Okay, Okay, FINE, We'll Talk About 'Girl Dinner'

But trust me, we’re not going to be happy about it.

TikTok food trends, for better or worse, have a knack for bringing people together. The latest sensation tearing across the platform this summer is the concept of Girl Dinner. Yes, a welcomed gendering of a standard meal time. That is what's shaking up TikTok, and the rest of the internet, in 2023. We'll explain, but only because we have to.

With a hashtag that has over 345 million views on TikTok and even its own dedicated section on the Popeyes menu, it's a food trend that just can't be ignored. Now, before diving into why this label never needed to be created in the first place, let's briefly look at what constitutes a Girl Dinner.

What is Girl Dinner?

In a nutshell, Girl Dinner is a hodgepodge of available snacks and bites thrown together on a plate to comprise a full meal of finger foods. As the trend has grown in popularity, though, it seems even this definition is a little too rigid. The smattering of bites fit for a Girl Dinner might look like this TikTok, with a few cuts of cheese, some crackers, scrambled eggs, and a small portion of greens. It could also be like this TikTok featuring bread, cheese, and some grapes.

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Alternatively, Girl Dinner can also be the most low-budget, thrown-together meal possible—think cooked pasta with butter and cheese or tortilla chips and shredded cheese (i.e. microwave nachos). The main point is that Girl Dinner is extremely, therapeutically low effort and stems from just being too damn tired at the end of a long day to cook a "proper" meal.

This is, in many ways, just old habits dressed up with a new buzzword. Girl Dinner very similar to the recent rat snack trend in which people shared random ingredients found in their kitchens that they combine and snack on in private rather than eating publicly. One example of a "rat snack" is a slice of turkey and a slice of cheese both wrapped around a pickle.

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To fully drive home just how low effort and not really a thing the Girl Dinner trend is, you can take a look at Popeyes' version below. Popeyes' Girl Dinner menu consists of mashed potatoes with Cajun gravy, Homestyle Mac & Cheese, coleslaw, Cajun fries, red beans and rice, and a la carte biscuits. In short, the menu is identical to a list of Popeyes sides. (Props to the chain for capitalizing on the moment.)

Girl Dinner doesn’t need to be a thing

There are multiple issues with labeling this kind of meal a "girl dinner." As mentioned above, Girl Dinner is basically a gendered extension of the rat snack. Even if its name is being used semi-ironically, why it must carry the same energy as the now irritatingly overused phrase "girl boss" is beyond me.

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Take away the "girl boss/girl power/shit girls say" element and you're left with "I'm kind of broke, I don't feel like cooking, so this is what I'm eating for dinner." And that's perfectly fine. In fact, from that perspective, Girl Dinner looks very similar to the Depression Meal and the Struggle Meal, both of which also require minimal ingredients and effort. Deciding at the end of a long day not to cook a perfectly balanced dinner for oneself is a pretty universal occurrence.

It's not easy girl-bossing one's way through life, and the cute mess of a girl who just can't pull it together enough to cook a full meal might seem like the logical counterpoint to this existence, arranging dainty little snack portions on a plate so she can eat in comfort standing at the counter or lounging in front of the TV. But Girl Dinner is sort of a joke without a punchline. Is the gag that we're rejecting our role as the keeper of the household, or that we can't help ourselves but be delicate and cute in everything we do? Trust me, reading this deep into a TikTok trend is not the highlight of this staff writer's day, but I gotta pay for this bread and cheese somehow.

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In case it wasn't already clear, this author rejects the concept of Girl Dinner. I am a Girl Dinner maker, a Girl Dinner eater, but have I ever felt the feminine urge to label my creations this way? Nope, not really.

My mom often jokes that when she and my dad got together, he expected the stereotypical Mexican girl who makes tortillas and cleans the house. That's not what he got at all. And the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, so whatever poor sap happens to place a ring on this writer's finger had better be equipped with some cooking skills. Otherwise, it's Girl Dinner for the both of us.

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