Apparently the highly competitive game of parenting has turned into a literal dick-measuring contest. The New York Times’s health blog, “Well,” published an article about the newest fear to rattle helicopter (or should we say heli-cock-ter?) parents: that their sons’ penises aren’t big enough:
Questions about penis size have become more common over the past decade, as my colleagues and I have all seen more overweight children coming in for physical exams. And these worries reflect cultural preoccupations and anxieties, which can make the conversation highly fraught for all concerned.
“I see dissatisfaction with the phallus very regularly,” pediatric urologist Aseem Shukla obliquely told the article’s author, in what’s probably the story’s most relatable quote. Because who among us hasn’t felt some dissatisfaction with the phallus, after all? Our own, one belonging to a lover or Orlando Bloom’s… There’s much about the phallus that can dissatisfy. And a new wave of overly concerned, Web MD-connected parents is ready to lean in to that dissatisfaction. As the article points out, it tends to be parents of fatter boys who get concerned, because they don’t realize that their sons’ baby fat can make their baby dicks harder to see:
And until the hormones of puberty kick in and the penis begins to grow, a statistically normal penis on a disproportionately large body can look small to a worried parent.
While the piece points out that a small penis could very rarely indicate some medical problem—including a “hidden penis” (when it’s concealed by fat surrounding the pubic bone) or a “slidey” penis (when “the actual shaft retreats and only the skin, or the foreskin… is clearly apparent”), which could necessitate surgery; or a micropenis, which might indicate a genetic syndrome or hormonal dysfunction—the problem is usually cosmetic and Shukla ends up telling the boys, “‘You are going to be totally fine, you are going to have a great life.’”
Except maybe you’re not, if your parents are the type of people to worry about the size of their child’s dick.
Zak Stone is MEL’s executive editor.