It’s 90 degrees outside and you’re too hot and exhausted from a long day’s work to prepare a proper meal. Fortunately, you’re home alone, no kids, no roommates, no partners, and therefore you can eat whatever you want for dinner, without having to consider the food preferences or nutritional needs of others. You grab a bag of popcorn, a glass of wine, some bread, some cheese, and a piece of chocolate, and settle on the couch for an evening of eating and watching TV. Is there anything more glorious? Welcome to “girls’ dinner.”
According to TikTok, where the trend has more than 30 million visits, girl dinner is akin to an aesthetically pleasing Lunchable: a cleverly arranged stack of snacks that, when consumed in high enough volume, constitutes a meal. Or so goes the thought.
Typical girls’ dinners might include some sort of fruit, a block of cheddar cheese, sliced salami, a sleeve of fancy crackers, and a plate of olives. Girls’ dinner is “both chaotic and plentiful,” as one TikTok commenter comments put it, without the need for the foresight, cooking or plating that a real meal requires. As another commenter observed: “There’s no preparation, just vibes.”
The trend started when Olivia Maher, an assistant showrunner currently out of work due to the writers’ strike, posted a video on TikTok this spring praising the virtues of a humble medieval peasant-inspired montage that she called “girls’ dinner.”
“I think the concept of a girls’ dinner came to me while I was on a hot girl ride with another friend of mine,” said Ms Maher, 28. from his apartment in Los Angeles.
She said that she and her friend had been discussing the unparalleled perfection of bread and cheese as a meal in itself, as simple as it is satisfying. “We love eating that way, and it feels like a girl’s dinner because we do it when our boyfriends aren’t around and we don’t have to have what is a ‘typical dinner,’ essentially, with one protein and one vegetable and one starch. Maher said.
He decided to premiere the phrase on TikTok. “This is my dinner,” says Ms. Maher in the video, turning her phone camera to show her spread: pieces of butter and cheese, part of a baguette, some grapes and gherkins, and a glass of red wine. “I call this girl dinner.” Since she posted it in May, the 15-second clip has been viewed more than a million times.
Alana Laverty, a 28-year-old food content creator from London who adopted the phrase immediately, said she started making what she called “snack plates” for dinner during summers, when it was too hot to even consider turning on a stove.
“I feel like cooking entire meals gets so repetitive and exhausting, especially in the summer,” Ms. Laverty said. “When dinner came around, we’d just choose a main cheese or a main protein and get a loaf of fresh bread and throw it all on the plate. It is now a very normal way of eating for me.”
Laverty started posting her beautifully arranged snack plates to TikTok last year. When the girl-dinner trend started to take off, she recalled, “I thought, ‘I’ve never resonated with anything else.'”
“There was this feeling of, ‘My God, I’m not the only one,’” Laverty said. “I love anything that celebrates something that all women are doing, but not all of us know we’re doing.”
some have he pointed that grazing is not enough to satisfy their own appetites and, in some cases, may be masking eating disorders.
“‘Girls Dinner’ more like girl, go to the doctor, you have erectile dysfunction,” one user wrote on TikTok.
But supporters are quick to point out that girls’ dinners are not about deprivation. Women have long been programmed to view food as the enemy, but the girl’s dinner trend is all about embracing the simple joy of snacks as meals. The girls’ dinner represents a conscious choice to opt out of the tyranny of cooking and doing the dishes. It’s also, conveniently, the answer to fridge cleaning day.
And while the trend may sound suspiciously like tapas, mezze, or a charcuterie board, girl’s dinner differs in one key way: Unlike a variety of Super Bowl-style appetizers, girl’s dinner is most often prepared by one person, for the consumption and enjoyment of a single person.
“I remember trying to prepare meals and just couldn’t do it,” Ms. Laverty said. “You could try, but why not open a bunch of jars and indulge your taste buds in the same way?”
Seema Rao, an art historian in Cleveland, sees a historical connection between girls’ dinner and entrenched gender norms that dictate that women prepare a hearty meal for their husbands every night.
“The idea of cooking dinner was historically a women’s job in the home,” said Ms. Rao, 49. “What I like about girls’ dinner is that it takes away the idea that you have to cook anything – you literally make it. So you go from a position where the production of food is what makes it good and makes you a valid woman, to the idea that having food is what makes you a valid woman”.
At least one nutritionist has given his seal of approval to the trend Kathrine Kofoed, 27, a nutritionist and health coach in Portland, Oregon, suggested that part of the reason the girls’ dinner was being so well received was its affirmation of the way women already eat: “It’s a nice departure from diet culture, and all these rigid expectations of what food should be.”
“I see a lot more problems for people who overeat and restrict and then maybe binge, or just have this very complicated and often messy relationship with food,” said Ms Kofoed, noting the benefits of finding “more joy and pleasure in food. foods that we are eating”.
Perhaps the most important thing about girls’ dinner is that you don’t have to be a girl to enjoy it.
“My friends and I joked that it’s a girls’ dinner, but anyone can have it,” Maher said. “But it’s for the girls, gays and them.”
You might be wondering what a “guys dinner” would look like instead. “Go to your local grocery store at 6:30 p.m. and stand behind a single guy and see what’s in his basket,” comedian Brian Lee observed on Tik Tok. “Frozen pizza, cold cuts, fries, no veggies.”
For Ms. Maher, it’s less about the content of the meal than the feeling that surrounds it. “The girls’ dinner is a dizzying experience,” she said. “You could be eating a slice of frozen pizza, but you might also have a glass of wine and some grapes to go with it. And you are so pleased with yourself. You’re like, ‘I barely worked for this and it feels like an indulgence. That’s what makes it a girls’ dinner.”