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 Post subject: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:20 am 
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Saggy Butt

Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:08 pm
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Right, where to start... I do a bit of sixteenth century re-enactment and am just getting to the point where I might go out and demonstrate things for the public rather than just taking part in informal events within the group (where accuracy isn't important).
I would prefer to portray a male, as there are more opportunities for combat and just because it appeals to me. However, I am female and have big hips, bottom, thighs and breasts and a small waist so it is a little difficult to pass as a man. There are things we have done with the costume which help, like choosing a particular style of trouser-things and not fitting the upper garment in to my natural waist, but I thought if I could somehow squash my breasts a bit it would help a lot!
I am cisgendered and quite like my breasts so I don't want to do anything that will permanently affect them- I'm sure I read a mention that binding to produce boyish figures in the 1920s somehow damaged or weakened the tissues so that breasts were left sagging. I'm not sure how that would work- I'd have thought more support would be good- but I want to make sure I'm not going to permanently change anything or put myself at risk of harm by cutting off the circulation or something.

I had some vague idea binding was usually done with bandages, but does it matter what sort? And then someone posted a link to an article about 'binder' exchange, so it seems there is an actual garment to do the job. And that article briefly said "many people who can't access a binder use Ace bandages or duct tape instead, which can cause health problems." I can see that duct ape would be a bad idea, but is the issue with bandages just that they may be wrapped too tightly?

I'm not having much luck searching for stuff- I think I fail at search skills in general- and what I can find is either things like ehow that are of doubtful reliability or stuff specifically aimed at FTM which is interesting but doesn't address my worries about possible permanent effects.
So, do any knowlegable PPKers have advice or good websites/instructions they could link me to?

By the way, I don't have internet access at home for the foreseeable future so am using computers at my local library. Please mark links if possibly not suitable for public viewing! I can see that a lot of this will be a bit not-safe-for-work if there are pictorial instructions or ads for fake genitals on the page, so if there is a useful site like that I can go to my friends house to look at it. Just mark it so I don't open the site and surprise other library users!

I hope that makes some sort of sense. Any advice would be much appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:31 am 
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Kitchens Planning Manchester
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Don't use ace bandages! They are made to immobilize a joint which means they get tighter as you move. You don't want to do that to your breasts. I totally wrote that article you're talking about, I think.

Here's a guide directed toward trans guys about binding: http://www.ftmguide.org/binding.html (just text, safe for work)

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 Post subject: Re: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:43 am 
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Duct tape over saran wrap does work but dang it hurts! I hadn't thought about the idea of tissue damage. MAybe using some circulation promoting lotions before and after binding is a good idea!

There is a binder company that even has hip binders, actually! (underworks listed on that page)

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 Post subject: Re: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:17 pm 
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Should Write a Goddam Book Already
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Ok, so long-term binder wearer weighing in here: if you're just wearing a binder occasionally, it probably isn't going to do much (if any) long-term damage in terms of breast tissue and stuff. In about three years of binding daily I haven't noticed a heap of difference, but I guess with the way that my chest is shaped it's less obvious, and everyone's body is different. Like strawberryrock said, definitely don't use ace bandages (or any other bandages) though! They restrict breathing and movement too much, and I've heard horror stories about cracked ribs etc.

You could start by looking into fairly tight/supportive sports bras, if you haven't already. Enell (http://www.enell.com/) make a good one, people I know use that. I've used one by Triumph (the "triaction" non-wired bra: http://www.triumph.com/au/en/456.html#.UIhZ1IVmEy4) in a size or two too small, and that works fairly well to minimise the appearance of my chest (but really doesn't work to make my chest totally flat). I'm in Australia, though, and not sure how available they are internationally?

In terms of actual chest binders, Underworks (http://ftm.underworks.com/ - no pics of prosthetics or anything on here, although there are some nude male torsos) is a good company to go with for a larger-chested person (this is my experience). I wouldn't go for one of their full-length ones, as they're pretty uncomfortable and restrict your breathing and digestion a lot more than the half-length ones, although some people find that they're good for shaping hips/making hips appear smaller.

Know that wearing a binder is likely to restrict your breathing somewhat, and will probably feel uncomfortable. Because it's compressing my chest, I find that it restricts my ability to take a full breath, and after a full day of wearing one, I am very very keen to take it off for the evening. I stopped wearing the full-length one because I found that it restricted my breathing far too much, and it was also difficult after eating a big meal (really really uncomfortable).

I guess that the other thing you could do would be to look into drag king resources? I don't know of any offhand, but it's worth a search, as they're more likely to be aimed as cis women than trans men.

Hopefully that helps! If you've got any other questions, I'm totally happy for you to PM me.

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 Post subject: Re: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:45 pm 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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i would totally check out a tight sports bra, i have one that makes my boobs look like an A or a small B-cup (i am a D-cup naturally. if you wear a tight sports top on top of that (i have a few that flattens my chest even more than the bra on its own), i think you may have reached the limit of how much you can flatten your boobs without damaging tissue. i mean, they probably can't completely disappear, they have quite a lot of volume!


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 Post subject: Re: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:36 am 
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Saggy Butt

Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:08 pm
Posts: 1150
Thanks so much everyone.

I didn't know what Ace bandages were; that does sound dangerous. I had thought bandages might be easier than buying a proper binder since it is only for the odd occasion, but that sounds like it isn't the case. And actually clothes last me a long time and I'll be using this 3 times a year plus any events we go to, which will hopefully be regular now, so I will get enough use to justify buying something. Now to just try things out... I have tried in vain to get a properly supportive sports bra but I'll start by looking into that again.

Thanks for the thoughts about full-length binders and restriction/discomfort, Gunk. Part of the reason I made male costume was because I thought most of the time I'm using it I'll either be fighting (lots of breathing and movement needed) or eating eight course feasts, so I didn't want a corset! But actually on borrowing female clothing for an event I found that style of corset (which is only around the ribs) to be easy to get used to. You breathe down into your tummy like a singer. Hopefully chest-only binding will be similar.

The idea of hip binders scares me a bit. Are hips not mainly pelvis? That's not squishable! I suppose everyone is shaped differently though and some people do deposit more fat on the hips.
Another re-enactor advises against women wearing codpieces as she thinks they make the hips more obvious, but I'm not sure if she means the shape or the movement (apparently most male-bodied people are incapable of moving their shoulders without moving their hips. I find this difficult to believe, but "women's hips" seems to have been a big problem in twenty years or so of teaching women to fight).

And drag king stuff might be good to look up. I hadn't thought of that. Whenever I think of transvestism I think of people dressing as women, I don't know if that is more shocking so is discussed more or what.

I love the breadth of knowlege on the PPK.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 11:24 am 
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Lactose Intolerant...Literally
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As a young person in middle and high school, I hated regular bras, but couldn't get away with not wearing one, so I wore sports bras all the time. I'm fairly certain it changed the way my breasts are, and not to the positive.

Be careful.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:13 pm 
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Whatever you go with, if it's tight enough, after you've put it on you can reach up in there underneath the binder/sports bra and move your breasts around to a less noticeable position too, like maybe smooshing them out to the sides or something.

And as a teen I used ace style bandages a lot and I found them just fine, because if you wrap it fairly loose and only do one-ish layer, sure it's meant to support a joint or whatever and stay tight but there's really not much it can do if you wrap it like that. I have a feeling most people with bandage troubles are wrapping really tightly.

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 Post subject: Re: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:22 pm 
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Baking In The Flavor
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Location: Phoenix
Anecdotal: I have one of those Underworks compression tank tops to wear under button down shirts. It is one of the longer ones, so I hoped it would help make my tummy look a bit more taut but it just rolls up after a couple hours because my pot belly can't be tamed. The upper part was very comfortable, but I don't think I could fool anyone in a tight shirt, and I'm only a B cup. It is pretty comfortable, except I don't care for the swimsuit-like material.

For flatter hips maybe wear some spanx under your pantaloons or whatever trousers your costume requires.

I cannot see how binders or sports bras could be any more damaging than bras, and they are far more comfortable. That isn't to say they are totally safe, it may be more a statement about bras. Anything too tight would be a bad idea over long periods, I just wonder why there are more scare stories about binding than about too-tight bras, which are very common.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice about chest binding?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:44 pm 
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Huffs Nutritional Yeast
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If binding too tight is dangerous, could you bind less tight and add some padding to the skinny parts of your body to balance it out? To be fair, I don't know much about the re-enacting you are doing, so I am picturing renaissance fair style armor... I also know less about the female body than I do about your re-enacting so ignore me if i'm way out in left field :)


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