Short chest binders: How to use them in a safe way
Whether you like to flatten your chest every once in a while or are dealing with dysphoria, chest binding requires the right materials and techniques to do it in a safe way. Read further to find out more about Danaë’s short chest binder, choosing the right size and my before-and-after pictures.
What is a chest binder and why would I use it?
Chest binder, FtM binder, breast binder, or whatever you like to name it is a garment to flatten your chest. It can have the form of a top, a bra or a shirt and is made out of an elastic material. It fits tightly around the upper body spreading the mass of the chesticles to make them look more flat.
A binder can be used for different kinds of reasons like gender transition, cosplay performance or as a part of surgery recovery.
Please note: household items such as duct tape or bandages are able to cause some serious damage like rib fractures and are therefore not materials you should use to bind your chest.
What should I pay attention to when buying one?
Choosing the right size is very important. Buying a binder that is too small can be dangerous and may lead to skin damage, back pain, breathing problems or even permanently warped ribs.
Wearing a binder is generally not a comfortable thing to do, but if it hurts, cuts or hinders your breathing, it’s definitely too tight. A binder should fit like a second skin around your body. To choose the right size you should consult the manufacturer’s size chart. To measure the body you have to measure the widest part of your chest, underneath your chest and from shoulder to shoulder.
Buying a high quality binder will not only reduce the risks for your body, it will also minimize pain, discomfort, sweating and irritation.
How should I use a binder?
Putting on a binder might be kind of a struggle since the materials are very rigid. This is perfectly normal. There are however some techniques to make it easier.
The most common way is to put it on by pulling it overhead, but if you’re new to this it might be easier to do it a different way. Start with your binder inside out and upside down. Step into it and pull it up until your waistline. Next you can pull the handles up to your shoulders and put your arms through the sleeve holes.
People who have big shoulders, a big chest or who are plus size, might struggle more with both of the techniques. If it would be the case; try to have somebody that you feel safe with to help you when you try to put on your binder for the first time and when you’re about to take it off again.
When you’ve managed to get your binder on, it’s time to adjust your chest. Depending on your personal preference, you can push your chesticles down and/or to the side.
Our bodies are not made to be under this kind of pressure 24/7. Make sure to give your body a break every once in a while. Generally spoken you should not wear a binder for more than 8 hours a day and six days in a row to avoid bruising and other more severe side effects. If this is your first time binding, start with a couple of hours to adjust to the feeling. When wearing a new binder, start with 1 to maximum 3 hours a day until the fabric becomes less rigid.
Do not go to sleep with your binder on.
Cleaning your binder
The best way to make your binder last longer, is to hand wash it. If you do however want to machine wash it, make sure to put it on a gentle cycle using cold water only. Do not use bleach, it will affect the elasticity. If you want to avoid having a stained binder, opt for a black one instead.
Don’t tumble dry, unless the binder has started to become too stretchy. If that’s the case, you can dry it for an absolute maximum of 15 minutes.
I myself didn't have any experience on wearing a binder and I have the luxury of being cisgender and comfortable in my body. I was however very curious about wearing the Danaë basic binder and here are the results:
On the first picture I'm wearing a regular sportsbra, on the second one I'm wearing Danaë's basic binder
I am wearing the medium sized one. Except for some uncomfortable pressure I didn't feel anything such as pain or fabric cutting into my skin. I kept it on for a couple of hours. The fabric didn't move during that time and I had no other complaints than a little discomfort.
Because I had a breast enlargement my chesticles are more firm and therefore more difficult to camouflage. Even though I already think the binder is doing an amazing job flattening my chest, the effect could be even better on others.
Danaë’s short chest binder
Danaë's short chest binder is available on Bold Humans in size XS-XXL for €49,95. The product is made in the Netherlands with fabrics produced in Germany.
Danaë Trans-Missie is a Dutch company founded by Danaë Kurvers when she experienced what problems transgender men face due to the transition of her brother. Danaë is also offering a size XXXL and customized binders.
- Guidelines for chest binding amid COVID-19
- Wearing a light, preferably cotton, shirt or tanktop underneath your binder may increase comfort and may prevent your binder from moving around if that would be the case. It’s also helpful to prevent you from having skin rashes and irritations caused by sweat.
- Another way to deal with sweating is to apply baby powder or something similar before you put on your binder. This will absorb the moisture. However don’t do this if you already have skin damage of some sort.
- Speaking of baby powder… This might also come in handy when struggling putting on your binder.
- A regular chest binder is not designed to use during sports since it can make movement and breathing more difficult.
- Don’t feel too disappointed about what you see when you look down. This is giving you a false idea on what you really look like. Put on your favourite shirt and look at yourself in the mirror instead.
All the kind people who offered me their help by reviewing this text and by sharing their own experiences. Thank you. ♡
In 2018 the first study on the benefits and downsides of chest binding has been published. You can read the results here:
Because I do understand not everybody is financially able to buy a binder or find one in their size, here is some additional information on alternatives: