Here at Origami Customs, we’ve been selling binders as long as we’ve been a company. So we decided it’s time to create a guide to help out anyone curious about chest binding! (Sorry it took us so long!) So, welcome to Chest Binding 101, a comprehensive guide designed to empower FTM, non-binary folks, and anyone else who wants to bind on their journey toward self-acceptance and comfort.
The purpose of binding is to help people with gender dysphoria feel more like themselves in their bodies. The goal is to flatten out chest tissue to present a more masc appearance or something that’s more aligned with one’s authentic expression of their true identity. In this guide, we'll delve into safe and effective methods, potential risks, and practical tips to help the beginner chest binder have a positive binding experience.
The Benefits of Chest Binding
Chest binding is the practice of compressing breast tissue to create a flatter appearance and is a common choice for those seeking a more masculine or less feminine look. Binding is for everyone- including transgender men and nonbinary people. But binding is not limited to any one identity or gender.
Chest binding can be a transformative practice for many people with gender dysphoria who are seeking a more authentic expression of their identity. Gender dysphoria means that you don’t feel aligned with the body that you were born into (we at OC feel this too!)
So a common practice for those seeking gender affirmation is to wear compression garments that help give the physical silhouette that feels more like themselves. Creating a presentation that’s more aligned with your true self has many positive benefits for transgender, nonbinary, and genderfluid individuals.
- Reduction of Gender Dysphoria
For some, breasts can act as a constant visual reminder of an assigned sex at birth. Chest binding offers a practical solution to alleviate gender dysphoria, providing individuals with a means to present a flatter chest, aligning their physical appearance with their gender identity.
- Positive Impact on Mental Health
While negative physical effects are possible, many individuals experience positive mental health benefits from chest binding. Binding has profound psychological effects, the biggest one being a sense of alignment and presentation with one's true gender identity.
Studies show that binding can help decrease feelings of anxiety, depression, and suicidality, while simultaneously boosting confidence and self-esteem. This suggests that, for many, the mental and emotional benefits of chest binding can be life-changing.
- Social Affirmation
Beyond personal comfort, chest binding often leads to more accurate gender perception in social situations. The feel and fit of clothing can be radically altered by binding, allowing a binder wearer to fit into traditional “men’s” clothing more comfortably.
Achieving a flatter chest can also contribute to being correctly gendered in public, providing a sense of social affirmation and reducing misgendering. This aspect of binding can help people feel more comfortable and confident in their daily interactions.
Potential Risks and Side Effects of Chest Binding
Despite the mental and emotional benefits, it's crucial to talk about the potential risks and side effects associated with chest binding. If binding is done improperly, with a cheap or poorly fit binder, without listening to your body, or without breaks, it can cause serious health issues.
Safe and Effective Tips for Choosing a Chest Binder
When you’re trying out chest binding for the first time, it’s really important to find a binder that’s right for your body. Binders are compression garments, and if they fit improperly or are made of materials that don’t keep you safe, they can cause injury or even long-term health issues. So these chest binding tips are here to keep you safe!
- Get a Binder That’s The Correct Size
Every body is different, and if you don’t have a binder that fits you well, it can cause pinching and chaffing, hinder your breathing, and in extreme cases even cause broken ribs. Finding a correctly sized binder is the number one thing you can do to contribute to safety, comfort, and overall effectiveness.
Here are Origami Customs we’ve solved that problem by giving FREE custom sizes for all our binders, so everything fits you perfectly. It’s just one of the things we do to help keep you safe! But if you’re going to buy another brand binder that’s not custom-fit, make sure you read all the sizing charts clearly and make sure it will fit as closely as possible. And if it arrives and it doesn’t fit well, and especially if it cuts you or is too tight, send it back. It’s not worth it to live with a binder that will affect your health.
- Choose a Binder That Has Stretch Materials
The type of stretch that your binder has is also important to your health. You want to binder that will compress your breast materials but will allow your chest to expand as you breathe and let you move easily. Many cheaper binders use non-strech materials or a combination of the two and this can cause breathing and back issues over time. So one of the key things to look for in a binder is if it’s made out of stretch non-stretch materials. Feel where your rib cage is and how you breathe in and out. Minimally around those areas, there should be fabric that stretches with you.
At Origami we only use materials that have a tried and tested amount of stretch, so that we don’t have to worry about your safety. We also find that having material that’s not rigid around your back and shoulders also limits back and shoulder pain. It also lets you do more intense activities like working out without worrying about injury. But if you’re buying binders elsewhere, the rule of thumb is that If you receive a binder and it doesn’t move with you or hurts as you breathe, send it back.
- Choose a Binder That Breathes
Breathable fabric is another thing that will help you stay healthy while chest binding. Most stretch fabrics won’t be natural fibers, but you can choose a fiber that lets air pass, rather than a vinyl or plastic. Having a breathable fabric with your chest binder will help with skin issues like acne or chafing. It will also help you keep from overheating, which is important since a binder is generally worn under your clothes.
Companies will have to list what fabrics a binder is made out of. And if you don’t know about the properties of a type of fabric, Google it! At Origami we test all of our fabrics for breathability and safety at your highest level of activity, such as working out or swimming. Again, our goal is to keep you as safe as possible!
Practical Tips for Healthy Chest Binding
Even when you have the perfect binder, there are still some things that you can do to keep yourself even safer! So here are some practical tips for maintaining health while chest binding.
- Limiting Binding Time
We know that it feels great to get the affirmation from binding. However, limiting binding time to 8-12 hours a day will help you prevent potential negative side effects. Just like you do at the end of your workday, your ribs and back also need a chance to relax! Take those down times during your day like watching TV or sleeping to give your body a break from binding. And stretch whenever out of your binder! It will help keep you healthy in the long run.
- Safe Binding During Exercise
Make sure you use binders that have good stretch and breathability during activities like workouts, singing, and swimming. While Origami Customs binders are safe for all these things, binders that have harsher materials may not be safe. Choose appropriate binders that allow for free movement and breathing during movement-based activities.
- Take Breaks
I know it may sound simple, but we can’t say it enough! Taking regular breaks is a simple yet effective practice to maintain overall health during chest binding. Listen to your body, watch out for pain, and allow your body the necessary rest periods to prevent potential complications. You’re putting your body under stress. Be kind to it!
- Self-Checks and Awareness
Encourage regular self-checks and heightened awareness. Knowing your body, understanding potential risks, and staying vigilant contribute significantly to a safe and effective chest binding practice. If you’re in pain while binding, or have trouble breathing, take a break.
Chest binding is a deeply personal journey, a method through which individuals across the gender spectrum find comfort, affirmation, and a truer alignment with their identity. This practice is more than a physical alteration; it's a powerful tool for navigating the complexities of gender expression.
Understanding the options available to you will help you make informed choices tailored to your needs. Doing your research about the binders before you buy will save you a lot of pain in the future. Stretching, taking breaks, and being vigilant about sizing and materials will help with your long-term safety and comfort.
While we celebrate the positive impacts on mental well-being, the reduction of gender dysphoria, and the social affirmation that chest binding can provide, it's crucial to acknowledge the potential risks and side effects. By staying informed, embracing safe practices, and seeking professional guidance, individuals can balance the empowering aspects of chest binding with a commitment to their overall health!
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