Chest Binding Life Hacks for FTM
Chest binding doesn't have to be overly complicated, especially if you are new to the process. In general, binding one's chest is one of the easiest, least permanent, and most inexpensive methods for transgender or gender non-conforming people to express their identities. These days, you will find a wealth of information online. That said, it is often hard to sift through it all or to know which actual chest binding tips will work. That said, in order to help you express your gender identity and safely bind your chest, here are a few chest binding life hacks for FTM or gender non-conforming individuals.
Look for Custom Sizing
One of the best life hacks for chest binding is you should find a company that offers custom sizing. You will often find one size fits all chest binders or compression garments that claim to fit based on your bra size or measurements. But in reality, everybody's body type is different; therefore, to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the day, it is worth paying a little extra for a custom made or tailored binder.
Take Time To Adjust
At first, you may experience body or gender dysphoria with chest binding. The reality is that you may not be used to having a flat or masculine-looking chest. As a result, give yourself a break and allow yourself the time you need to adjust to your new shape. Ideally, after a couple of days, you should feel more comfortable while binding, and catching a glimpse of yourself will be less of a shock, especially if you have gone from a larger chest to binding.
Remember That Putting on and Removing Your Binder Might Feel Impossible at First
A brand new chest binder out of the box will be formfitting, to say the least. Binders are typically made of unyielding layers of material. As a result, it may be beneficial to have someone assist you in putting on your binder for the first couple of times. Likewise, if you need assistance getting out of your compression garments, then don't be afraid to ask your partner or a friend for help. The good news is over time, your binder will give a little, and it will be much easier to get your compression garments on and off without any help or assistance.
Know That Length Matters
Another life hack when it comes to binding is to go with longer binders, especially if you would like some compression on your stomach. Often with binders, you are tucking in areas of your body that will look smoother with the help of additional material. Having the additional material that comes with longer binders basically makes them similar to shapewear, which can be a good thing. That said, you should make sure you always wear a tank top underneath a traditional binder to prevent slippage or possible chafing of the skin—when you sweat a lot.
Prepared For Heat
Speaking of sweating, another thing to keep in mind is warmer weather or the summer months because if you purchased a thicker binder, you will be slightly hot. Overall, binding often means wearing at least two layers of clothing so just be prepared to sweat through your binder possibly. If you aren't okay with the idea of sweating through your binder on particularly hot days, you may want to consider wearing a sports bra, so you aren't completely restricted. Note, since you will likely be sweating in your binder, you must clean it on a regular basis. It is highly recommended that you follow the care instructions on your binders' inside label, which typically suggests that you wash them on the delicate cycle.
Change Your Fashion Choices
An important thing to keep in mind when binding is that your fashion choices may change to accommodate your compression garments, and that's okay. Usually, people tend to layer when they wear chest binders, and thus button-up shirts or flannel shirts are likely going to be your best friends. Of course, if you would prefer to show off your binder, that's completely up to you. What's more, it's important to know that it's not your binder or nothing at all. There are a variety of compression garments, shirts, tank tops, and sports bras that will allow you to look and feel your best while binding.
Get Ready to Make Adjustments
It will likely take some time before you know how to fit all your body parts comfortably into your binder garment. So, don't be afraid to reposition things or adjust your binder. Remember, pain shouldn't be associated with binding.
Learn to be Okay with Never Being Completely Flat
If you have a larger bust, binding may not be the answer to looking completely flat on top. If binding doesn't give you the results, you were hoping for, refrain from improvising. Doubling-up or using household remedies (elastic bandages, duct tape, ace bandages, etc.) or wearing binders that are too tight will only cause harm or injury. Instead, consider wearing baggier clothes, layering shirts, or putting on a jacket or blazer to help achieve your desired look. Alternatively, if you aren't interested in long term binding, you may want to consider top surgery instead.
Listen To Your Body
Last but not least, you need to listen to your body. If your chest binder is too tight or you are noticing redness, shortness of breath, back pain, swelling, skin irritation, or bruising, then these are health concerns or signs you shouldn't ignore. Other things to look out for are dehydration due to excessive sweating and soreness on your binder-free days. If you experience any of the above, then it's time to rethink your current binder—it may be too tight or the wrong size. Then again, you may be wearing it every day or for too long (more than eight hours or a max of 12 hours) or sleeping in it, which you should never do.