Little weiner. Jellybean. Tic-tac.
Disparaging comments about the not-so-well-endowed are commonplace in our society.
In politics, President Trump is routinely ridiculed for his tiny hands – and whatever some might think that implies.
People tend to think of body-shaming as a female issue, but the body-shaming of men is just as real. And the message is clear: having a small penis is not to be desired.
Ant Smith is the author of The Small Penis Bible. He knows what this unrelenting message can do to a man.
It caused Ant deep-seated shame from a young age.
“Size anxiety crept up on me,” he tells me when we meet. “Having to change for PE at school was something I was always very shy about. I would change into my shorts before I took my coat off, which is just weird.”
One day, when Ant was 18, he was play-fighting a friend. “He made an ‘illegal hold’,” Ant tells me. “And he said ‘Oh there’s not much there is there?’ Of course that stuck and preyed on my mind.”
In his late teens and early twenties, Ant says, “I found it very, very difficult to talk to girls. I had no real drive to put myself into a vulnerable situation by getting naked and intimate with someone.”
There are myriad products on sale to exploit this desire: everything from uncertified penis enlargement pills to self-injections that risk deforming the penis. There's also serious surgical procedures, such as £4,000 length extensions. You can even buy magic spells claiming to increase your size.
According to Ant's book, 68% of men measure between 4.5 and 6 inches when erect. About 16% measure under 4.5 inches.
That means there are a lot of men worrying about their penis size who do not, in fact, have a smaller than average penis.
One reason for this anxiety, Ant believes, is porn. Inevitably, men (like women) measure themselves against what they see – and generally speaking, what they see in porn is not your average penis.
Plus, insinuating someone has a small penis is a standard way of mocking men – which can also add to a man’s size anxiety.
Research suggests women are far less preoccupied with size than men are. The Psychology of Men & Masculinity journal found that 85% of women in relationships were happy with their partner’s size.
Ant’s own relationship with his wife is what helped him face up to his size issues.
“About four years ago I made the breakthrough,” he explains.
At that point, he was established in his career as an established computer programmer and performance poet, and had been with his wife for 16 years.
But, he tells me, “If she said something couples might, like, ‘I love your dick’, I still had this inner voice saying ‘that can’t be true’. And it just got to the point where my own self-revulsion was creating a divide. I was asking myself, ‘How can this woman really love me?'. If you’re asking yourself those questions in a loving relationship, that’s not healthy.”
Ant decided to share his worries with her and others close to him. “They’ve been really, really supportive - as the decent people in your life tend to be if you talk to them about your vulnerabilities. And, of course, you’ll discover there are other people you’re very close with who have exactly the same vulnerabilities, that you never knew about.”
Ant wrote the poem Shorty in 2014 about his penis size. He performed it at an open mic night in London and got a huge response.
The poem went viral and Ant appeared on Radio 1, This Morning and Australian radio station 9MSN to discuss it.
“I’ve received emails from folk telling me I’ve helped to lift them from a bout of depression,” he says.
His book, The Small Penis Bible, followed. He wanted to give accurate information on penis size and make those who are worried realise they are not alone. “I wanted there to be something positive that comes up in search results when people look for help on these issues.”
He’s encouraged by the fact that mainstream culture is becoming more open about mental health struggles.
“It seems to me that even three years ago, the idea of talking about penis size anxiety on daytime television would have been impossible.”
Not anymore – and the world is probably a happier place for it.