Meet Kailey and Marley of 'All Bodies on Bikes,' an Antidote for Toxic Body Positivity

Shimano's long-form piece strikes the right tone

"All Bodies on Bikes," a content piece from cycling company Shimano, created in partnership with Sweetgrass Productions and Field Work Creative, introduces us to Kailey Kornhauser and Marley Blonsky, who are hoping to change the shapes we think cyclists can have.

The 13-minute film, directed by Zeppelin Zeerip, opens with an adventurous energy. Kornhauser appears, biking downhill through a nifty forest trail, her face set in an expression of mitigated calculation. 

Then, with a high-pitched shout, she falls sideways into the dirt.

We actually laughed out loud, taken as much by surprise as by the comedy of the moment. This is part of what makes the story relatable. We remember the freedom felt on forest trails as kids, and the sudden, goofy falls. 

"Whoa! That's my first time really falling," Kornhauser muses. "I feel like a real mountain biker."

This is how we meet her. Later we're introduced to Marley Blonsky, and before we know it, we're all biking down the C2C Trail, which goes from downtown Corvallis, Oregon, to the Pacific Ocean.

This journey provides a physical backdrop for a larger, personal one. Blonsky and Kornhauser talk about their bodies, dealing with judgment from other people, and what it's like to be the cyclists who lag behind. 

"People associate negative feelings with the word 'fat,' " Kronhauser explains. "People think that fat means lazy, or ugly, or undesirable. But really, fat is just a descriptor of our bodies, and so I try to use that word just to describe myself, and take the word back ... but leave those negative associations behind."

This is a nuanced distinction. When people talk to you about being fat, they're not actually talking about health or well-being. They're really just talking about the shape and desirability of your body, teaching you where you do and do not belong, as well as what you do and don't deserve. This changes what you feel is possible for you, and corrupts your relationship to yourself; when Kronhauser began cycling, it was another way to try to get smaller—a mindset she had to unlearn.

Listening to these stories, while watching Kornhauser and Blonsky make this trek, is effective, endearing and envy-inducing. The words are important. But you also see them laugh, push their bodies further, get muddy, cycle through wet sand on the beach, and leap exuberantly into waves.

"As humans, we're meant to move; we're not meant to be sedentary," Blonsky says. "It doesn't matter what size you are."

We are reminded of something Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Big Magic, while listing common reasons people avoid creative expression: "You're afraid you're too fat. (I don't know what this has to do with creativity, exactly, but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we're too fat, so let's just put that on the anxiety list, for good measure.)" 

It feels good to see cyclists, real cyclists, who don't look like they fell out of a Lance Armstrong mold. It feels good to see how cycling can be fun, playful and challenging in ways that are personal, not purely competitive. All of this opened a little door in our brains that we didn't know was slowly swinging closed. And we were reminded, yet again, that not everything we do has to be married to a productivity metric. Sometimes you can do things for the unbridled joy, the kind you felt as a kid, dirt-biking down hills for fun, not calorie counts. After months of ignoring our bikes, we felt the itch to cycle again.

"All Bikes on Bodies" was filmed in summer 2020, with Covid-19 safety precautions in place.

CREDITS

Director: Zeppelin Zeerip
Producer: Zac Ramras
Director of Photography: Michael Brown
Editor: Michael Brown
Sound Design: Avery Sandack
Animation: Studio Dialog
Starring: Kailey Korhauser 
Marley Blonsky
Music: Easy Giant
Rigger: Kyle Metzger

Native Lands: Duwamish, Coast Salish, Kalapuya, Chemapho, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Alsea, Tillamook, Siletz, and Yakina.

Additional Thanks: Corvallis Bicycle Collective, Black Rock Mountain Bike Association, Velo Orange, Free Range Bike Shop

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Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is a founding contributor to Muse. She is also the co-founder of esports agency Hurrah.gg, and co-author of Generation Creation.

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