Updated: Aug 22, 2022
Intro (what is a himbo?)
I’m sure most of you know what a himbo is. If you don’t, here’s a brief summary. For a man to qualify as a himbo, he must meet all of the following three requirements: he must be buff and pretty, dumb, and respectful to women. A himbo must be beefy enough to pose a hypothetical physical threat and to take up space in a room, but dumb enough to remain non-threatening. He must be respectful enough to be adequately cautious around women— aware of the power he holds as a man, and consciously choosing not to abuse it. He should also be pretty enough to be an object of affection.
Himbos have been around for decades, despite their recent-ish surge in popularity. On paper, it doesn’t take much to qualify, but the cultural and social importance of himbos are large shoes to fill.
In our society, there’s always been a sort of unanimous and unspoken attraction to himbos. The way that Tom Holland (who is himself almost a himbo-- I’ll elaborate on this later) is objectively hot, himbos are objectively an attractive kind of man, and a good kind of man to be attracted to. I consider them to be one of the most powerful binding social forces of our known world— so let’s dive into why exactly that is.
There are a couple men that are inevitably mentioned when people talk about himbos: guys like Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove, Hercules from Disney’s 1997 Hercules, or Fred from Scooby Doo. However, I enjoyed neither The Emperor's New Groove nor Hercules and I’ve never seen Scooby Doo, so I’ll remove these three from my personal list.
For my own selection of popular favorites, I have to credit Kristoff from Frozen, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and practically every live-action Disney Channel teen boy (I could write a whole other article on just this). Female himbos, while a minority, aren’t nonexistent either: probably the most famous female himbo we have to date is Scorpia from Netflix’s She-Ra. She fits every category of being a himbo, possibly better than many of the aforementioned men, and this guarantees her a spot in the Himbo Hall of Fame.
There’s also something to be said for the almost-himbo. There’s plenty of fictional characters that come close to the finish line, but are missing one key trait. This includes Andrew Clark, the jock from The Breakfast Club, who is buff, conventionally attractive, and stupid but isn’t quite respectful enough to take the cake (being good to women is by far the most important aspect of himbo-ism, as it defines why so many people are attracted to them). Or Soos from Gravity Falls, who’s slightly dense and deeply kind, but not pretty or buff enough to be a himbo (also a very important qualification— a key reason why himbos are so beloved).
The existence of the anti-himbo is undeniable, and it seems important to shout out some media figures that are the polar opposites of himbos. For the sake of this article, we’re going to discount the rule that an anti-himbo must be disrespectful to women, because that would rule out quite a few notable men. The anti-himbo of our dreams is still a good man, and he tends to remain attractive, despite his lack of relation. The anti-himbo is skinny, smart, non-threatening (namely because of his lack of physical prowess or social status) and usually kind of dirty and greasy (which I say with love). This list might include Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon, who’s handsome, not big and strong, and very intelligent. Or Bill Cipher, who’s not even human, and whose attractiveness is based purely off of his intellectual capability, his mannerisms, and Alex Hirsch’s infamous voice. These characters operate from their brains above all else, instead of their hearts or their biceps (such as himbos do). The anti-himbo is the kind of man that the internet gets gender envy from, and the general public believes they could take in a fight. By himself, he’s an excellent genre of man, and he works even better in juxtaposition with his distant himbo cousins.
This is where Tom Holland comes in. He doesn’t immediately strike the viewer as a himbo-- he’s far from stupid, and he’s not that big. But while he doesn’t fit all the necessary categories, and therefore cannot qualify, the kind of attractiveness that he carries is very similar to the kind that himbos carry. The common denominator here is his goodness. Tom, along with your average himbo, presents himself as a genuinely good person, and that’s 90% of his draw. Tom Holland’s public presence is refreshingly non-problematic, and in almost every one of his characters he works to be seen as the kind of man you could take home to meet the parents. This, I believe, is the overarching importance of himbos, as well as the cause for their recent boom in popularity.
The main appeal of himbos is their power (they’re big and strong, as well as male in America-- that’s a ton of privilege). They’re given power, and they don’t abuse it. It’s both their conscious choice not to (respectful to women) and the fact that they’re incapable of fully making use of it (kind of stupid) that makes them the ideal partner to so many individuals. In a world of Draco Malfoys, Jokers, and Edward Cullens, it’s easy to get swept up in the marketed allure of mean and capable men. But it’s also very easy to see why so many people are attracted to the kind of person that, on a very basic level, can’t hurt them.
Perhaps himbos are the safe choice. But even if this is the case, there are so many people in this world that would enjoy sustaining long term relationships with capable, gentle, and supportive men that we can start to make a genuine attraction to himbos socially accepted, or even praised.