Are You Ready for Naked Gardening Day?

 

Oh dear!

If you are easily offended, look the other way now, and lock up your daughters… Yes it’s THAT day again: 2 May is nearly here and this year it’s the 15th annual World Naked Gardening Day.

Of course, if you easily connect with your inner earth child, if you love to feel the good earth not only beneath your feet or trickling through your fingers, and… well… everywhere, then you may well be considering throwing away the gloves and hats, the trousers and skirts, and getting out there with the trowel and mower and giving the neighbours a treat… relishing the thought of releasing the sun worshipper within you and frolicking as you probably once did as a tot, carefree and sun-kissed.

Ah, but there’s the problem, isn’t it? Thorns and bitey stingy creatures aside, is it really going to be warm enough to cast your pants to the wind and leap outdoors sans thermals, in May, in Pembrokeshire?

I am sure even the most liberal-minded will be considering the changeability of the weather, even as summer approaches. “Ne’er cast a clout til May be out” is a damned good saying to consider in these parts. What with the rain and wild winds – and although we have had days recently when it’s warm enough to leave off the fleece for a couple of hours – the thermals are staying next to the skin where they belong.

Resting after an exhausting stint in the garden?

It all started as a way to encourage people into a healthy acceptance of our bodies and our relationship with Nature; but one can’t help thinking that Mike Storey and Jacob Gabriel who came up with the idea were not familiar with Pembrokeshire weather when they selected the date back in 2005.

Seriously though, whether we are happy with nakedness or not, most of us could enjoy a  better relationship with our bodies. Never having what most people would consider to be a classically beautiful body, and working as I used to for many years with disabled people, I can only argue for accepting who we are and what we look like in this moment.

According to one national newspaper, 90% of teens are unhappy with their own bodies. Eating disorders are growing among men and women. Bullying around appearance is a serious issue not just at school but in the workplace and even at home, leading many people of all ages into self-harm and suicide.

A very slender friend said to me the other day that if you are very thin or fat, people seem to think they have the right to comment, and offer their advice or opinion, often in an aggressive way. We wondered why.

I don’t have an answer of course but I do think that if we stopped comparing ourselves with images of airbrushed models and actresses we might feel more at ease.

I am not and never have been a thin woman. Personally, I am not really that bothered by anyone else’s opinion on that, but I do wish people would consider the feelings of those who might just be too afraid to venture out because of what someone might think about their shape.

Large woman statue at Lake Constance

I am reminded of getting changed at the swimming baths some years ago – always a good leveller. My eye was drawn to the woman next to me towelling herself dry. Clearly she had been a much larger lady at another time in her life, because her body was a mass of loose skin. To my shame, my eyes obviously lingered a little too long because she turned and looked at me and did something that has stayed with me as a gesture of great courage and friendly defiance. She shrugged. That’s it… she shrugged as if to say, what can you do, and we both smiled and moved on.

I would like to add that we became best buddies , but I was so embarrassed at having been caught gawking that the return smile of sisterhood was all I could manage out of my flushing face.

So… naked gardening or no? That has to be your decision, but could I suggest whether you step outside your door on 2 May clothed or unclothed, you spend at least a few moments being grateful for the body that you have with all its undoubtedly numerous foibles.

Oh and if you should catch a glimpse of your neighbour’s bottom wobbling among the borders, just hope she has a long hot bath to look forward to when she is done.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty Parsons

Kitty is an incomer, with five summers under her belt and the knowledge that even the wettest and greyest of winters have not diminished her love of Pembrokeshire. She knows she will never live long enough to be considered a local but hopes to leave some small mark through writing about this beautiful county and its people.

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