Unless your Facebook feed saw a slight decrease in presidential speculation and propaganda you wouldn’t have noticed this event happening. A global participation with no centralized location and barely a hashtag World Naked Gardening Day takes place Saturday, May 7th as it has every year for the past 10 years. The celebration was established by a group of nudists 2005. A gentleman by the name of Mark Storey created the idea in conjunction with The Naturist Society who is an organization committed to proliferating body positivity in its natural state.
Beyond the pure enjoyment of this event that seems somehow random, yet perfectly appropriate we find that there is deeper relevance to notion and that might earn our acceptance and participation in days to come. One we must acknowledge the obvious link between nature and being in the nude. This is how we lived in tropical climates for the better part of 5,000 years and many indigenous culture continue to do so today.
Interestingly many of these cultures have much greater relationships with the land they inhabit than those in the modernized, cloth-wearing world. It seems as though we are not simply protecting ourselves from the elements, because that is not entirely necessary year round but we are also performing some ritual of civilization. A de-animalizing of man occurs when we are the only species on the planet that wears adornments full time. Thus the smells, sights, and feeling of our bodies is foreign to us in our daily lives. This informs the kinds of structures we design, and the kinds of experiences we participate in.
Additionally normalizing nudity comes with other sexual side effects as well. As we see in many non-puritan based cultures. Nudity isn’t all that big of a deal, and yet we carry a great deal of shame in our bodies not only for their shapes, but their functions, and seek to hide them from each other. This has great effects on the objectification of female bodies. Much of the time we only are allowed to see them in the context of sexualization, in advertisements, in athletics and on the beach. Inherently the function of the female body is implied to be that of a sexual nature, when that is not the case. By participating in non-sexual acts across genders in the nude, we desexualize the body, and relegate the sexual perspective to a more conditional place. It also allows us to see a broader range of bodies in general, dispelling the myth that there is a “normal” shape.
We also find that our bodies are hidden from ourselves. In 2011 we conducted a study with 20 adults and asked them personal questions about their relationship to their bodies. What we found is that only 8 of them own full length mirrors. This means that 60% of our sample group does not see their full body naked on a regular basis. We are not only creating divisions between ourselves and nature and each other, but also from ourselves.
The level of comfort we have with our own bodies speaks to how familiar we are with its fluctuations. We tend to engage with our physique in special periods that have either been medicalized, sexualized, or shielded by euphemism. This past weekend we were granted the opportunity to publicly undo some of this secrecy in a fun silly way. The beauty of World Naked Gardening day is that it is decentralized, free, and the activity is not bound by a calendar at all. So while you may have missed the ceremony, you don’t have to miss out on the fun.