Just Being One of the Girls By Oliver Portmann

oliver-p-and-liliI remember sitting at home in the kitchen with my younger sister Blake, and our nanny Sylvia.  I was 6 years old and we were waiting for my parents to come home with our new baby sister. We had already met Lili at the hospital earlier that week.  To us, Lili was a wonderful and perfect baby. Everyone around us was so happy too, but Blake and I were especially thrilled to have another sibling joining our family. Being quite young at the time, it was sort of hard to understand what started to happen, but Lili started to have serious health issues. I was not sure what it was at the time, but soon she was being fed through a G-tube. I was very shocked and confused as to what could possibly be happening.  As months went on, Blake and I learned from our parents that Lili’s leg muscles would not work the same as ours. In other words, Lili would not be able to walk independently. As years passed, Blake and I would help out our parents the best way we knew how—we would carry our sister, push her in a stroller, and basically help Lili get around the house and other places. When Lili was young, it was much easier to get her dressed in the morning, because she was still young and small.  However, as she became older, the task of helping Lili get ready for school in the morning became significantly more troublesome; almost exhausting. Getting her dressed was the hardest part, it became increasingly harder to shimmy Lili into tight leggings or jeans due to the paralyzed shape of her legs.  We were committed to helping no matter what though, and so Lili would have to be woken up extra early each morning to make up for the extra time needed for her to get ready to go to school.  The clothing that Lili was wearing each day was clearly not made with her in mind.

Admittedly, I assumed that Lili’s challenges with clothing were life-long.  That is why when my mother and Lili first told me about the Runway of Dreams’ adaptive clothing line with Tommy Hilfiger, I was ecstatic for my sister.  This was much more than her just finding an outfit she might like.   I thought it was amazing! Finally, clothing that is adaptive but yet still relevant and fashionable.  The adaptive designs that are worked into the clothes are flawless. The magnets allow for Lili to easily put on a pair of jeans or a cute t-shirt without a huge struggle. Putting on a pair of jeans would take several minutes, especially if Lili was wearing her leg braces. Now it is only a matter of seconds to put on those jeans. The new adaptive clothing from Tommy Hilfiger really cut down the time it takes for Lili to get ready, and she no longer has to wake up early to make up for lost time. Everything magnetized is hidden, so the jeans Lili wears look just like a normal pair of Tommy Hilfiger Jeans.

In my gut I felt that this was the break my sister deserved.  I hoped it might even become the start of a really big movement, since there are no other fashionable adaptive clothing brands. Instead, the type of adaptive clothing that is available is not fashionable and involuntary labels the wearer as different due to its poor design.

Thankfully, now our wish for Lili has come true. Not only has Runway of Dreams mad her life easier, she can now even look fashionable, before an impossibility! I am truly amazed by the difference these clothes have not only made for my sister but for so many others already.  Now thanks to Tommy Hilfiger and Runway of Dreams, my heart no longer aches for my sister and the fashion-related challenges she has had to endure her entire lifetime.  Now my heart is full. Lili can wear fashionable adaptive clothing and finally what we’ve always wanted for her has happened: she is just “one of the girls.”

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