The offensive phrase bingo wings denotes the folds of loose skin or fat which hang from the undersides of a person’s upper arms—cf. also a crude phrase: ‘to see a woman’s breakfast’.
Those folds of loose skin are so named because they are common in older women, who are regarded as the type of person most likely to play bingo—as explained in the text containing the earliest occurrence of the phrase that I have found, Toning up for Mrs. USA, published in the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine, USA) of Wednesday 5th August 1992—reprinted from the Orange County Register (California, USA) of Friday 31st July 1992:
To trim, shape and tone Sandra Earnest’s 1 muscles, Cord Prettyman has put the Mrs. USA contestant on a five-week shape-up program at Absolute Workout in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
“We’re working on her ‘Bingo wings,’” Prettyman said, his joking reference to the fat deposits common in women’s upper arms, fat deposits that flap in the breeze when they raise them as they shout, “Bingo!”
1 According to Church News, published by the Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) on Saturday 24th July 1993:
[Sandra] Earnest, 44, of the Laguna Niguel 1st Ward, Laguna Niguel California Stake, was crowned Mrs. USA 1993 on Aug. 15, 1992, in Plano, Texas.
The second-earliest occurrence of the phrase that I have found is from A week of hotels, Henley and horse riding – even a party animal needs to swap rock’n’roll for R&R now and then, by the English broadcaster and model Sara Cox (born 1974), published in The Guardian (London and Manchester, England) of Friday 28th June 2002:
During what’s been the most civilised seven days of recent years a request comes in to write a piece abut [sic] my week […].
Tuesday was the usual trip to the gym, to work on the “bingo wings” – the attractive upper-arm bit that wobbles when old ladies wave and shout for a full house.
Elizabeth Withey used the phrase in Medium … or large?, published in the Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) of Saturday 29th October 2005—the author was writing about the U.S. actress Patricia Arquette (born 1968) in the television series Medium:
In contrast to so many of TV’s leading ladies, Arquette actually has body fat—a little here, a little there, a little everywhere.
On Internet message boards, Medium watchers are trying to make sense of Arquette’s “abnormal” body normalcy. E-whisperers wonder if the mom-of-two’s belly is jiggling because she has another bun in the oven.
Maybe she is [pregnant], maybe she’s not, but does it matter? Must there be an excuse for a female body that isn’t People 2 perfect? Must there be an explanation for a pot belly, a flabby butt or a wee touch of bingo wings?
What about this: maybe Arquette’s less-than-firm form is—wait for it—natural, and just the way she wants it.
2 This refers to People, a U.S. glossy magazine.
The following is from a reader’s response to Elizabeth Withey’s article—published in the Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) of Saturday 5th November 2005:
□ I just finished your article […] and I thank you for your brand of thinking. […] I spent from 1985 through 1998 trying to uphold a “body image” to the point of ill health and medical complications. I am pleased to say today I feel fine. I am now sporting a little pot belly, bingo wings and a touch of cellulite. […] We don’t have to be pencil thin to be beautiful!
The following list is from If you know squats, you’ll know proper exercise form, by Chris Huth, a personal trainer, published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA) of Monday 19th December 2011:
Reader feedback: In response to my Nov. 28 triceps column, I’ve received a few new names from readers for “batwings,” those flaps of skin that hang down from some people’s upper arms. I thought I’d share them with you: bingo wings, Ethel Merman 3 arms, hi Janes, water wings, and my new favorite, flesh flags.
3 Ethel Merman (Ethel Agnes Zimmermann – 1908-1984) was a U.S. actress and singer.