A lot of you have written in about binding. How to bind, when to bind, how long to bind for, binding for larger chests, recommended brands, etc. The lovely Logan emailed me offering to give us the long awaited Qwear binding 101, and I’m confident that he answered all your questions and then some! - Sonny
Intro to Binding: Health, Brands, and Care Tips
By Guest Blogger, Logan
Chest binding is the process of flattening one’s breasts in order to create a flat, or ‘male’ appearing chest. This can be done with the use of an array of constrictive materials including elastic, cloth strips, and purpose-built undergarments commonly known as a binder.
Qwear recognizes that while binding has some risks involved, it will also improve your mental health if you have body dysphoria. Finding the balance between your mental health and physical safety is something only you can decide on. We hope these safety tips will help inform you on the best decision for your overall health:
Binding can be sweaty, uncomfortable, and restrict your movement. It’s up to you to be sensible in just how tight is too tight. If it becomes painful or prevents you from breathing then it’s too tight – it needs to come off! Binding can lead to suffering different aches and pains. For myself it’s a chronic back and rib pain. Be aware of your body and if something doesn’t feel right or it’s cutting into your skin, give it a rest.
You should ideally only be binding for 8-10 hours a day. Binding morning until night can cause a lot of damage. Once you do remove your binder, cough hard a few times to loosen any fluid that has built up in your lungs. This is very effective. Also do a few deep breathing exercises.
Ensure you buy the correct size to correlate with your frame and chest size. You may think that buying a smaller size will simply work better, but things are already designed to be incredibly tight when they fit correctly. Buying an incorrect size could lead to injury.
It may be overwhelming choosing your first binder and you may be tempted to try a DIY method to start with just to see if it’s for you. However, I urge you to not use ace bandages or duct tape. These methods can seriously harm your body, and have been the cause of cracked ribs, not to mention severe discomfort.
If you plan to do any form of exercise, or you have a particularly active job, consider not binding during these activities. Naturally, when you exercise you need to get more oxygen to your brain and thus you breathe deeper and more rapidly. As binding constricts your chest, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to get oxygen into your lungs and you could pass out. No matter how adorable you look, no one wants you to lose consciousness!
BINDING METHODS AND BRANDS
Layering is a popular method for those who aren’t keen on purchasing a binder or are conscious about the discomfort it can cause. It simply involves layering items of clothes to hide your chest, starting from a tighter form-fitting bottom layer to a looser top layer. Great idea for beginners but not very fashion conscious, unless you’re partial to baggier clothes.
A cheap, effective way to bind for individuals with smaller chests. I wear a sports bra when I need a break from binding. Visit a local sports outlet and try on a few different brands/sizes to get the best fit for you. You can also try layering a couple of sports bras on top of each other to create the desired flattened appearance. (See Qwear’s round-up of flattening sports bras.)
Chest Binders/Compression Tanks
Binders are the most common item used to effectively flatten your chest. There’s a wide variety of products out there to suit the needs of the individual. Just ensure you check the sizing as this will vary from each manufacture. You may need to try a few different products and sizes before finding the most comfortable fit.
- Underworks: This is where I got my chest binder from. I went for the tri-top chest binder simply because I didn’t like the idea of full length binding suit. If you have any questions regarding sizing or style, don’t be shy. The team at Underworks are trans friendly.
- T-Kingdom: T-Kingdom is a company familiar with female-to-male transgender individuals and ships across the world in only 10-15 days. A wide variety of different compression tops available.
- Love Boat Shop: International shipping with discreet packaging. Offers pullover, zipper, and velcro binding options. There’s also plenty of information about their products in the ‘help’ section of their website. Perfect for a first time buyer.
Binders aren’t necessarily cheap, so it’s very important that you look after them to ensure longevity. During the summer months you may find you need to wash them much more frequently, as although binders are usually made of a spandex blend that is made breathable, it most definitely doesn’t feel that way when it gets hot outside!
Don’t put your binder in the dryer or iron it, as this will only cause damage to the elasticity. Hand washing is the way to go. In the sink, a little bit of your detergent and warm water. Ensure you thoroughly rinse the binder in cool water to get out all the soap, then hang the binder to dry.
Keeping your binder up hanging is generally better for it than putting it away in your drawer, as it will allow the binder to keep its shape for longer.
Washing your binder regularly will get rid of all the sweat, germs, and oil that can transfer onto it from you skin. This will lessen the risk of rashes and itchiness.
HOW TO PUT ON YOUR BINDER
Some binders are simply slipped on over the head, just like a T-shirt. You may find the tank top style binders are the easiest to put on this way. If you’re having difficulty this way then you can step into the garment and pull it up over your hips and adjust accordingly. Always ensure you’re completely dry before attempting to put on your binder, otherwise it is near impossible to do comfortably.
A part of binding is finding out what works for you, whether that be through your dress sense or your binding options. Whatever you choose, make sure you feel sexy/confident. If you’re a first time binder and worried about people’s reactions, remember that most people won’t actively comment on the subject. If they do, politely tell them it’s none of their business. My friends and family did notice and once I invited them to talk about it, I just told them the truth. That was my prerogative though, and you don’t have to say anything! The thing that everyone noticed the most about my binding habits was that I was more confident when I was binding, and surely that’s not a bad thing!