a layer between the shirt and heart
Welcome back! We’re vibing to Hozier tonight, so please excuse me if I get poetic on y’all - I honestly blame him. Anyways, let’s jump into the topic I’ve been dying to discuss for months, binding.
For those who don’t know, a common way of elevating dysphoria for anyone born female is to bind, or flatten the chest. Most do this through an under layer called a binder. A quick google will answer any questions you may have about them, but here’s my story with binding;
My first binder was worn to the point of fading and holes, but I treasured it like gold. A friend of mine had reached out, and asked if I’d like to try his for a couple days to see how I felt. The next morning, he passed it under a stall in the dreaded girl’s bathroom, and I wiggled my shoulders into it for the first time. At the time, I had no idea that this article of clothing was something I’d grow to wear daily for the next year.
The binder was wearing out to the point that it honestly didn’t do much for me, but I didn’t care or know any better. For these first couple months, the shelter of having it on my person every day was enough to calm my anxieties and made me feel like me. Months later, this same friend got me a binder of my own - it was a nude that matched my skin, and was unworn and tight still. I sobbed my eyes out the first time I looked in the mirror.
In the year since then, I’ve passed along that first black binder to another friend, and had the same experience of watching him grow more comfortable in himself and his identity. I eventually traded him the black binder for a nude of his own, which gave me the chance to both order a binder of my own for the first time, and share the love I felt upon getting my own binder with someone else who I care about. My first binder sits in my drawer, worn thin, only worn when someone’s sick (it’s passed between the three of us now). The love and protection I first felt when I pulled that binder over my shoulders stands strong, and hits me in the face every morning as I get dressed.
My little collection has grown to include a color now, as I've started to take more pride in who I am and thought of the binder less as a hindrance and more of a piece of my identity. Sitting (unworn, because I’m not about to waste the new binder look in my house, of course) in my drawer is an olive green binder, which I was hoping to wear to pride this year. With pride canceled, I’m not sure when it’ll be shown off, but I love it and everything it stands for.
I’m sick of hiding behind my nude binder, trying to pretend it’s not a piece of who I am. Naturally, that’s not every day’s emotion. Most days I pull it on and hide everything beneath a somewhat baggy teeshirt, pretending the layer underneath doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there, wrapped around my chest, working it’s hardest to keep my dysphoria at bay. So I guess the best way to end this would be to thank the boy who first reached out and offered to lend me his old binder. I never could’ve expected the way it changed my life, to see my body the way I’d always wanted it to be. The comfort of seeing that is something I can’t even begin to put into words.
Bind safely, friends.