Is TikTok’s “Girl Dinner” Trend Controversial Or Just Cute?

Content warning: This article discusses disordered eating in a way that some readers may find distressing. 
For many people, there comes a night every once in a while when a classic dinner just isn't the ticket. When you're too tired to cook, don't have enough money for takeaway or simply just don't feel like a regular, full-blown meal for whatever reason, you have to turn to the only other feasible alternative. Enter: a mini charcuterie/smorgasbord-style selection of foods that we can have all to ourselves.
This might look like you lounging at the kitchen counter with an open tub of hummus, a jar of olives, a hunk of cheese, a packet of crackers, a pile of prosciutto and a carton of strawberries, and behold, that's your dinner for the evening. And as someone who does this from time to time, I was pleasantly surprised to learn this phenomenon has a name. Christened by the world of food on TikTok, this funny little eating ritual has been dubbed "girl dinner" — and it even has a cute little theme song to boot!
Our love of charcuterie and grazing boards has grown over the past couple of years, and more often than not, you'll be able to find one at any party or event you might go to. For bigger events like a wedding, you might even turn an entire banquet table into one giant grazing board. Then of course there's the fact that a cheese board goes perfectly with a glass of wine, and so often becomes the go-to snack for happy hours everywhere.
And while here in Australia, we've turned this kind of meal into a singular category, grazing on a multiplicity of snacks is pretty typical fanfare in other parts of the world. One example is Spain, where tapas hail from, as well as other parts of Europe and the Mediterranean where these kinds of snack plates are extremely common.
So whether we're all just trying to channel our inner mindful-eating Euro-girl, or because sometimes a plate of snacks is just what we want in that moment, women everywhere seem to be choosing to opt for "girl dinners". Or at least finally admitting that they're having them.
@alanalavv Replying to @María GM thank you to everyone who commented ‘girl dinner’ on my snack plates and introduced me to the best concept / phrase ever 🫒🧡 #girldinner #snackplate #snackplates ♬ original sound - hanana
Of course, we have to address the obvious issue that a "girl dinner" may not be the best meal to have regularly, for a number of reasons. Depending on what you load your plate with, there's definite potential for it to be deficient, by which we mean, not enough food to keep you full. The other glaringly obvious issue is the size of your "girl dinner" and the amount of food you're eating. When you hear someone say all they're having for dinner is a collection of beautifully plated crackers and cheese with a handful of olives, it can raise concerns about someone's health and specifically disordered eating (which TikTok aims to take pretty seriously). The concept of an aesthetically curated meal that is only superficially satiating can give off diet culture energy, and for some, "girl dinners" might be problematic or even dangerous.
In some ways, we can counteract some of these concerns with the argument that this kind of 'girl dinner' actually flies in the face of certain aspects of diet culture. Plenty of the items on these plates — say cheese, chips and cured meats — are comfort foods that have plenty of caloric value. There's also something to be said for the fact that we've taken these special snacks that we crave and unabashedly decided to eat them whenever we feel like it — because we can!
For most women, TikTok's "girl dinners" are only an occasional treat that we're balancing out with our regular, full diet — and it's not all we eat. Some people on TikTok have even theorised that a "girl dinner" (as opposed to the antithetical "boy dinner", which is basically things like frozen pizzas, deli meats, chips — and no vegetables) doesn't necessarily have to mean a collection of small snacks. It can also constitute a cooked dinner that simply has multiple parts and a variety of sides, all spread out across multiple bowls and plates — because let's be honest, that's a super cute dinner idea as well.
At the end of the day, as long as you're eating full meals 99% of the time, "girl dinners" are cute, tasty, cheap and often involve absolutely zero effort to make. Sounds pretty good to me!
If you or anyone you know is struggling with disordered eating, please contact the Butterfly Foundation at 1800 33 4673. Support and information are available 7 days a week.
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