmanteau of the word him and bimbo — have been re-emerging as an archetype. First coined in 1988, himbos are now popularly characterized by their beefiness, stupidity and kindness.
Now, you might think the term himbo is offensive because it seems like the male equivalent of a bimbo. But in actuality, himbos cannot be equated to bimbos.
The word bimbo has an inherently derogatory connotation. “Bimbo” brings up the image of a hot, vain, self-obsessed and infuriatingly idiotic airhead. Everything about a bimbo is spun in a negative light with their only redeeming quality, and thus only worth, being their sex appeal. The term bimbo was, and still is, a misogynistic symbol used to dehumanize and objectify women.
Himbo, on the other hand, has a very positive connotation — they are typically thought of as compassionate and respectful. Himbos are still recognized as hot and masculine, sure, but they’re also humanized instead of being objectified.
Also, their stupidity isn’t the focal point as it is with bimbos. If they are dumb, it’s endearing rather than looked down upon.
The concept of himbos has become popularized because it is the antithesis of toxic masculinity — all the masculinity without the toxicity. Himbos show us that masculinity can be healthy, and is not intrinsically linked to aggressive traits. And that is exactly why himbos are so important.
Kronk from “The Emperor’s New Groove” is one notable example. He is well-built and extremely muscular, and though he is Yzma’s villainous henchman, he is shown to be non-violent, non-aggressive and non-malevolent.
He is only susceptible to Yzma’s orders because, for some bizarre reason, he genuinely cares about her. He is also gender non-conforming in his passion for cooking and baking, a traditionally feminine hobby.
Another example is Jason Mendoza from “The Good Place.” He is undeniably fit and beautiful, as well as dumb, but he is also incredibly respectful and optimistic. Later in the series, he develops a relationship with Janet, who is neither human nor robot.
Though the running gag of the show and Jason’s own stupidity lead him to call Janet a girl despite them not being a girl, he is always supportive and well-intentioned, giving them space when they need it.
He later does catch on, and remembering Janet’s gender preference allows him to figure out that Bad Janet was posing as good Janet. At the end of the same episode, when their mutual comrade Michael says, “Let’s go get our girl!” Jason corrects him by saying, “Not a girl,” in Janet’s absence.
Jason also has a childlike exuberance for the Jaguars football team and quarterback Blake Bortles, but his passion doesn’t come from a need to prove his masculinity by indulging in hypermasculine, competitive sports. The team is actually quite bad, and he simply enjoys it for the sake of enjoying it. Similarly to the way he enjoys DJing and refers to himself as “pre-successful” despite his lack of DJ skills.
By being dumb, himbos are also the exact opposite of the misogynistic characterization most of the “geek” and “brilliant a—hole” tropes fall into. Time and time again, we’ve seen how movie tropes have gone sour in real life.
The loveable and brilliant boy becomes the sexist jerk in your film class who mansplains everything to you. They’re the nerds and “nice guys” who always get the girl at the end of the movie and have been characterized as safe.
Well, they just become straight-up incels, disguising their ulterior motives and stroking their egos by playing nice. In the hands of men, intellectualism often becomes dangerous.
Himbos being dumb doesn’t diminish the character — rather, it makes them safe, comfort characters because we know for a fact that they’re not predators. With himbos, there is no competition, ulterior motives, mansplaining or gaslighting. They’re not acting nice to take advantage of you — for one, they’re too dumb to premeditate that and for another, they’re too pure.
After all, the most important pillar of himboism is respect for women.
In fact, a lot of the time, himbos aren’t even dumb, just oblivious or gullible. If we’re talking non-traditional knowledge, himbos actually have high emotional intelligence.
Jason, though lacking the education to articulate his feelings, is also shown to be perhaps the most emotionally intelligent of the four main characters, offering friends Chidi and Eleanor relationship advice and helping Tahani with her confidence.
And though our favorite avenger, Thor, is more intelligent than the average himbo, his respect for women and occasional lack of common sense puts him up at the top of the himbo pack.
He, too, is self-aware and in touch with his emotions — after his exile, he learns to be more humble, mature and in better control of his anger. And though he was raised to be king, he eventually passes the title to Valkyrie, understanding she is a better fit to lead Asgard.
In short, a himbo is the ideal man: safe to be around, masculine but not threatening, respectful and happy-go-lucky. They’re just living and enjoying life as it is, and that in itself is a breath of fresh air.
I believe that being called a himbo is the highest compliment — who wouldn’t want to be on the same level as the God of Thunder? But the sad reality is that there aren’t many himbos out there, and it can be hard to achieve complete himbofication.
To the men reading this, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance. Being a himbo is still something you can and should strive toward.
At the very least, you can adopt the principles himbos have exhibited: non-threatening and non-toxic masculinity, pure intentions, less emphasis on intellectualism, optimism in life, kindness and, above all, respect for women.