'You could eat #GirlDinner... or you could just grow up.' 

The latest TikTok food trend is the 'girl dinner'. Basically, this refers to a snack plate made for the consumption and enjoyment of one person. 

A couple of slices of bread with tomatoes, cheese and olives on the side? That's girl dinner. 

Crackers, jam, and cheese? Girl dinner. 

Chips, blueberries, and ham? Yes, again, that is girl dinner. 

The New York Times explains: 

"Girl dinner is "both chaotic and filling," as one TikTok commenter put it, requiring none of the forethought, cooking or plating demanded by an actual meal. As another commenter observed: It's "no preparation just vibes".

Girl dinner started when one TikTok creator posted a video saying that she eats like a 'medieval peasant' and displaying an assortment of cheese, jar pickles, and bread that were sitting on her countertop, mostly still in the packaging. 

@liviemaher #girldinner #medievaltiktok ♬ original sound - Olivia Maher

The trend has since rapidly gone viral with even Nigella Lawson weighing in on the love for an assortment of eating little snack foods for dinner by Tweeting that she calls them "Picky Bits". 

I know it's supposed to be cute, I know it's supposed to be an expression of self-care but I simply can not get over how extremely... sad the whole thing feels. 

From the outset, I should say that as somebody who has experienced various eating disorders throughout their life and now has a deep and immovable hatred of any kind of diet trends or culture, I am probably more sensitive than most to food trends of any variety. 


But as far as I can tell, most girl dinners are just smaller than normal dinners, which concerns me. 

I despise the promotion of any meal that is actively suggesting eating less. Replacing dinner with a small handful of crackers and a wedge of cheese with fruit just doesn't seem to be totally substantial – at least, if I ate any of these plates for dinner, I know that I would be waking up at 4am feeling like I was going to vomit with hunger.

Listen to The Quicky talk about Ozempic and diet culture below. Article continues after podcast. 

As has been pointed out by users on TikTok, too often these kinds of obsessions can just act as masks for disordered eating. As a trend, girl dinner feels similar to when creators started making 'What I eat in a day' content or videos about pumping sugar-free syrups into giant cups of water in the corner of the internet now dubbed #WaterTok. Girl dinner, as much as it claims that it doesn't, seems to enter deprivation territory. 

But my honest gut feeling about girl dinner is that... we should probably just grow up a bit. 

Grouping the concept of small snacky dinners as a 'girl' thing feels belittling. Girl dinner feels like a diminutive, a bird-like meal where we pick at little morsels. It feels like we are, once again, defining femininity by smallness. 

It also kind of feels like we're defining femininity by helplessness.  

Girl dinner also feels like we're playing down our capacity to just be adult humans. The suggestion being that when male partners are away, we don't really have it in ourselves to make a substantial meal. It reminds me of painful comments from female friends where they happily explain that without their male partners around they "just forget to eat!" What is the expectation here? That without men around to support us, most women will just wilt away and die? 


Watch: Brigid Delaney talks about trying a 101 day detox diet on No Filter. Article continues after podcast. 

Video via Mamamia.

Of course, I know there are valid reasons why girl dinner has become such a popular concept. 

For a start, it's a reflection of the intense work culture that leaves us feeling depleted at the end of weekdays and largely unable to think clearly about tedious activities like grocery shopping and searching for recipes. But instead of celebrating the girl dinner, this just leads me to believe that it's a symptom of a profoundly sad cycle of work intruding on personal hours that should be protected. 

Then there are broader social reasons that people are using to argue for the value of girl dinner. 

In the aforementioned New York Times article, an art historian draws the connection between girl dinner and "entrenched gender norms that dictate women prepare a hearty meal for their husbands every evening." In this sense, the historian argues that girl dinner represents some kind of liberation, a break from supporting and caring for other people. But in this case, again, I would argue that girl dinner is inherently depressing.


Is the implication that if women don't have people around to support and care for then we simply stop caring and supporting, including for ourselves?

Cooking for yourself can be a pleasure and even when it isn't, it can be incredibly easy. My version of girl dinner is dumping a bunch of vegetables into soup noodles and coating them with enough chilli oil to kill a dog. It takes 15 minutes. 

Images of the girl dinner remind me of the recent internet trend of Chinese people trashing white people food by eating what was dubbed the 'lunch of suffering' and showing photos of cut-up apples, bland sandwiches and plates of carrot and hummus. To a nation that is accustomed to hefty spices and complex, punchy flavours, this food is a novelty – something to be laughed and marvelled at. 

The girl dinner is the women's meal of suffering. Even if we are eating it occasionally, it's not something worth celebrating. It's just a boring insight into our most exhausted, least inspired, and totally resigned hours. 

Elfy Scott is an executive editor at Mamamia.

Image: TikTok/Canva.