Written by Susan Hanks


Calendar girl

Susan Hanks just got her kit (sort of) off for charity. Getting undressed was the easy part. Psyching herself up took more courage.

'Miss December' shows off her M&S haul and some body confidence. Photo by Paula Gordejczuk.

‘Miss December’ shows off her M&S haul and some body confidence. Photo by Paula Gordejczuk.

Would you get your kit off for a six figure sum? I wouldn’t*. But I have just been scantily clad for a calendar shoot without the cash bonus because the benefits far outweigh any bank balance.
*For the record, no one has made the offer.

The calendar – Made in Leek – supports the Douglas Macmillan Hospice and was initiated by a woman who lost her father to cancer. She wanted to give something back to the charity that had helped her and her family.

Cue 12 ladies with local vested interest in Leek, big hearts and little twinkles in their eyes daring to bare bits of their bodies in an effort to raise more than just an eyebrow.

When I saw the post on Facebook asking for models, my initial thought was, “What a fabulous thing for someone to do.” Then, I toyed with the idea that the someone could be me.

I present a programme on a local radio station and I could give this a real push in terms of promotion and help to sell as many copies as possible. I’m well connected and have lots of friends who would help to raise awareness of it. I write for this women’s magazine, which encourages all women to celebrate what they are already.

Time to put into practice what I preach. Right? Right.

Except it isn’t as simple as that. I’ve battled with my body for as long as I can remember. I’ve been a yo-yo dieter (I thought yo-yos were supposed to be fun). For example, making something called ‘scan bran cake’ was by far more pleasurable than eating the damn thing, which is supposed to speed up the metabolism. (I concluded that this was due to the extreme effort your jaw has to put in to chew the terribly textured baked brick.)

I became a ‘runner’ and hated it. I trained for a 10k. I had a heavy cold on race day and ran holding a handbag full of tissues and forgot my iPod. I could say that I ran in silence, but I actually ran to the sound of my own base breathing and clacking coughs.

After crossing the finishing line, feeling very cross, I returned to my car. My anticipation of a sit down was spoiled on discovering a parking ticket. I felt anything but a winner that day and gave away my medal to a child who wanted one. If you’re in any doubt, just to clarify: I do not enjoy running.

I’ve weighed, measured and miserably denied myself the things I enjoy eating and drinking for weeks at a time, only to then splurge on everything I’ve missed out on in one sitting. I’ve weighed, measured and miserably deni… *repeat to fade*

Time to change the record.

The only thing left to do with my body now is to accept it and be joyous that it still functions properly, in spite of the torture I have inflicted on myself.

“By this point, it was too late to shy away. I posed, smiled and left the photoshoot feeling hopeful that I’ve done something positive in many ways.”

I’ve spent the last 18 months enjoying a little bit of what I fancy every now and again (except for Daniel Craig, who never seems to be available). I’m exercising at a class that I enjoy and which focuses on healthy attitudes towards our bodies. And I’m in training every time I look in the mirror to notice something that I like. I think I’m ready to – hopefully – inspire others to do the same.

I headed to Marks & Spencer to try on everything they have in the underwear section that is as far removed from reshaping me as possible. I wanted to just be the shape I’m supposed to be now. The cashier who helped me locate certain items was amused when I told her I couldn’t wait for her to order things as I needed them that night. As I paid, she told me to have a good night, only just skipping a knowing wink, and I realised she assumed that Bond had responded to my SOS.

By this point, it was too late to shy away. I posed, smiled and left the photoshoot feeling hopeful that I’d done something positive in many ways. Hopefully people won’t see the years of Ryvita, joyless jogging and low-fat yoghurt. Hopefully it will inspire someone to step out of their comfort zone and encourage many to delve deep to support a deserving charity.

I’m Miss December 2017. I can’t predict what size or shape I’ll be by then, but I can confirm that in the meantime I’ll only run if it’s to catch the bus, I’ll enjoy every mouthful of Merlot I consume and I’ll keep wishing for DC. And given I’ve got his calendar, it’s only fair I send him a copy of mine.

Fancy a calendar? Tweet @susan_hanks for info.
All proceeds to www.dmhospice.org.uk


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Written by Susan Hanks

Presenter on Moorlands Radio 103.7FM Drive Time, weekdays 4-7pm. Join Susan in 'shaking what ya mamma gave ya' for the daily Derriere Dance. Rhythm/leotard not essential.