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The term was originally used in the United States as early as 1919 for an unintelligent or brutish male.
The stereotypical bimbo appearance has become that of an attractive woman, often blonde and with a curvaceous figure and large breasts, possibly wearing heavy makeup and revealing clothing. However, none of these traits are strictly needed for a person to be considered a bimbo. The common inclusion of blonde hair is due to the widely held European belief that blonde hair is beautiful. It is sometimes associated with women who dye their hair blonde indicating that physical attractiveness is more important to them than other, non-physical traits and as an extension to the "dumb blonde" stereotype.
The word bimbo derives itself from the Italian bimbo, derived from bambino, a masculine-gender term that means "(male) baby" or "young (male) child" (bimbo's feminine equivalent is bimba). Use of this term began in the United States as early as 1919, and was a slang word used to describe an unintelligent or brutish man.
It was not until the 1920s that the term bimbo first began to be associated with females. In 1920, composer Frank Crumit recorded "My Little Bimbo Down on the Bamboo Isle", in which the term "bimbo" is used to describe an island girl of questionable virtue. The 1929 silent film Desert Nights describes a wealthy female crook as a bimbo and in The Broadway Melody, an angry Bessie Love calls a chorus girl a bimbo. The first use of its female meaning in the Oxford English Dictionary was in 1929, from the scholarly journal American Speech where the definition was given simply as "a woman".
Bimbos in popular culture
- "Bimbo (song)" — in this case, "bimbo" refers to a little boy.
- In the 1990s, the Danish band Aqua used the word bimbo in their major hit "Barbie Girl," using the dumb blonde archetype as well ("I'm a blonde bimbo girl."). It was noted by Mattel in the legal conflict against Aqua and their record company for the representation of the popular Barbie doll.
- In 2012, Bridgit Mendler used the word bimbo in the song "Forgot to Laugh".
- Bimbo was Betty Boop's dog friend.
- A beauty contest game called Miss Bimbo is an online game in which players attempt to use virtual characters to win contests, earn IQ points and impress virtual boys, through makeovers, clothing, exercise, and the purchase of operations such as facelifts and breast implants. Although the game itself does not promote such activities in real life and is often viewed as a parody, it has received condemnation in the media from parent groups, especially in Europe.
- The term "'mimbo", to mean a male bimbo, was first coined in the episode "The Stall" of American sitcom Seinfeld. in the context of Elaine Benes's boyfriend, Tony (Dan Cortese).
- Valley girl and Essex girl carry similar connotations to a young bimbo or "bimbette", but are non-synonymous.
- Kogal or, more correctly, kogyaru and ganguro carry similar connotations as a Japanese version of a "valley girl" or bimbo.
- Encyclopedia of Hair, pp. 149-151
- "Etymonline". Retrieved 2011-11-01.
- Oxford English Dictionary, 1919
- "Slang of the 1920's". Retrieved 2010-06-23.
- "Aqua Now Faces Lawsuit Over "Barbie Girl"". MTV News. 12 September 1997. Retrieved 2010-06-23.[dead link]
- "Parents upset over online Miss Bimbo game for children". Taipei Times. 2008-03-30. Retrieved 2008-04-01.