While public nudity is generally discouraged in our society, and mostly illegal, those who wish to bare it all can find opportunities on designated beaches and in nudist communities scattered around the country. The prudish may prefer that these encampments remain out of sight, but N.I.M.B.Y. might as well stand for “nude in my backyard” to those who celebrate World Naked Gardening Day in early May.
Yes, naked gardening is a thing, and our readers should not be that surprised. A story about nudist cooking recently appeared in our Dining section, delving into the history and practices of naturism. If you cook in the nude, tending to your vegetables that way is the logical prelude.
For the nudist gardener seeking friendly environs, a recent study by Lawnstarter.com may be revealing. The website, which connects users with lawn-care services, ranked the largest 100 U.S. cities, from best to worst, for naked gardening.
The study used a number of metrics, including: the percentage of nudists and the friendliness of laws governing public nudity and toplessness in each city; local Google searches for “nudist” and “World Naked Gardening Day”; safety concerns, addressed by measuring the number of registered sex offenders amid the population; weather-related factors such as temperature, rain and wind speed; and a previous Lawnstarter study ranking the best cities for urban gardening. The resulting top and bottom 10 cities are uncovered in this week’s chart.
If this makes you cringe, stop to consider why. Attitudes toward public nudity are shifting, and not for the first time: Long gone are the days when nude swimming classes were routine, while the “free the nipple” movement has raised awareness of gender discrimination around toplessness. (It’s legal in New York City for everyone.)
Let’s face it, many of us could stand to feel more comfortable with our bodies, and few would dispute the damage incurred by the pressure to meet our culture’s unrealistic beauty ideals. So grab your sunscreen, check your local ordinances and maybe keep the hedges high. A bit of naked gardening just might yield a healthy crop of self-acceptance, not to mention the carrots, tomatoes and kale.
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