DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’m 20 and I hope you take this question seriously as a men’s-rights issue because nobody talks about it except through hurtful jokes. With no concern that men might have body-image issues, girls seem to think it’s okay to laugh about a guy’s “size” — all the while, insisting size doesn’t matter. I had one girl laugh at my size and another break up with me over it. This hurts and I’m nervous about getting in a new relationship. I’d really like some honesty from girls about what matters and from guys about how to deal with this. - James, Lenexa, Kan.
Katherine, 17, Redding: It’s time we realize men are insecure about body image, too. Those girls are not worth the stress. I know girls who like a bigger size, and it may seem like all girls do, but I guarantee, most don’t care.
Brandon, 22, Mapleton, Maine: Lots of guys worry about being “small.” It’s on every dude’s mind, the whole “I hope she’s not expecting X.” Truthfully, from girls I’ve spoken with, the saying is true: “Size doesn’t matter, it’s how you use it.” However, not every girl shares that belief, as you’ve noted. I had a friend who was very open about having 3 inches. Why? Because he and his girlfriend (who scored high on the “hot-o-meter”) enjoyed their sex life very much. My friend was willing to work with her sexually, worrying about HER climax before he worried about his. What girl could laugh at a guy who wasn’t well endowed when she was having the best orgasms of her life?
Nicole, 24, Grass Valley: A boyfriend of mine was smaller than average. On our first time, he said, “I know it’s small, but let’s work with it.” And let me tell you, we worked with it! I hear the hurt you’ve endured, but don’t be discouraged. You have everything needed to please a woman.
Justin, 27, Redding: I understand male body-image issues. I was mocked constantly, “Ew, you’re so skinny! Eat something!” I still hesitate going shirtless in front of new people — and I’m in fantastic shape. Everyone rails about media depictions of females, yet every male superhero and action star has an impossible-to-obtain image, driving many boys to steroids. All boys grow up hearing they’ll be inadequately endowed. I’m not big, and I could be nervous or ashamed, but the fact is, there’s nothing I can do about it. Why spend even a second thinking about it? If a girl is so shallow she can’t enjoy what I’ve got, that’s her problem.
Rachel, 22, Corte Madera: Unfortunately, pornography has glorified large penises, but with erect size averaging 5 inches, there’s a LOT of variation. Vaginas are all different, too. I had a boyfriend say he’d never seen one like mine, which made me think something was wrong with me — which was ridiculous. Some people are just mean, usually due to their own insecurities. They aren’t worthy of you. With the right person, nothing is an issue.
DEAR JAMES: I cringe at your mistreatment and take this very seriously. The good news is, you had the cojones and resourcefulness to write us. And these are a man’s sexiest features (Brandon’s friend is a good example). While you can’t change certain things — or certain people — you can change your own thinking and have a wonderful sex life. Imagine you’re an athlete in a slump. To get back in the game, stop comparing, shrug off negative thoughts (they are ridiculous), let the past go, and focus on your partner. If you don’t get anywhere, I recommend a good counselor and/or the Landmark Forum. — Lauren