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The dark side of girl dinner
Food trends gone sour 🍴
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Another day, another food trend on TikTok. You guys see these buttered noodles with cheese and a toast? That’s my ✨girl dinner✨ (proceeds to sing the girl dinner song GIRL DINNER, GIIIIRL DINNER, GIR- GIRL- GIRL DINNNNEEERRRR. 👹) I hope you were serenaded. I tried my hardest. But my very amazing, nightingale, Nina Simone voice aside, let’s talk about yet another food trend on our favourite app… and see why it’s also kinda harmful.
What is girl dinner?
Food trends have always been around, at least since the 2010s when I saw a lot of experimentation on social media. Rainbow cronuts or charcoal ice cream. The holy trinity — rainbow, unicorn (yes, they’re different, they have different colour palettes. DO NOT LUMP THEM TOGETHER) and charcoal ruled the early 2010s up until the mid 2010s. 2016 onwards, I think food trends died down a bit and I only remember “pinkity drinkity” from that era and I, like many others, wanted it so bad but couldn’t get it. But I get my pinkity drinkity dose now (my dragonfruit mango refresha addiction is side-eyeing me right now).
The obsession with different food trends started again in 2020 during the lockdowns — banana bread, dalgona coffee, focaccia, the works. It makes sense, we had nothing to do, so we turned to food because food is comforting. Obviously, it wasn’t limited to just food but also evolved into “what I eat in day as a ___” content, which existed way back as well but just like the holy trinity, died down. But now they’re popping up again everywhere with the latest being girl dinner.
Before we move on, I’d like to mention that food trends are so interesting, whether it is experimentation with food to come up with cronuts or trends that give us a glimpse into what others eat, because of novelty and a sense of community (I also want to say I’m nosey so I like seeing what people eat, and I’m also a student who would like easy recipes, so these help a lot thank you for your service ). The sense of community comes up because it’s something everyone can connect over. Love, friendship, all the good things, happen because of food, everyone say thank you food.
Okay, onto the origins of girl dinner. Girl dinner is exactly what the name suggests, meals prepared by women for themselves. The trend was started by Olivia Maher and the food showcased under the trend isn’t usually a full-on recipe. It’s an assortment of foods, I call them trinket foods. Some examples of girl dinner would be my buttered pasta from earlier, or leftovers or even caesar salad with fries and a diet coke. The essence of girl dinner is that while it’s random, it’s fulfilling and a healthy, realistic and non-restrictive amount of food. It hits most, if not all, the food groups.
Why is girl dinner problematic?
Girl dinners started as a fun trend on TikTok where women showed what assortments and combinations of food they were eating. And like most things on the internet, it took a dark turn. Not sure when or how or WHY it happened, but the diet culture side of the internet picked up on the trend and absolutely dominated it.
It went from wholesome (mildly funny but REALISTIC) meals, to women eating meals that toddlers would eat. 🤠 One meal was two boiled eggs with a SINGULAR cut strawberry and string cheese. Now while it may hit a few food groups, it’s not enough food for a grown woman. One “meal” was quite literally a bowl of ice, like bae that’s not girl dinner it’s iron deficiency. All of this leads to the question of the relation of food trends with diet culture, body image and societal norms.
Diet culture is pretty much everywhere on the internet, it is literally fed to us (pun not intended) and it branches into issues dealing with body image to fit the societal norms at the time. It inserts itself not only into clothes, but into internet trends as well. Even if a trend has nothing to do with food, best believe it’ll find a way. Which is why I think it’s so important to be mindful of what trends we’re feeding because they can turn dangerous so quickly. Even if you’re doing something for shock factor, think about it first please, we don’t need to see people lick ice creams at a grocery store and then put the said ice cream back into the freezer. Don’t get too silly on the internet, it has consequences.
The pattern of problematic food and body trends
Look, there’s an obvious relation between food/diet trends and body and beauty ideals. Look at recent history, we don’t even have to go all that far back. 90s “cocaine chic” and Tumblr’s pro anorexia content, was everywhere when we were growing up and it instilled a certain ideal for beauty and body in women growing up. A lot of bodies that are portrayed in Hollywood and even online, are unattainable — unless you’ve got money and a good doctor OR you’re really good at photoshop. Because it’s never explicitly disclosed what is real and what’s not, we tend to take everything at face value because of the sheer oversaturation of a specific look. The 90s had “cocaine chic”, where we saw models in a very thin frame, the 2000s had the athletic look with more ‘masculine features’, and from the 2010s to now, we have the hourglass, Kim Kardashian look.
To keep up with these ideals people usually go through extreme diets and procedures and this is when food trends start to become dangerous. Not everything needs to be healthy. I’m not saying stop making healthy foods, but calling crinkle-cut watermelons FRIES is going too far. Cauliflower steak? 😭 IT’S BAKED AND SLICED CAULIFLOWER. Calling the foods a different name doesn’t make it a healthier version of what you’re trying to avoid. Please eat what you want, when you want. Balance and moderation are far more important than WHAT you eat. When obsession is involved, food trends start to go sour like curd and that’s when they start to become problematic. I understand some people have personal goals, but those goals mean nothing if you’re miserable because you had sweetened yogurt when you really wanted ice cream. I promise you, your soul, body and mind would be happier if you eat that ice cream just once in a while. Not because “you deserve it” or because you “completed your weekly goal”— you deserve to eat what you want just because. You don’t always need a celebratory reason to eat what you want. Be like Nike, just eat it.
This piece had a lot of heavy themes but it’s something that needs a proper conversation. Girl dinner is a testament to how food trends need to be handled carefully lest they go sour. And it’s not just limited to girl dinner, but every other trend as well. It actually is a community burden to be aware of what we’re consuming and putting out. It’s on us to be aware of what trends we’re making and supporting and to call-out unsavoury behaviours. We have to be on the lookout and protect each other because sometimes, someone might not know better.
The verdict on girl dinner is that while it has evolved into something a little problematic, it’s amazing, we just have to be careful to not end up on the diet culture side of it. It’s wholesome and I love seeing different food trinket combinations. I think it’s a slay. 👀
Any questions/suggestions as to what we should cover next? Reach out to us and we’re always here to chat!
— Written by Shaurya, Trends Reporter at The Z Link
Connect with Shaurya on Instagram where she shares great content and lives her best influencer life as a fashion student in Paris. And she writes all of these great issues too. What can’t she do??? 🧐 Thank you for reading!