Fashion Factors is a weekly column about how style intersects with the broader world.
When this spring’s Met Gala, with its theme of “gilded glamour,” collided with the leaked draft of the Supreme Court docket’s Roe v. Wade ruling, there was loads of speak in regards to the cognitive dissonance of the 2 occasions—celebrities preening in couture whereas the rollback of abortion rights loomed. However, after all, the timing was simply an unlucky coincidence, not a manifestation of some type of post-Roe mindset in style.
Extra jarring is perhaps the best way that since then, style—within the wake of a brand new, extra circumscribed world for ladies—has accelerated the rise of a brand new (outdated) archetype: the bimbo. On TikTok, self-described followers of the development congregate on #BimboTok, partaking in “Math is Laborious” Barbie cosplay in a repudiation of the girlboss. Onscreen, there’s a sudden prevalence of initiatives like Peacock’s Angelyne, Hulu’s Pam & Tommy, and, arising, Greta Gerwig’s much-ballyhooed Barbie, which, if the paparazzi footage are something to go on, will embrace loads of pink matching units.
On sure corners of Instagram, Anna Nicole Smith and aughts-era Paris Hilton are held up as avatars. And on crimson carpets, celebrities are choosing a method that’s been dubbed “Barbiecore” (suppose: Anne Hathaway’s sizzling pink take a look at Valentino couture, Kim Kardashian’s monochrome bubblegum ensemble, or Megan Fox’s abbreviated outfit from the premiere of Machine Gun Kelly’s documentary (titled—what else?—Life in Pink). The hallmarks of the look, past a number of pink, are uncovered midriffs, sparkly mini luggage, and elephantine platforms that evoke Barbie’s credo of “equipment offered individually.” If femininity is a efficiency, these girls are doing it with jazz fingers.
When our bodily autonomy is being stripped away, you may anticipate to see a resurgence of unambiguously empowering style: strong-shouldered fits, perhaps, or Phoebe Philo-style minimalism. As an alternative, at the moment’s plethora of body-con, bedazzled, sizzling pink every part appears calculated to provide a second-wave feminist a conniption (with the doable exception of Gloria Steinem, who supplied “Bimbo” as an early suggestion for the title of Ms. journal). In regressive eras, style tends to backslide into earlier, much less liberated instances: take a look at how the ’80s noticed the fluffy, ruffly excessive femininity of Christian Lacroix take over, or the retrograde prairie-chic appears to be like that marked the start of the Trump administration. Each reactionary epoch will get the style it deserves.
This wave of yassified Stepford type comes together with some backwards-looking societal traits, like celebrities normalizing crash diets. (To be honest, the obsession with “clear consuming” and “wellness” that dominated the late 2010s was arguably equally damaging, simply gussied up in prettier language.) It appears that evidently many people are retreating into the armor of a stereotype as a type of safety: You need lockstep hyper-femininity? We’ll do you one higher.
However as Marilyn Monroe or Elle Woods may let you know, lurking within the coronary heart of the bimbo is a revolutionary spirit. Certain, you could possibly learn the look, and the pose, as a capitulation to social stress. Or, contemplating that will of the ladies sporting this type are achieved, sensible, and savvy, perhaps it’s a stealth type of mutiny. The dumbed-down, dressed-up persona is a Pandora’s field, or a MacGuffin, concealing a molten core of rage. As my buddy Laurel Pantin not too long ago wrote in her publication, “When you’re going to punish me for being a girl anyway, I’m going to be the silliest, brattiest, potty-mouthed no-no of a girl you’ve ever seen. I’ll be the dumbest bitch on earth! The place’s my crown!”
That is perhaps the battle cry of the revamped style bimbo: Underestimate me—and my glittery pink platforms—at your peril.
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