So what do *you* call girl dinner?
Content Warning: This story briefly touches on disordered eating and its depiction on social media.
“This is my meal, I call this girl dinner!” a woman declares before launching into a haphazard choir as her voices, varying in pitch and cadence, vocalize “girl dinner” like there’s no tomorrow. Originally made by Olivia Maher, the term's first use was meant to describe her ideal meal: cheese, bread and some grapes. A grazing board! Since then, TikTok user Karma Carr uploaded an acapella remix, launching thousands of girl dinners.
Karma’s viral TikTok sound has become one of the most used (or at least that's what my FYP suggests) on the platform, mostly as the backdrop for graze-friendly meals haphazardly put together. Think leftovers from a massive charcuterie board, ramen made in under five minutes or soggy fries swimming in gravy. This trend’s very essence lies in how low-effort but satisfying your evening meal will be, something you probably won’t eat at the dinner table but devour in your bedroom at an ungodly hour.
@gabipcintra nois amaaaaaaa #girldinner #foryou #fyp #foryoupage ♬ original sound – karma carr
The beauty in this trend is how loosely it’s interpreted. Sometimes it means eating your favorite food as a reward or just making do with all the ingredients left in the pantry. It’s inventive and fun, with girls just experiment in the kitchen and making something they want to eat that evening, whether at 6PM sharp or 11:37PM. For others, it’s a healthy and balanced meal of vegetables and dip or a decadent fruit-and-protein smoothie bowl. TL;DR: girl dinner is whatever she wants it to be.
Of course, with such virality comes great memeability (and its randomized filter). So you get people taking the trend unseriously, showing that their evening munch hours mean swiping through Cillian Murphy photos or waiting for the premiere of Jung Kook on Suchwita. For die-hard collectors, girl dinner is her prized K-pop photocard and a Sonny Angel figurine in one bowl. But with a food-forward trend like this, it quickly turned dark. Soon after, girl dinner became the center of think pieces and the recipient of accusations that it promotes disordered eating.
Do I agree? Not really, but hear me out.
It’s highly understandable that, with social media, the girl dinner sound now has content of how little people eat. A bowl of unsalted almonds, chips and a can of soda—turning over to sleep the hunger off is supposedly girl dinner! And depending on how serious both the creator and the audiences are, it can look dangerous. Now, creators are sounding alarms on how the trend slowly morphed from evening meals into barely-filling concoctions. TikToker Halley Kate verbalizes the concern perfectly:
With diet culture and disordered eating remaining uphill battles for everyone—regardless of sex or gender—it’s no secret that many can misinterpret the trend’s darker iterations as a go-signal to not eat properly. Stephanie McNeal, for Glamour, asks Vanessa Rissetto, a registered dietitian and CEO of Culina Health, to weigh in. “Eating only pickles for dinner, drinking Coke Zero as your meal—this trend can fall into the disordered eating territory, especially when it comes to people promoting and applauding it,” she explains. “Remember, it's all about the messaging and who's delivering it.”
But given that many people know how to discern right from wrong, the trend isn’t inherently bad and it shouldn’t be that deep. Look, I get it. We can’t always have a filling dinner every night. Sometimes we settle with chips and call it a night. After all, the stress and the heavy city traffic rob people of the time and energy to whip up a reasonable meal, especially those who live independent lives. But that doesn’t mean it should be an everyday thing! That’s why the trend started with low-effort but fulfilling dinners; it indulges you and does not starve you.
Hopefully, everyone reverts to what girl dinner started: the simple joy of indulging at times. It shouldn’t dictate our everyday habits, that’s for sure. But let’s give women the space to let their guard down and chuck all expectations out the window. Create an environment devoid of pressure to be That Girl ™ whose after-work routine is extremely productive. No one is expected to whip something up like Emily Mariko, and that’s okay! Girl dinner is whatever you make it, even if it means adding some greens to balance out your drive-thru chicken nuggets.
So, what do you call girl dinner?
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver