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Chest Binding 101

Edited By: Joy Jiang


If you search up “binding” on Google, you will come across binding machine, binding energy, and even the video game Binding of Isaac. But today, we will learn about chest binding.

Binding is the technique of wrapping a person’s chest to make the chest appear flatter. Commonly associated with trans men, binding is also used by androgynous, gender-queer, gender fluid, and other individuals of non-binary gender identities. It is also sometimes used by cross-dressers, performers, and even by women as an alternate to bras.

Binding is done for reasons more than just concealing breasts. It is done for lactation suppression, suppression of gender dysphoria, cosplay, accelerated recovery by reducing movement after an injury or surgery (especially after having a top surgery), or after surgery to flatten-out and create a more male-looking chest to improve healing.


Safety Precautions While Wearing a Binder

How do you exactly wear a binder? Here are some safety tips:

1. Do not bind your chest 24/7. 

Wrapping your chest for periods longer than eight hours can cause problems from fainting due to constant pressure against your body. It can also result in fluid build-up in the lungs and broken rib bones. Also, binding for a long time can alter the natural elasticity of your skin which “may have some minor affects on your final cosmetic results,” negatively affecting your body if you wish to opt for a top surgery later in life.

2. Do not use DIY binders made out of duct tape or even regular tape, saran wrap or (ACE) bandages.

These materials won’t move along with your skin as you wal. They can cause pain, and even result in bruises.

3. Do not sleep with your binder.

This one speaks for itself. 

4. Try not to wear binders while working out.

Let your body move freely. As you will breathe faster and sweat more, you should not restrict your air flow. Try an extreme sports bra, but avoid binders.

5. While purchasing binders, do not buy the ones which stick tightly to your body. 

A snug fit is appropriate.

6. If you are going to be sitting in a single place for a long time, like while flying on an airplane or taking a long train/bus ride, take extra precautions to be comfortable with your binder.

Try to opt for a loose binder, if possible, or wear a baggy shirt with a sports bra would work.


Binder care

Wash your binder regularly. Depending upon the amount of time you wear the binder and its brand, keep track of when to wash it. More importantly, use the right products to prolong the life of your binder and keep its elasticity. For washing, close any Velcro and zipper, if any, of your binder to protect it from any damage. After flipping your binder inside out, put it inside a delicate (lingerie) bag if possible, and wash it using mild detergents and cold water on a delicate cycle (if you are not washing it by hand). Do not use strong detergents, bleach, or softeners.

Do not dry your binder in dryer. Rather, hang your binder on a hanger in a well-ventilated area. Putting it in a dryer will shrink it, decreasing its lifespan. For more help on binder washing care, check out this website.


Measuring Your Binder Size

Measuring your size for buying a binder is quite easy. You would need three materials; a measuring tape, a pencil/pen, and a paper to write down all the numbers.

Step 1

Stand in front of a mirror and measure the biggest part of your chest. This excludes much of the breast tissue, so keep the measuring tape right above the nipples. Look into the mirror to check your number, do not look down or else the measurement might be off by a few points. Write down this number. Let’s suppose your size comes to a 32.

Step 2

Take the tape again and measure right under your breasts, on your breast crease. Write down this number too. Let’s suppose this number comes out as 28.

Step 3

Add the numbers together. From our above example, this would be 32 + 28 = 60.

Step 4

Divide your results by two. Taking our example above, 60/2 = 30. This number is your binder size.

For further help, check out this cool size chart!


Putting On Your Chest Binder

The process of putting on a binder surprised me during my research; one would assume that you put a binder on like a regular t-shirt, but that’s not the case. Thomas Underwood narrates his woes while wearing a binder for the first time. He explains that binders are pulled from the bottom. You need to turn your binder inside out, step inside it and pull it your waist. Holding the sleeves, you pull up the top of the binder to your shoulders. Then, you put your arms through the arm holes. Finally, adjust the waist, straighten out the vest, and you are ready to rock-and-roll.

Underwood gives one last tip. For making the chest look even flatter, push your nipples towards the armpits. Before finalizing your binder, make sure it is not too tight and not too loose. You should be able to breathe, but the binder should not not slack down your chest.


Where to Get a Binder

Now that you know your size and know how to take care of your binder, time to check out some binders.

Here is a list of some of the most comfortable binders.

If you are under a budget, several organizations donate, do free-giveaways and sell used binders at cheap prices.

Global organization. 

Canada specific organizations.

Europe specific organizations.

USA specific organizations.

Remember to focus on comfort while purchasing your binders and good luck on your journey!

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Avleen is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto, finishing her Double Major in English, and Professional Writing and Communication with a Minor in History. She was an editor with UTM Scribes, contributor to The Medium newspaper, maintained a WordPress research blog, and has been part of the Her Campus community since 2017. Check out more of Avleen's content on her WordPress blog http://loveandthelaws.wordpress.com
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