‘Girl dinner’: The TikTok trend challenging societal norms

Girl dinner is a TikTok trend that embraces simple meals.

Girl dinner is a TikTok trend that embraces simple meals. Photo: Getty

‘Girl dinner’ is the latest TikTok food trend that is gaining legions of fans and a side of controversy.

In May, Olivia Maher made a video on TikTok saying she had come across a video on the platform where another girl had remarked that in medieval times peasants would only eat bread and cheese.

The other girl, whose video Maher could not find, said bread and cheese was her “ideal meal”, and Maher could relate.

She then showed what she was snacking on for dinner – bread, butter, cheese and some grapes.

“This is my dinner, I call this girl dinner or medieval peasant,” Maher said.

Maher wasn’t alone. Many people chimed in to say they also enjoyed eating simplistic dinners like this.

Many said they had other names for this kind of feast, like “picky tea” and “peasant’s feast”, but “girl dinner” stuck.


#girldinner #medievaltiktok

♬ original sound – Olivia Maher

What is ‘girl dinner’?

Girl dinner is basically just a plate of anything one wants.

It could be chips or crackers with cheese, some chopped-up fruit or vegetables with dips, bread, or leftovers from the other night.

It can be foods that pair well together, or a selection of things that typically don’t. That’s the beauty of girl dinner, it can be whatever you want it to be.

Food can be left in its original packaging after being taken out of the fridge, or it can be arranged on a plate or platter.


This girl dinner is also known as ✨hot girl plate✨

♬ original sound – hanana

“We love eating that way, and it feels like such a girl dinner because we do it when our boyfriends aren’t around and we don’t have to have what’s a ‘typical dinner’ — essentially, with a protein and a veggie and a starch,” Ms Maher told The New York Times.

Food content creator Alana Laverty also spoke to The New York Times and pointed out the simplistic nature of girl dinner had its benefits.

“I feel like cooking full meals just gets so repetitive and exhausting, especially in the summer,” Ms Laverty said.

“When dinner came around, we would just pick up one main cheese or one main protein and get a fresh loaf of bread and throw it all on the plate. It’s a really normal way of eating for me now.”


I would rather call this dinner “I need to finish everything that’s left in the fridge and can’t be frozen,” but “girl dinner” is fine too 🥗 – Dear viewers, this is just one meal that you see. Therefore, unless you’re my doctor, please refrain from diagnosing me and projecting your own issues onto me. You can watch my video “What I Eat in a Day” and understand that “girl dinner” can be part of a balanced diet🩵 I find it amusing that people who smoke, drink, and skip meals without concern are the ones criticizing me. But before pointing fingers, let’s start taking care of ourselves, thank you 💗 Let’s be kinder to one another and refrain from hurling accusations about mental disorders🥰 #fyp #girldinner

♬ original sound – hanana

Dietary concerns

What started out as a cute trend turned into a meme and then people got concerned.

Some people raised concerns about girl dinners lacking substance and calories.

There were also concerns raised about girl dinner promoting eating disorders and given the often lack of calories, a dietitian posed that it could promote the false idea that women need fewer calories than men.

“Promoting [these meals] as ‘girl dinner’ gives the impression that women need to have smaller portions or a special kind of meal compared to men,” dietitian Mackenzie Burgess told Health.

“This can lead women to have unhealthy body image concerns and increase the risk for eating disorders.”

She said the recommended calories for women and girls depends on a number of factors, like age, physical activity and nutrition goals.

Health pointed out that determining whether girl dinner, or other social media food and health trends, is healthy or not is hard, as these things aren’t black and white.

There are ways to definitely make sure girl dinner is not only wholesome, but also healthy, such as ensuring there are enough calories on the plate and there’s a good mix of lean protein, carbohydrates, healthy fat, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tackling gender norms

Historically, it has been the woman’s job to take care of dinner, to make sure it’s ready by the time her husband gets home.

Art historian Seema Rao made the case that girl dinner was challenging previous norms.

What I like about girl dinner is it takes away the idea that you have to cook anything: You just literally put it together,” she told The New York Times.

“So you go from a position where the production of the 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.”

She also elaborated on this on her TikTok, explaining that over the decades women have been expected to attract a husband, cook for him, even if they also work a job and remain thin.


Stitch with @Cass @Marissa Mullen changing beauty norms #arthistorytiktok #arthistory101 #arthistorytok#historytok #historytiktok #historytiktokers #malesgaze

♬ original sound – Seema R

Some women were “hardwired” to be a certain type of feminine, but now women embrace their bodies and they enjoy not cooking dinner every night because their goals are different, she said.

“They’re not trying to snag a man. They want to be strong and healthy and that is more about self-defining norms,” Ms Rao said.

“So women being proud of being strong or being proud that they’re not cooking dinner are signs that we are changing previous norms.”

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