Emily Chappell and Jenny Tough are two people with a long list of athletic achievements to their names. The two women are no strangers to adventure, having carved careers out of pushing their bodies to the limit.
Emily’s Transcontinental Race victory in 2016 saw her achieve legend status within the ultra-cycling community, while Jenny’s 2018 and 2021 Silk Road Mountain Race wins made other women consider what they’re capable of. Despite this, their body image has suffered over the years to the point of eating disorders and feelings of inadequacy.
Jenny and Emily hatched a plan to share their thoughts about this prevalent issue. “We 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 had a list of places we both wanted to ride and Slovenia was right at the top,” says Emily.
As part of the This RIDER series of films, this episode allows the pair to openly discuss their relationship with their bodies. “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,” says Jenny of her motivation to help change the way people talk about their bodies.
But how do two strong athletes come to feel so conflicted with their bodies? “I believed for most of my life that I was ‘one of the fat ones’, and I mostly trace it back to the way women talked about their bodies when I was growing up,” admits Emily. Throughout the film Emily discusses her relationship with her body and the belief that it was never good enough. “I can’t think of a single woman I knew when I was a child who didn’t hate her body and wish it were smaller. There were absolutely no role models for a healthy and neutral relationship with one’s physical form.”
Jenny echoes the same sentiment. “I was told 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 – very bad.” The complete lack of self-love and kindness of those around her has had a lasting impact on Jenny throughout her life.
It’s through this film, the two women hope to force change in the way society talks about bodies. “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,” says Emily.
Alongside Jenny and Emily was an all-female film crew dedicated to supporting Jenny and Emily in spreading this important message:
- Sam Andre – director, filmer
- Samantha Saskia Dugon – filmer, photographer
- Florencia Ojeda – Producer
- Uršula Kordiš – Fixer