KOBLENZ, 24 August 2022 | Released today, Canyon’s new film ‘This Rider: Jenny Tough & Emily Chappell’ uncovers an otherwise unseen part of Emily and Jenny’s careers. Conscious that they are not alone in their struggles with body image, they openly discuss their relationship with their bodies with the goal of encouraging others to be kinder to themselves.
The film follows Emily and Jenny on their trip through Slovenia. It’s a story of friendship and the importance of having someone to open up to. They both recount the achievements of the other, in awe of each other’s accomplishments. But despite what they have achieved, among this being Emily’s Transcontinental victory in 2016, and Jenny winning the Silk Road Mountain race in 2018 and 2021, they talk about something that has plagued them through it all – the way they feel about their bodies. From eating disorders to never feeling good enough, a large portion of their lives has been overshadowed by these feelings.
Talking about her motivation to work on this project, Jenny said: “We realised that the thoughts plaguing our own minds were not actually unique to us - that there is a widespread problem here that should theoretically be easy to fix. We wanted to start being part of that fix.”
After years of battling with their feelings, outside influences, and societal pressures, their trip to Slovenia went beyond travelling somewhere new to ride with a friend. It was a chance for Emily and Jenny to talk about something they both experience in the hope it may help others.
“We hope that the film will start a thousand conversations and give people the space and opportunity to bring their own body issues into the light. It's often only when you finally look the problem in the face that you start to recognise it for what it is, and for both of us, it was hearing the other person talking about her poor body image and thinking "but you have nothing to worry about," that ended up being a lightbulb moment,” said Emily.
Talking about the film, Canyon’s Road Brand & Marketing Manager, Matthew Leake said: “Jenny and Emily are both renowned for their incredible physical feats, the kinds of rides and adventures that genuinely inspire. What sets them apart even further are their skills in communicating, not just about their accomplishments, but around issues that really matter. With this project we wanted to provide a platform to an important conversation they have been having on body image and perception, a topic that many people can relate to.
“Channeling this through Jenny and Emily’s first-hand experiences, their friendship and the infectious energy they bring will, we hope, be a source of inspiration, and help move the conversation around body image within cycling and beyond forward in a constructive and positive manner.”
i. What were your motivations behind making the film? I know in it you say you planned to go on a nice trip for such a long time, did it start as just a plan for a big ride and evolve from there?
EC: Jenny and I talk a lot, and are always hatching plans. This film combined two of them - we have helped each other make huge strides with our body image struggles, and wanted to find ways of sharing our thoughts with a wider audience, and contribute to the ongoing discussion initiated by Kailey Kornhauser and Marley Blonsky in All Bodies On Bikes. And we also wanted to go on a proper bike ride together - as two people who habitually ride solo, but always have a lot to talk to each other about. We have a list of places we both want to ride, and Slovenia was right at the top.
JT: Exactly what Emily said. We realised that the thoughts plaguing our own minds were not actually unique to us - that there is a widespread problem here that should theoretically be easy to fix. We wanted to start being part of that fix.
EC: We hope that the film will start a thousand conversations, and give people the space and opportunity to bring their own body issues out into the light. It's often only when you finally look the problem in the face that you start to recognise it for what it is, and for both of us, it was hearing the other person talking about her poor body image, and thinking "but you have nothing to worry about" that ended up being a lightbulb moment.
JT: We hope people will start to challenge the toxic language and values we have around our bodies. By being more gentle with ourselves we can be more gentle with each other, and vice versa.
iii. What would you say contributed to you feeling the way you both did about yourselves? Is there anything you wish would change that would make a difference?
EC: I believed for most of my life that I was "one of the fat ones", and although there are countless reasons for this, I mostly trace it back to the way women talked about their bodies - and mine, and other people's - when I was growing up. I was told I was fat often enough that I took it to be true, but I also can't think of a single woman I knew when I was a child who didn't hate her body and wish it was smaller. Then on top of that there was the endless commentary, from family, peers, society, and the media, on who was bigger, who was smaller, who had lost weight (and how good that was), who had put it on (and how bad that was), and who should not be wearing that miniskirt. There were absolutely no role models for a healthy and neutral relationship with one's physical form.
JT: Very similar to Emily. I was told before I was too young to understand how to challenge it, that I needed to worry about what I ate because it would alter the way I looked and that was the most important thing. I was told I was fat, and all the women in my family told themselves and each other that they were fat. And fat was bad. I never knew anyone who expressed self-love or kindness. Things I wish I would change? Eating disorders are becoming prevalent in younger and younger children now, and I wish I could change the toxic culture around health/eating/weight so we could start to live in a society that has a healthy approach to eating.
EC: We have happy memories of the trip, and a large number of giggling selfies with mountain backdrops. I feel very pleased with how the shoot went, and happy with how the film has turned out, but I think we're both slightly anxious that despite our best efforts, our message will somehow come across wrong, or be misinterpreted. We've done our very best to frame the discussion in a way that is honest, healthy, and inclusive, and we're ready to keep on learning if there's anything we've not managed to consider thus far.
JT: As EC says - it was such a great trip, and working on an all-female crew was a dream come true for us. But we are certainly nervous about putting ourselves out there more than we have before. I'm excited to further the conversation, but of course it is diving into some of the hardest emotions we face and sharing them far and wide.