How The Once-Lighthearted “Girl Dinner” Trend Has Evolved Into Something We Should Be Concerned About

A French woman with a giant baguette in tow and six bottles of wine cached in a metal basket walks down the sidewalk in Paris in a 1940s dress and dirty apron. This black and white photo has been circulating social media with the caption “Girl Dinner.”

By Anna Pingel3 min read

Over the summer, the trend of creating and posting “girl dinner” became popularized by women all over the country. While this trend started as an eclectic meal comprised of several small plates or thrown-together snack foods, its scope has now expanded into different territory. Dieticians have also started to raise red flags after seeing the direction this trend is quickly going.

What Social Media Says

The girl dinner trend has over 1.6 billion views on TikTok. Users from all over the world are sharing their girl dinners. Some are pretty well-rounded, if simple; others are significantly lacking in any nutritional substance. There is even a filter on TikTok that provides you with three randomized options to make your girl dinner. Seaweed, sourdough bread, and a popsicle was the result for user @lilcecesworld. Cookies, toast, and espresso showed up for user Alcohol also tends to play a significant part in many girl dinner posts. 

Ironically, TikTok user @brookelyn_norman points out that while she really wants girl dinner, she’s forced to make a balanced, nutritious meal for her blue-collar husband because he’s been at work all day and needs it. And yet…does she not need the same nutrients? How is it fair to women’s bodies to expect them to survive off a cube of cheese and a glass (or bottle) of wine?

TikTok influencer @halleykate notes that while girl dinner started as a cute, light meal, it has now become videos or photos of girls emphasizing how little they eat or how unhealthily they eat. Kudos to her for calling that out.

The Skinny Lie

The underlying, unspoken concept is that it’s elegant for women to survive off tiny amounts of food, with a focus on alcohol and simple carbohydrates, which offer practically zero nutritional value and, if not paired with healthy fats and proteins, will result in issues such as insulin resistance and vitamin deficiencies. Since the obsession with emaciated fashion models of the 1960s, females have been bombarded with this concept; mid-century smoking, for example, was marketed as an appetite reducer while simultaneously being branded as super chic. Not mentioned was the fact that smoking causes a host of physical issues. The cultural emphasis on external appearance instead of internal health means that women are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to nutrition.

The cultural emphasis on external appearance instead of internal health means that women are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to nutrition.

The rise of supermodels like Twiggy in the 1960s paved the way for a distorted view of what body type constitutes elegance and how food should be used to achieve these goals. In the following decades, the topic of nutrition and how to support your body was not the point of discussion; instead, “health” conversations revolved around how to limit certain food groups to burn fat fast. 

In the iconic 2006 movie The Devil Wears Prada, fashion assistant Emily (who is already incredibly thin) is trying to drop weight to fit into impossibly tight clothes for a major fashion event. She shares with her coworker, “It's for Paris, I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything, and when I feel like I'm about to faint, I eat a cube of cheese. I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight.” While I’m sure comments like Emily’s are not uncommon, it’s definitely a girl dinner type of approach.

It’s important to briefly mention that the answer to this is not the body positivity movement, which goes too far in the opposite direction by promoting obesity and glorifying eating copious amounts of unhealthy food. Neither overeating nor undereating is beneficial for women’s bodies.

Instead of Girl Dinner, Woman Dinner Is What Your Body Deserves

You deserve more than girl dinner! 

Let’s talk about “woman dinner.” If you’re a woman, your body has unique nutritional needs. Each meal should consist of three critical categories: a substantial amount of protein (>25g), a complex carbohydrate, and a healthy fat. There are thousands of delicious combinations of foods that easily provide all of these three categories.

If you regularly make yourself girl dinner, you also might find yourself not only snacking once or twice instead of eating one full, nutritious meal, but actually loading up more than you might have wanted on the carbohydrates, sugars, and alcohol. Maybe you’ll end up going to the fridge or pantry again in a few hours for more snacks when you find yourself still hungry due to the lack of fiber, fats, and proteins. It’s easy to have cheese, a microwave bag of popcorn, and a bottle of wine while watching several episodes of your favorite show. But does that truly help your body? In the long term, investing slightly more time in preparing something simple (and then watching your favorite show) will benefit you in the long run, allowing you to enjoy more relaxed, healthy evenings.

Woman dinner takes care of the body; girl dinner robs women of real, balanced nutrition.

It’s true, woman dinner requires slightly more effort than throwing a cube of cheese and a popsicle on a plate. But you don’t have to be making Michelin-star meals to be getting great nutrition. For example, one of my go-to meals is putting chicken breast, broccoli, and sweet potato on a sheet pan, sprinkling with olive oil and seasonings, and baking. It takes less than 15 minutes to prepare, tastes great, and provides me with tons of vitamins and nutrients. For some great starter suggestions, here’s a link – these recipes will provide you with great nutrients and taste. If you look online or on social media, you’ll find hundreds of easy recipes like this that will help you navigate how to best feed your body.

Woman dinner takes care of the body; girl dinner robs women of real, balanced nutrition. Let’s make woman dinner the goal, providing our bodies with real, holistic nutrition that enables us to be the best physical version of ourselves that we possibly can, equipping our bodies and minds for work, relationships, fun, growth, and responsibility.

Closing Thoughts

While the “girl dinner” trend started off as a lighthearted way to relate to other women who simply felt too lazy in the moment to make a real meal, it has now evolved into something we should genuinely be concerned about. Women (and young girls who shouldn’t be on social media, to begin with) are now taking the trend to heart and embracing this way of living as if it were aspirational rather than something to be embarrassed about. It’s not glamorous or cute to starve your body of nutrients, and it’s high time we recognize that fact.

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