It’s become a trope that, when a heterosexual couple is out on a date, the woman might say she’s not that hungry, but proceed to eat some of the man’s food. It seems innocent enough, but complaints that these girlfriends must be pulling one over on their boyfriends to snag commitment-free nachos has proliferated to a point where restaurants across the country are offering dishes and menus for the “not hungry” date.
Mama D’s in Little Rock, Arkansas is the latest restaurant to go viral for the menu addition. The $4.25 “My Girlfriend Is Not Hungry” special gives you the option of adding extra fries, wings, or cheese sticks to your already existing meal. In another light, it would be a lovely way to offer couples a way to split food on the cheap, but it’s framed as a burden a man on a date must endure for... sex later? The ability to joke about her appetite on social media?
Petition for every restaurant to do this pic.twitter.com/1qXoaZrBQ6— WORLDSTARHIPHOP (@WORLDSTAR) June 30, 2019
Mama D’s isn’t the only restaurant to offer such a “deal.” Restaurants in Oregon and New York will double your fries. Tangled Hickory in Wisconsin will double your fries and add extra onion rings. One Night Stan’s in Calgary will double your fries and add three honey biscuits, for the girl who just wants biscuits and fries for dinner (an icon). And the Tipsy Coyote in Scottsdale, Arizona has named their entire salad menu “My Girlfriend’s Not Hungry,” because no straight man would deign to eat lettuce.
Let’s start with the acknowledgment that it’s not a crime to just want three onion rings sometimes. The idea that your girlfriend is intentionally lying to you about how much fried food she wants (because these menu items are never an extra order of green beans) is based in the men-are-from-Mars-and-Venus-is-complicated idea that women are always being coy about what they “really” mean, and it’s a man’s job to decipher it. At its most benevolent, it causes men to roll their eyes when women snag bites of their dessert. At its worst, it gives men cover for their misdeeds under the guise that she was secretly “asking for it.”
But aside from the misogyny (well, more like along with it), there are many reasons why anyone might snag some fries without ordering her own. Maybe she can’t afford, or understands her partner can’t afford, two full orders of fries and is trying to be nice about it. Maybe she just really wanted a salad, because salads are great in their own right, and also one onion ring because onion rings are also great. Maybe, like many women, she struggles with disordered eating because we live in a society that asks that women be “chill” enough to scarf down pizza but also remain 110 pounds at all times, and she’s stuck in a damned-if-you-do situation where her date will judge her no matter what she orders. Or maybe she thought she was on a date with a generous, trusting person who wouldn’t turn her appetite back on her. How dare she make that mistake.
Grabbing a bunch of food off your date’s plate is a bad look if you’re still getting to know each other, but if your girlfriend asks you for a couple of fries, is it really the worst thing to give her some fries? If you really can’t spare them, you can always say no if she asks! But the option exists to actually have a conversation with your significant other and express your needs and boundaries instead of snarkily complaining about how women be eating. It’s better than making your girlfriend feel like crap for thinking her boyfriend would be willing to share with her.