It’s 90 degrees outside, and you’re too hot and exhausted from a long day at work to put together a proper meal. Luckily you’re home alone – no kids, no roommates, no partners – and so you can eat whatever you want for dinner without having to consider the dietary preferences or nutritional needs of others. You grab a bag of popcorn, a glass of wine, some bread, some cheese and a piece of chocolate, and settle into the couch for a night of eating and watching TV. Is there anything more glorious? Welcome to “girls dinner”.

According to TikTok, where the trend has more than 30 million views, a girl’s dinner is like an aesthetically pleasing Lunch: an artfully arranged pile of snacks that, when consumed in high enough volume, constitute a meal. Or so the thinking goes.

Typical girls’ dinners may include some kind of fruit, a block of cheddar, sliced ​​salami, a sleeve of fancy crackers and a plate of olives. Girls’ dinner is “both chaotic and filling,” as one TikTok commenter put it put it, requiring none of the forethought, cooking or dishing required by an actual meal. As another commentator observed: It’s “no preparation just a vibe”.

The trend started when Olivia Maher, an assistant showrunner currently out of a job due to the writers’ strike, posted a video on TikTok this spring extolling the virtues of a humble, medieval-peasant-inspired get-together she called a “girl’s dinner.”

“I think the concept of a girls’ dinner came to me while I was on a hot girl’s walk with another female friend of mine,” Ms Maher, 28, said. from her apartment in Los Angeles.

She said that she and her friend discussed the incomparable perfection of bread and cheese as a meal in itself, as simple as it is satisfying. “We love to eat like this, and it feels like such a girly dinner because we do it when our boyfriends aren’t around and we don’t have to have what is a ‘typical dinner’ – basically, with a protein and a vegetable and a starch,” said Mrs. Maher.

She decided to debut the phrase on TikTok. “This is my dinner,” says Ms. Maher the video, flipping her phone camera to show her spread: chunks of butter and cheese, part of a baguette, some grapes and pickles, and a glass of red wine. “I’m calling this girl dinner.” Since she posted it in May, the 15-second clip has been viewed more than a million times.

Alana Laverty, a 28-year-old food content creator in London who immediately embraced the phrase, said she started making what she called “snack plates” for dinner during summers when it was too hot to even consider turning on an oven.

“I feel like cooking full meals becomes so repetitive and exhausting, especially in the summer,” Ms Laverty said. “When dinner came, we just took one main cheese or one main protein and got fresh bread and threw everything on the plate. It’s a really normal way of eating for me now.”

Ms Laverty started posting her beautifully arranged snack plates on TikTok last year. When the girls’ dinner trend started to take off, she recalled, “I was like, ‘I’ve never resonated with anything more.'”

“There was this feeling of, ‘Oh my God, I’m not the only one,'” Ms. Laverty said. “I love anything that celebrates something that women all do, but we don’t all know we’re doing it.”

Some have pointed out that the grazing is not enough to satisfy their own appetites and, in some cases, could be masking disordered eating.

“‘Girl dinner’ more like a girl please go to the doctor you have ED,” one user wrote on TikTok.

But followers are quick to realize that girls’ nights out aren’t about stripping. Women have long been programmed to see food as the enemy, but the girls’ dinner trend is all about embracing the simple joy of snacks as meals. Girls dinner represents a conscious choice to remove the tyranny of cooking and cooking. It is also, conveniently, the answer to a fridge clean out day.

And while the trend may sound suspiciously like tapas, or mezze, or a charcuterie board, a girl’s dinner is different in one key way: Unlike a Super Bowl-esque spread of appetizers, a girl’s dinner is most often made by one person, for consumption and enjoyment. of one person.

“I remember trying to be a food preparer and I just couldn’t do it,” Ms Laverty said. “You could go through the trouble of it, but why not open a bunch of jars and satisfy your taste buds just the same?”

Seema Rao, an art historian in Cleveland, sees a historical connection between girls’ dinner parties and entrenched gender norms that dictate women prepare a hearty meal for their husbands every evening.

“The idea of ​​cooking dinner has historically been women’s work in the home,” Ms Rao, 49, said. “What I like about a girl’s dinner is it takes away the idea that you have to cook anything: You just literally put it together. 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.”

At least one nutritionist has gave her seal of approval to the trend. Kathrine Kofoed, 27, a nutritionist and health coach in Portland, Oregon, suggested that part of the reason the girls’ dinner was so widely accepted was its affirmation of the way women already eat: “It’s a nice departure from diet culture, and of all these rigid expectations of what food should be.”

“I see so many more problems for people with overeating and restricting and then maybe bingeing, or just having this very complicated and often messy relationship with food,” Ms Kofoed said, pointing to the benefits of finding “more joy and pleasure in the meal”. meals we eat.”

Perhaps the most important thing about a girl’s dinner is that you don’t have to be a girl to enjoy it.

“My friends and I joked that it was a girl’s dinner, but anyone can have it,” Ms Maher said. “But it’s for the girls, gays and them.”

You might be wondering what, in contrast, a “boys dinner” might look like. “Go to your local supermarket at 6.30pm and stand behind a single man and see what’s in his basket,” comedian Brian Lee. observed on TikTok. “Freezer pizza, deli meats, fries, no veggies.”

For Ms. Maher, it’s less about the content of the meal than the feeling around it. “The girls dinner is a dizzying experience,” she said. “You could eat the slice of frozen pizza, but you also have maybe a glass of wine and some grapes to go with it. And you are so pleased with yourself. You’re like, ‘I barely worked for this and it feels like an indulgence.’ That’s what makes it a girls’ dinner.”

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