Why do I need adaptive underwear? It is a question disabled people need no explanation as to why it is an essential item in our lives. Unfortunately, the adaptive industry has only come about within the last few years, which is crazy to think when we look at how long disability has been around and how many of us require it.
I was debating whether to write this as a generic blog as to why adaptive underwear will change your life, but I have decided to write it from a different perspective as to why it has changed mine. I'm Gemma, I've recently joined the team at Liberare as Visual Brand Director, and I was born with a missing left forearm.
Here are my 4 reasons why adaptive underwear has changed my life.
I have always loved the idea of the adaptive industry, and when the opportunity arose, I had to jump at the chance to work for a company I feel so passionately about. When explaining to my boyfriend how amazing the products were at Liberare and how they could completely change someone's life, even mine, he asked me the question – "Would you use it though, you don't need it?"
I have grown up being able to figure out how to do things with one hand, there wasn't any choice in the matter. There was only the option of finding a way to do it yourself or getting someone to do it for you. I remember when I was younger, spending hours trying and trying again to figure out how to do things such as tie my shoelaces, put on a bra, put on a pair of socks. The simplest of jobs for an able-bodied person would take seconds; for me, it took years to master. Like all disabled people, I have adapted myself to fit into this industry when the industry should have adapted to fit me.
So to answer my boyfriend's question, I wish adaptive bras and underwear had been around when I was growing up. Like many other things), it would have saved me years of time. My posture wouldn't be so poor, nor would my shoulder have hyperextension from years of stretching to reach for something. Most importantly, I wouldn't need to constantly prove to myself that I could do something.
Now I have an adaptive bra; the ease of putting it on and taking it off without causing an injury to myself is a relief yet disappointment that 13-year-old me had to struggle to do something so simple for so long. I am so grateful that Liberare is a company that can make beautiful underwear that can empower women and make them feel worthy at any age. I can only hope that there is a young girl with a missing left arm, just like me, looking at Liberare, thinking… “this will change my life.” A hope that I aspire to achieve personally and from a business perspective.
3. It's for everyone
It is important to note that I am not the only person in my family that lives with a disability. My auntie, who I love to pieces, was born with cerebral palsy and has lived 59 years of her life in a wheelchair, with my nana being her full-time carer, and has been her whole life. The mother-daughter duo has spent the last 59 years managing to get dressed in non-adaptive clothing that takes so long and is hard for both of them.
There's still a long way to go in the adaptive industry, but simple items such as an adaptive bra and underwear mean that getting dressed in the mornings can be done with ease. The side-opening underwear means my nana doesn't need to lift my auntie out of her wheelchair which causes pain and discomfort for both of them.
The best part about it is that Liberare underwear is made for me, my auntie, and also my nana, who has developed arthritis in her fingers and can no longer use the standard hook and eye on everyday bras on herself too. Everyone at every generation can benefit from beautifully made truly functional adaptive bras and underwear. Whether you have one arm like me and are in your 20s wanting fun and flirty intimates, or are like my aunt with cerebral palsy or like my nana who is developing arthritis, adaptive intimates are truly for everyone.
Underwear has two uses: to be supportive and to be sexy. Unfortunately, a stigma and stereotype has been built around the word adaptive. You assume that because something is adaptive for disabilities, it only has one function, which is to support; you don't assume that it can be sexy. This is down to the stereotype that has been built around it for years.
Before Liberare, you would only be able to find bras and panties built for that purpose, frumpy, nude colors, and not very attractive at all. Having an industry built around the needs of disabilities that breaks the stigma and is beautiful is completely empowering.
I hope I can speak for many in the sense that life has always had its ups and downs, but feeling excluded and apart from society was the hardest part of growing up for me. For many, an adaptive underwear brand may not seem like a big deal, but for others including myself, it's finally feeling included by having a brand made for my needs. On top of that, I feel sexy in it too.