One late Wednesday night I went to the Hub and got an Uncrustable, fries and a cookie. A late night of painting was ahead of me. I sat on the floor of the gallery and ate the meal that I had been craving all day. Observing the art around me, I thought, “This is the best girl dinner I’ve had yet this semester.” It certainly was.
For those who do not know, girl dinner is an assortment of ready-to-eat food that is usually on hand at the moment or does not take long to obtain. Often it is a craving and a ready-to-eat meal. Some videos on social media do not even refer to food as girl dinner, rather girl dinner might be their assignment due at midnight. These types of videos are for the sake of the joke, something pulled together very last minute. For the sake of this article, we will focus on girl dinner being actual food, not late assignments.
Much of the student body has probably seen the girl dinner trend on social media and perhaps formed their own ideas about it. The trend has proven itself to be relatable to many people. At its best, girl dinner is the wide assortment of ready-to-eat food that creates enough nutrition for a meal. At its worst, girl dinner is only an iced coffee, if we are lucky. Yes, I am guilty as charged too.
This is why some believe that girl dinner promotes unhealthy eating habits in women and girls. Other people point out that girl dinner expresses not wanting to bear the mental load of creating a traditionally balanced meal for themselves, especially if it is for an entire family as well. Girl dinner gets rid of this mental load completely because girl dinner is created for one person, by one person. However, there is an underlying truth to girl dinner.
Girl dinner wants freedom from the pressure of creating and consuming perfectly planned nutritional meals for every week. Nutrition is still very important, but constantly worrying about it should not be the goal. The magazines in the checkout lanes that promote “women’s health,” such as diets and how to lose weight fast, do not help when it comes to worrying about what to eat.
An article about girl dinner in the New York Times by Jessica Roy expresses a similar sentiment about the goal of girl dinner. It says, “Women have long been programmed to see food as the enemy, but the girl dinner trend is about embracing the simple joy of snacks as meals.” Good nutrition does not have to be perfectly planned. In fact, it can be joyful.
Joyfulness is the reason that my own girl dinner that I recounted at the beginning of this article was one of the best I have had all semester. It had fulfilled all the necessary aspects of girl dinner. It was ready-to-eat, all I had to do was go get it. I also did not have to bear the mental load of cooking the meal for myself. It was created for one person, by one person. Perhaps most importantly of all, it gave me some joy in a monotonous day of schoolwork. If girl dinner does not spark joy, it is not girl dinner.