I can haz emailz?
Hi Laci! I’m a female that identifies as male, and I’ve been curious about maybe trying to bind my chest (in a healthy manner). I’ve heard about all of these ways to bind your chest, but so many of them seem to have these side effects or health issues. Like one friend of mine tried to bind herself using Ace bandages (which, as you know, compress), so she unknowingly was binding her chest with bandages that compressed! I’m sorry if this is a really random question, but…Do you think you could help me out with a nice, safe way to chest bind?
I once tried binding my boobs down when I was in high school. My friends and I somehow decided that DUCT TAPE was a good idea. Dear lord….never again! I thought that shit was going to pull my nipples clean off.
Yeah….I know. Lesson learned.
For those who are wondering, FTM (female to male – female sex/male gender) binding is pretty common as a way to alter gender expression. Chest binding is also used for cosplay or to cross dress. While Duct Tape is the bottom of the barrel, Ace bandages are not a very sustainable idea either. These bandages work in a way that causes them to become tighter/less flexible every time they are used, which with multiple uses could: warp your ribcage, weaken your chest muscles, cause fluid to build up in your lungs, or other serious back harm.
Do not want.
To reduce (though not eliminate) the risk of injury by binding with an Ace bandage:
(1) Use each bandage only a couple times.
(2) Don’t bind for longer than 8 hours.
(3) Don’t bind too tightly (try puffing your chest up while you’re binding).
(4) Wear something under it to prevent digging & binding too tightly (tank tops, t-shirts, and sports bras seem to work well for this).
(5) Stretch a little once it’s on – this helps, especially if it comes out a little lopsided. Take a deep breath, hug yourself, and twist back and forth a few times.
Safer Alternatives to Ace Bandages
For around $20, try using a girdle, control-top panty hose, or biking shorts. Cut off the bottom to create a stretchy tube for you to slide into. If you have a smaller chest, you might also get the same effect from sports bras.
For around $30, compression t-shirts are sold for men who have Gynecomastia and want to diminish the appearance of “man boobs”. These will do the trick. Check out The Tool Shed (FTM/trans* friendly!) or Underarmour for compression tops in this price range.
For between $30-70, consider a product specifically made for binding. T-Kingdom and Love Boat Shop both offer good deals on FTM binders.
General Binding Tips
★Whether you’re using control-tops or a specially designed binder, avoid the temptation of buying one that is too small! This will have the same poor effects on your body as the Ace bandages. To find the right size binder, try this tool to convert from your bra size.
★Don’t bind 24/7! Ace bandages are safe up to 8 hours while other binders are okay between 9 and 12 hours.
★If you wish to make the binder less noticeable, try layering shirts.
★If at any point you feel restricted in your breathing or light-headed, take the binder off immediately!
★To put on the binder, start with it inside out and upside down on the ground. Step into it, pull it up to your hips (still inside out/upside down), and then use the sleeves at the bottom as handles to roll it on you right-side-up.
★Many binders will make you feel hot because they don’t breathe well. Try wearing a thin cotton shirt under to help your skin out. I have also heard of people applying cornstarch to their skin first.
Binding can be a liberating experience, particularly for FTM trans*folk. Experiment with what works for you, and remember that maintaining physical flexibility is your key to safe binding!