Dictionary.com now includes ‘Girl Dinner’: What does it signify?

The colloquialism “girl dinner” has earned its place in the lexicon, as per Dictionary.com. Spawned from a TikTok fad, this phrase is among the latest words to join the roster this Tuesday.

Alongside a myriad of new additions, many rooted in digital parlance, Dictionary.com introduces the term “girl dinner” as a noun, depicting an “appealing arrangement of easy-to-prepare nibbles, such as modest mounts of charcuterie, cheese, fruits, cherry tomatoes, etc., sufficient for a single meal.” Yet, where did this concept originate? Here is the essential information.

Defining ‘girl dinner’

The gastronomic term emerged on TikTok through Olivia Maher’s video dating back to May 2023. Maher coined the term portraying her variety of cheese, bread, grapes, and tiny pickles. This clip has sparked a plethora of imitations with the hashtag #GirlDinner and has inspired a tune from another TikTok user, amassing usage in upwards of 428,000 TikTok clips.

Although Maher’s initial video, depicting her light, snack-based meal, radiated humor, it’s become clear that the term has escalated. Some argue that the ideology behind “girl dinner” could potentially lead to harmful dietary habits.

“I totally understand the concerns raised,” Maher conveyed to Yahoo Life. However, she defends her concept as born from culinary enthusiasm, not as an endorsement of dietary limitation.

Rather, Maher defines “girl dinner” as an “ode to gastronomy and expressing passion and joy because you’re consuming precisely what you desire while fulfilling all your flavor cravings,” she asserts.

The phenomenon’s genesis

On an evening spent “sampling various items from her refrigerator,” Maher felt compelled to share a snippet on TikTok. “This is a practice we’ve all engaged in without recognizing it,” she mentions, regarding the makeshift dinner. “Previously, we did it privately, in the solace of our own abodes.”

Solo dining is a significant element, Maher notes, adding that this type of snack plate is her choice when her partner is not present, enabling her to eschew the time-consuming process of preparing a full dinner. “There’s no need for elaborate meals—I prefer to scavenge in my pantry,” she discloses.

The rationale for its widespread appeal

A “girl dinner,” while practical for solitary eaters, is also an anticipatory affair, according to Maher. It lets one dismiss any expectations of elaborate cooking, instead focusing on fulfilling immediate needs and desires.

Brenna O’Malley, a registered dietitian and creator of The Wellful, concurs with the meal’s charm. “It almost feels like a subtle resistance to the notion that meals must appear a specific way,” she states to Yahoo Life. “It offers a delightful mix of flavors and textures, which can be quite gratifying.”

The primary critique concerning the preparation of a girl dinner is ensuring the portion sizes are adequate, something O’Malley acknowledges she has witnessed on TikTok. “There’s a sentiment that this looks like an inadequate amount of food,” she notes, “or it appears to glorify minimal consumption.”

Unraveling the dispute

“The unsettling aspect lies in whether we are suggesting that this is a ‘girl dinner’ because of the embedded messages surrounding the need for women to be highly vigilant about their intake, fostering intense management and measurement of their nourishment. Or, could this be a method to more freely enjoy certain delights? Or, conversely, is this another avenue for extreme vigilance concerning one’s diet, with overly slender portions?” O’Malley elucidates.

The most modest “girl dinners” propagated on the web are those facing the sternest criticism, with an individual stating the trend has led people to “magnify eating disorders.” While some instances lean towards satire, it’s pivotal to discern the varied impacts of such content within the landscape of diet culture.

“This dichotomy is common with culinary fads; a fixation like that with cottage cheese or, more currently, the mustard dish. Sometimes what begins as an innocent online share grows into something that can be deeply troubling for others,” O’Malley reflects.

Maher expresses her astonishment at people’s assertions that “girl dinner resembles diet culture in a new guise or is a portrayal of eating disorders.”.

Maher insists her intent was benign

Far from promoting dietary restrictions, Maher insists that “girl dinner” is centered on consuming “what you necessitate.” She underscores that it’s a tailor-made experience meant to elicit “delight” over one’s food choices, as opposed to feelings of dissatisfaction or the consequences of societal dietary norms.

She ultimately urges her audience to grasp that an isolated meal showcased on TikTok doesn’t represent a complete dietary pattern.

“You can’t deduce an individual’s entire dietary regimen based on one shared meal. Perhaps they’ve partaken in a bountiful midday meal and aren’t hungry for a substantial evening fare. Instead, they opt for an easygoing, nibbling sort of meal, akin to a mini charcuterie sans board. Or perhaps their appetite isn’t as grand that day. We can’t know everyone’s circumstances,” she articulates. “Food should be something we celebrate. And importantly, the communal excitement and joy that surround eating ‘girl dinners’ are truly noteworthy.”

If you or anyone you know struggles with an eating disorder, more information can be found by visiting the National Eating Disorders (NEDA) website at nationaleatingdisorders.org.

Originally, this article appeared on July 13, 2023 and has since been revised.

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