Is There a Relationship Between Shoe Size and Penis Length?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Feb. 21 2013 5:47 AM

Is It True What They Say About Men With Big Feet?

The difficulties of taking the true measure of a man.

Chen Mingzhi, a shoe designer, lies inside of his handmade 1.9 meter-long (6.23 foot-long) right shoe at his family store in Wenling, Zhejiang province in September 2012.
Chen Mingzhi, a shoe designer, lies inside of his handmade 1.9 meter-long (6.23 foot-long) right shoe at his family store in Wenling, Zhejiang province in September 2012.

Photo by Carlos Barria / Reuters

Chubby Checker filed a lawsuit against computer giant Hewlett-Packard last week after the company released an app called “The Chubby Checker,” which purported to estimate a man’s penis length based on his shoe size. Is there a correlation between penis length and shoe size?

Maybe. Urologists at an English hospital in 2002 measured the length of 104 men’s penises and recorded their shoe sizes, finding no statistically significant correlation between the two. The study was an instant hit, and several websites declared the penis length–shoe size myth officially debunked. The Explainer, however, isn’t entirely convinced. A 1993 study observed a relationship between shoe size and penis length, albeit a weak one. A couple of other studies documented correlations between penis length and other body measurements. Turkish researchers in 2011 found that height, weight, and body mass index values all correlated with penis size. The same year that the English study claimed to bust the shoe-size myth, Greek urologists observed a relationship between penis length and the length of one’s index finger. If the size of other body parts correlates with penis length, it would be surprising if shoe size did not. (Tall people with big hands, after all, are likely to have big feet.) Individual variation is to be expected, but this question may remain unsettled until a series of well-constructed studies reach the same conclusion. That might be a while, given the paucity of federal research dollars earmarked for penis-length studies.

The difficulty in these studies is finding an accurate, reliable method for measuring a penis. Body dimensions, in general, are subject to change. Standing up for long periods, exercise, and sitting through a trans-Atlantic flight can cause your feet to swell. Waist circumference also changes throughout the day, as does height. These variations, however, are insignificant compared with the way a penis shrinks and lengthens in response to temperature changes, physical activity, touch, and mental state. According to the aforementioned Turkish study, simply stretching out a flaccid penis changes its length by more than 30 percent.

The ideal in the shoe-size-correlation studies would be to measure a fully erect penis, but that’s not feasible. As an alternative, most researchers stretch the non-erect penis before measuring its length. Even though this technique prevails among urologists, it turns out there is more than one way to stretch a penis. Some doctors measure it immediately after the subject drops his trousers, to prevent cold from affecting the data. They stretch the penis once, take a measurement, and are finished. Other researchers pull the penis to length three times before measuring it, the way a clown repeatedly stretches a balloon before inflating it and twisting it into the shape of a dog. In addition, no matter how the stretch is accomplished, it is difficult to apply this method consistently. The length of an object at full stretch depends on how hard you pull on it. Different urologists may have their own views on how much force can be comfortably applied to the flaccid penis of a volunteer study participant.

Got a question about today’s news? Ask the Explainer

Brian Palmer writes about science, medicine, and the environment for Slate and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Email him at explainerbrian@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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