So over the holidays, I received a couple of new binders, so here is a review of how to bind and of the binders themselves. Whenever you approach something like binding, it is important to remember that it can be dangerous. You can damage your ribs or badly restrict your breathing. The most important thing is to listen to your body. Binding can hurt to an extent, but pain should never be to a level at which you must endure it. If your body is saying you have gone too far, always respond. Binding is a regular part of my life. It makes me more comfortable with myself and my image, but I have never pushed it to the point of hurting myself. I bind in a way which is comfortable and safe for me. It is important to be free of that restriction at some points in the day.
That being said, there are certain ways to go about things. First, I never recommend using an ace bandage to bind. The material is made to constrict and immobilize. Most injuries from binding are caused by ace bandages. Second, analyze your body type to discover what type of binding will be best for you. Some people can even wear baggy shirts or multiple layers without binding and still present a masculine chest. Third, work to find a method with which you are comfortable. You might have to try many different ways, but it is always worth it to find a way you are comfortable with on a day to day basis because for some of us, this is a life choice. Being uncomfortable everyday should not be a part of that.
Besides the baggy shirt approach, a couple of other effective ways to bind stand out. For some, a compression shirt (the most common brand is Under Armour) is enough. Made of a tight fabric which is meant to stretch, the compression of the fabric can create a binding effect for some. These shirts can be found everywhere in the athletic section of stores in sleeveless or short or long sleeved versions for under different types of clothing. Even if a compression shirt does not create the effect you want, I do always recommend it as a base layer under any binding device which is built like a bra or does not reach down past the belly button. This layer prevents any rubbing or discomfort which would often be a side effect of these devices.
The next approach for binding would be the professionally made binder. There are a couple of really great sites out there from which to order these products, even some built specifically for swimming. Binders come in many styles: from bra length to shirt length, binding material created by tight elastic across the chest or by elastic which is pulled tight and then velcroed. Each design has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Shirt length binders tend to be more comfortable, but they can roll up since most are not made with the binding material all the way through. Bra-like binders tend to be less comfortable, but provide a better overall binding effect. Elastic binding is more efficient and quick, but it can stretch out and does not bind as well. Adding the Velcro provides a reinforcement which can provide a better binding effect, but Velcro also degrades quickly with continued use.
So on to the reviews. First up: Model 801 from T-Kingdom, a bra-length binder made of Lycra with a front zipper. The zipper ensures you do not need to perform any sort of contortion to get into it. It is easy to position, does not roll up, and is comfortable enough to wear all day and not really notice it. The binding effect is perfect for my needs: not to the point of discomfort but still creating the illusion of a male chest which is good enough for tight shirts. The material seems to be durable, and the problem of the binder stretching out has yet to arise. By wearing a compression shirt under the binder, I have no issues with rubbing or really any discomfort. Overall, this binder is my favorite of those I have had, and I would definitely recommend it.
Next up: Model 980 from T-Kingdom, a shirt-length binder with a t-back. Mostly, I tend to prefer the shirt length binders, but this one is just built awkwardly. The elastic binding material is not cut to fit the body quite right, material poking out under the armpits to rub. Generally, it is uncomfortable, which I would be willing to deal with the one time a week I would wear it if it was an effective binder, but it is not. Although the elastic stretches around the chest, the t-back of the straps does not support a good binding effect. It could be my body type is just not meant for this design, but taking a look at the actual design, the t-back seems to be the source of the problem. Personally, I would not recommend this product.
Hopefully this information has been useful. If you have any questions about binding or binders, feel free to message me or address it in the comments. If anyone has experience with these products, please share your impressions. Below are provided the links for both products.
Note: Today will be my last Wednesday post. I start a new schedule at work which will prevent me from being at my computer on Wednesday nights, so look for Exploring Gender on Sundays starting this weekend. As ever, thanks for reading and stay strong.