Breast binding

Breast binding

Breast binding is the material used in, or the act of flattening breasts by the use of constrictive materials.

Common binding materials include cloth strips, elastic or non-elastic bandage, use of purpose-built undergarments (often using Spandex or other synthetic fibre) or simple layering of shirts, from tight to loose.



There are many reasons people would want to bind:

With women there are additional reasons for binding. Several famous women have used binding to help pass as male in their male-dominated societies, and even (as in the case of Joan of Arc) to be accepted as a soldier.

Some adolescent girls bind their breasts as they enter puberty. This is done usually for reasons of modesty (they do not want others to see them), embarrassment (they do not want others to know they have started developing), or desire to be as they previously were (they do not want to have breasts yet). This has potential risks, as the developing tissue may conform to the restricted shape, resulting in permanent deformity. Breast binding in adolescent girls may be a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder.[1]

Men may also find cause to bind if afflicted with gynecomastia as a means to control appearance in place of surgery or during the wait before surgery. In a related vein, transgendered individuals and intersex people who want to "pass" for male would commonly bind. Male-to-female transsexuals who have undergone surgery to get breasts may bind to have continued acceptance as male during transition, for example, at work where co-workers may be unaware of the transition. Female-to-male transsexuals may bind either as an alternative to, or before, having top surgery (mastectomy) to help appear male.


There are many different methods of binding, but two cheap methods are wearing a sports bra or swimming suit top that is a few sizes too small underneath normal clothes, or pushing them firmly against the chest and putting masking tape over them. This method also has the advantage of blending with different skin tones (due to different types of tape), but can be painful and irritating to the skin underneath, especially if one has large breasts. A less common way of binding is using a specially fitted binding bra, however these can be expensive and are not widely stocked.


Different time periods of history have had differing viewpoints on the female form, including widespread use of corsets throughout western European history up to the Victorian era. The Japanese kimono can be considered a very elaborate form of binding, although the obi (belt) goes around the lower torso, not the chest. In addition, many Catholic nuns up until the 1930s were required to wear a linen breast binding under their garments in addition to their everyday vestments. Clergy claimed that this measure was designed to eliminate any potential distraction that the nuns' breasts might cause. In many ecclesiastical specialty shops, it is still possible to purchase antique linen breast bindings that have been hand-embroidered with crosses. Wearing a minimizer bras is common to help with large breasts.

See also


Further reading

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