Body shaming is a serious issue. What with the world's most popular news site being fixated on "ample cleavage" and "toned midriffs" and the absolute importance of how much weight a little-known reality TV personality has recently lost, it's easy to get mixed up between fantasy and reality.
Good news, then, that earlier this week Ant Smith, a poet from Yorkshire, announced that he'll be throwing a party to celebrate individual body image – a party, to be completely accurate, paying homage to small penises. It will be the first of its kind in Britain. Should you want to celebrate your below-average boner, it will be held on the 7th of March at the Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel.
Ant decided to put the night on after writing a poem last year about his four-inch penis. Here's a sample of that poem:
I have a tiny cock
Like a crooked little finger
Everybody else's dick
Is inevitably bigger
If six inch as an average
Can truly be believed
Someone here in this room
Is twice the size of me
If you can do your algebra
Already you will know
Four inches is the maximum
My dick will ever go
For the engineers among you
I'll express my ratio
My little one-inch wonder
Up to four times it can grow
"After writing 'Shorty' I had to convince myself it would be OK to perform it," Ant tells me. "In May, when I first performed it, it was quite nerve-wracking. But having been a performer for 20 years, it was nice having some real nerves again; it puts energy into what you're doing."
Unsurprisingly, "Shorty" soon made its way into the public spotlight. Ant started getting emails from people all over the world sharing their stories with him, and it became clear that plenty of men were experiencing penis anxiety. "All of us had started a really important conversation, and people were starting to take notice," says Ant. "I had to take the conversation to the next step, and it suddenly dawned on me that what I was trying to do here was tackle a body image issue.
"I was having a drunken chat recently with a friend who had penis size anxiety, and he told me it was because his dick was six inches. If a guy in that position can be wasting energy and having moments of misery in their life, then the world is seriously broken."
Ant believes that differences in your physical attributes should not be lamented, but celebrated. At next month's "Big Small Penis Party", men will be asked to disclose the size of their dick before entering the building, before being charged 50 pence per inch. So with the average penis clocking in at around six inches, most men should be able to get in for the price of a Tesco Meal Deal.
Female guests will be charged according to their preferred size. As in, they'll be asked how long they would like their hypothetical dick to be if they were a man, and will subsequently be charged by the inch. So if they imagine themselves as a man with a nine-inch dick, they'll have to pay £4.50 for entry. Regardless of your gender, The Big Small Penis Party is going to work out as much better value than your average night out in central London. And don't bother lying about what you're packing, because you're only going to end up paying more.
"Honesty is really important in both poetry and comedy," says Ant. "I'd written so much about my life, my wife and my friends, and then I realised they'd had to face that honesty, so it was time for me to face the honesty."
Ant and his wife have been together for 17 years. "She's never done or said anything to reinforce any penis size anxiety," he says. "A relationship lasts that long by evolving. When you know each other so well, having this sort of anxiety creates a shell inside your personality and makes you feel you are keeping something from your partner.
"At one stage, there was a very conscious layer of worry and anxiety I had to deal with. But then it struck me that, for seven years, she had been saying that she loved me. If I turned around and said that 'I'm not loveable because...' it questions and devalues the love she's offering me, and that's not acceptable. I had to work that out, move on and realise that my wife loves my cock and I do as well. What more could I want?"
Some of The Big Small Penis Party will be recorded for a documentary on body image. According to Ant, the short documentary will be released "in three or four months" on Riot TV's YouTube channel. To inject an extra bit of colour into the proceedings, Ant has recruited 12 performers – including folk singers, comedians, rappers and poets – who he reckons will spread positive attitudes about body image.
One of the comedians already has a poem about tits and vaginas prepared. The other comedian is writing a new set specifically for the party. Ant insists that he will probably watch her rehearse at an open night beforehand. Performers will ensure that their content is non-threatening and isn't putting people with penis anxiety down.
Ant hopes that all of the performers will be naked. He intends to have live Twitter conversations with people who wanted to attend the party but couldn't make it. He also wants the audience to be tweeting and replying to tweets as the show goes on. Naked ushers will be there to encourage people to take part in an array of activities.
I ask Ant what sort of people he expects to attend the party. "I think there will be a number of men with specific anxiety concerns," he says. "I don't think the room will be filled with them, though. I suspect there will be slightly more women than men." (Much of the feedback Ant has received since performing the poem and announcing the party has been from women saying that penis size is not that big of an issue.)
"There will inevitably be people who just come along to see what I do with this, which is great, because I want a cross-section of people. It's not saying big penises are bad; it's about saying that humanity exists on a spectrum and the thing to do is to work out the thing that makes you unique," says Ant. "If something makes you unique, it's a brilliant thing. There are seven billion of us. We need to manage to remain individuals by embracing who we are – big piece or little piece."
But will the guests all be naked? "I doubt everyone will be naked," Ant smiles. "Some will want to be, and I will let them use the cleaning room to get out of their clothes or whatever. I'm not sure if they'd want to come through the streets of London naked, though."
Ant's announcement of the party has sparked widespread online discussion about penis size, bringing it into the context of body shaming – which is good, because that's exactly the point of the whole thing.
"We constantly see stories about body shaming women. It's very common and that's wrong," says Ant. "I want to get to the point when men read these stories and they envision how the person experiencing the body anxiety must feel. They can suddenly realise that how they feel with their own anxieties must be preyed on all the time for women.
"We can make positive body image a thing that truly unites the genders. Maybe we can make a difference in how society thinks. That's where I want to get to."
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