My name is Raven. I’m from Brooklyn, New York.
My freshman year of high school, I went to a school that was pretty gay. So when I moved to North Carolina my second year, my sophomore year in high school, I was probably one of maybe five gay kids. I remember watching “The L Word” on Showtime really, really late at night and just seeing these women that like other women. And I – before then I had – I knew that I was gay but I didn’t know – I didn’t know that I could be confident and be gay.
I remember there was an episode of the character Max and his storyline was pretty much from becoming this woman to a man. And I remember seeing him bind his breasts. And I remember thinking that maybe that could be a way that I could use to help make sense of how I felt about my body. So I’m just going through high school with this discomfort and not anybody to confide in. And I walked around with a lot of anger because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know who to come to.
There was this one instance where in my senior year during the pep rally, my guidance counselor was like, “You know, your graduation – you can’t wear a hoodie and sneakers and jeans. You’re gonna have to – you’re gonna have to figure out something else. You’re gonna have to wear a dress, be formal. You cannot come as you are.” I felt like she was telling me I couldn’t be myself. I felt like she was telling me to be someone else and then come to prom and graduation. And, yeah, I felt like she was trying to erase me.
I went outside and I cried in front the cafeteria while everybody was at the pep rally. I remember a friend coming to check on me, but I didn’t – I didn’t tell her that that was why I was crying. It didn’t even click to just be honest and be vulnerable.
So I graduated, moved back to New York and for a while I felt relieved and felt like I could be myself. But again, like, these insecurities weren’t addressed so I carried them with me to New York. So I was watching an episode of The L Word one night and I remembered that this person was binding their breasts and I’m like, oh, maybe I should try that out. I don’t really like my breasts that much anyway. At first, I had one ace bandage and I realized that my breast slid out of the bottom, so I bought another one. So I would wrap, pretty much, like around to where I couldn’t be wrapped anymore, like just before my breast fell out the bottom, and then I would wrap from like… I would just wrap the rest until just a little bit over my rib cage, but not too too tight but tight enough where they were flat.
I ended up going out to a club with some friends one night and I saw somebody that I knew and I, like, gasped from, like, excitement from seeing this person. And I collapsed in her arms. And she asked me whether or not I was okay and I was like, “I’m just happy to see you, girl.” It was like I was choking.
So I went to the bathroom and I’m thinking I’m like. You should go home. You should unwrap this and go home. So I’m on my way home and I’m cursing myself out. And I’m just, like, I can’t wait to get home so I can, like, free myself. So I get home and pretty much, like, standing in front of the mirror undressing and taking off these bandages. I’m just, like, looking at myself. And there’s prints from just the bandage and it’s, like, under my arms, on my chest. And I’m just pretty much taking it all in and coming to the realization that I could have killed myself. I was pretty much just admiring myself in the mirror and just taking in – just taking in my reflection.
So this is it around the time where my self-care started to come into play. So every day was just, like, what can we do today? “We” as in me, myself and I. What can we do today to, like, feel comfortable in this body? I was clear that I didn’t want to be a man and I was becoming more accepting of myself as a woman that was masculine-presenting with a few very, very feminine traits here and there. So I pretty much gave myself permission to, like, redefine my life and who I am as a masculine presenting woman that likes other women.
My relationship with my body today is way more healthier. I’m not the same person that I was 10 years ago binding my breasts. I don’t bind my breasts anymore because I like my body now.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with like binding – binding your breasts or binding parts of your body. But as long as you’re doing it in the most healthiest way. My only concern is that people are finding the the most healthiest way to do so because I didn’t take the most healthiest route.