I do not do shows as often as I use to back when I started, but I did do a few shows this past December. One thing that has not changed, is binding techniques and how often kings get it wrong. There are ways to bind and ways not to because binding can cause serious damage. I will go through the list of what is used, whether you should or shouldn’t use each method, and the best way to go about the method. I will not cover open shirt binding since that in its self will be an entire blog. I will try and cover that for next week. So let’s start.
The most common mistake I see people do is use an ace bandage and/or duct tape. First duct tape against skin can cause serious damage to your skin and can rip it off. Do not apply duct tape to your skin. To use an ace bandage, you just merely wrap it around your chest, positioning your chest comfortably underneath. Some also apply the duct tape over the ace bandage. Either way, it is also very, very dangerous. Whenever I see kings using an ace bandage, I stop them and talk to them about the dangers of using one. Kings that are not trans* often do not understand or know of the risks that come with binding. Such as muscle atrophy and rib cage malformation. I would never suggest ever using this method of binding. I only mention it here as a guide to correct oneself if it is being used.
Sports bras are also as a binding technique. Just get the smallest size comfortable for you and still lets you breath. Using two on top of each other is also common for bigger chested kings. Again, I have seen some who have used duct tape over a sports bra. I urge you not to do so as it is very dangerous. This method when used properly for a show is ok. Just remember to relax by removing the binding after a few hours if you will be expected to stay in drag for longer. Never bind for more than eight hours.
Back braces, abdominal trimmer, and compression shirts can also be used. These are used less frequent but are a cheap method. I do not have much experience in using or seeing kings who have used these, but I am sure they follow the same binding safety precautions as any binding method.
The best and safest way to bind is to use a binder (ftm binder, gynecomastia binder). Most binder sites have a size chart and such. Do not go smaller thinking it will conceal or bind you better. It will only cause breathing problems and other serious issues already mentioned. Each of mine was purchased from Underworks, the 983 style. I prefer and recommend the tri-top styles over the full length ones since it reduces the chance of rolling. The full length ones, even when tucked in and layered upon, tend to roll up and be very uncomfortable. Also, extra layers on the front are better, the single layers do not bind well.
Here are the links to the two most common and cheaper binder sites since I do not know any that sell in stores.
Underworks: ftm.underworks.com or drag-king.underworks.com
No matter the method or technique used for binding, they all carry the same risks and dangers. So be cautious. Do not bind for longer than roughly eight hours. Doing so will cause muscle atrophy and/or rib cage malformation. Do not sleep in any binding. Doing so will cause sleep apnea. Bruising and breathing problems can also occur. Always be careful when binding. Never go too tight either. If you cannot breathe while just standing after just putting on binding, then how will you breathe while performing? Not very well. Nor is it good for you. Layers will help in binding and concealing so do not think that going as tight as possible will flatten you enough for the show. Be cautious, and just wear an under shirt (normal white or black t-shirt) and/or beater over your binding before your shirt for your performance. That will give you more wiggle room to wear a more comfortable binding.
As usual, if you have any questions on binding, whether to use something or not, or just any king related question, then feel free to ask in the comment section below or just email myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or GFB at Genderfuk.email@example.com.
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