These days, the internet often feels like a battleground for alpha males and soy boys. But there’s an alternate male archetype that exists in his own bubble, blissfully unaware of the heated debates around seed oils and testosterone levels.
He lifts weights not to intimidate, but because he thinks it’s fun. He tells dad jokes not to impress, but because he genuinely finds them hilarious.
Enter the himbo: an attractive man who’s not too bright. You can think of a himbo as a hybrid of a sexy nerd, gym rat, and high school heartthrob. He’s the antidote to the onslaught of fuckboys, incels, and toxic masculinity. He’s not going to write the next great American novel, but he might steal your girl by accident.
Some would say we’re living in the golden era of the himbo, but the term actually predates the internet itself. Read on to learn the history of himboism, how to spot one, and whether you should be offended or honored to be counted among them.
What Does ‘Himbo’ Mean?
“Himbo” is a slang term for a good-looking guy who’s buff, relatively unintelligent, and respectful to women. It’s a mashup of the words “him” and “bimbo.” (For the uninitiated, bimbo is a controversial term for an attractive-yet-aloof woman.)
The himbo is like a dumb jock with a soft side. What the himbo lacks intellectually, he makes up for with good manners and muscles. Put simply, a himbo is a harmless hunk of man meat.
The term himbo was coined in 1988 by Washington Post movie critic Rita Kempley to describe the archetype of juiced up, simple-minded male actors that dominated Hollywood. Her list of himbos included dudes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rambo, and Sylvester Stallone.
“They're bombshells with a Y chromosome,” she wrote.
Fast forward 30+ years, and himbos are still a staple in the pop culture lexicon. Think of Channing Tatum in Magic Mike or Chris Hemsworth in Thor: hunks with the self-awareness of a 12-year-old.
As with any internet slang, there isn’t an official definition for a himbo. However, the good folks from the internet have compiled a running list of characteristics:
- “Beefy, kind, and stupid”
- “Trusting and goes along with his instincts, usually from a place of optimism”
- “A dumbass with a heart of gold”
- “Pure souls who often have a core of genuine goodness and selflessness”
Himbos should not be confused with soy boys (feminized men) or simps (guys who shower women with attention in the hopes of getting some action.) Nor should they be confused with Chad-types, who are arrogant, aggressive, and hyper-masculine.
Instead, himbos are like the human male equivalent of golden retrievers: fun, loyal, and easy on the eyes.
Does a Himbo Have to Be Buff?
If we stick to Rita Kempley’s original definition of a himbo, then yes—himbos have to be buff. Specifically, Kempley notes that himbos exhibit characteristics such as “chest measurements that rival Dolly Parton’s” and “buns of iron.”
A himbo without bulging biceps and steel buns is just a nice guy.
Further, a himbo must be hairless, since body hair “would only detract from those hard-won ripples and bulges.” Finally, himbos are rarely, if ever, fully clothed. They prefer to think with their pants down and never shy away from a shirtless adventure.
Is It Offensive to Call Someone a Himbo?
The general consensus is that himbo isn’t a derogatory term, unlike the female version “bimbo.” Some people even say himbo is a term of adoration—a title to be worn with pride.
Other folks, however, aren’t so fond of the himbo renaissance. For instance, one Twitter user denounced the himbo obsession as ableist.
“I find fetishising someone’s supposed lack of intelligence to be predatory,” they wrote. “Why would you desire someone who seemingly has less power than you? Why is that sexy? Why is that different from preying on underage kids? It’s not.”
The tweeter was subsequently ratioed by users pointing out that they aren’t attracted to himbos because they’re dumb or vulnerable. Rather, they’re fond of the himbo’s simplicity, charm, and (of course) Hulk-like physique.
Himbos Are Here to Stay
If the online opinions of women are any indication, himbos should be a hot commodity for years to come, if not decades. What’s not to love about a dude in peak physical condition with the personality of a golden retriever?
There’s no shame in the himbo game: keep pumping iron, cracking dad jokes, and thank your lucky stars a journalist in the 80s paved a path for you to thrive.