Breast binding is the material used in, or the act of reducing visible breast size in, both women and men through the use of constrictive materials.
Common binding materials include:
There are many reasons men and women would want to bind:
With women there are additional reasons for binding. Several famous women including Joan of Arc may have used binding to help pass as male in their male-dominated societies, and in the case of Joan of Arc, to be accepted as a soldier.
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. 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.
Many adolescent girls bind their breasts as they begin to develop to hide them. 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).
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, transsexuals and intersexed people who want to "pass" for male would commonly bind. Male-to-female transsexuals 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 before having top surgery (mastectomy) to help appear male.
This article is based on "Breast binding" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Breast+binding&action=history