Cat Polivoda Celebrates Fat Liberation at Plus-Size Resale Store and Fat Splash Pool Parties

By Lindsey Rose

Cat Polivoda has always lived in a larger body. She spent a decade of her late teens into her mid-20s unlearning messages she’d received from many people about who she should be and what she should look like. She is now a public voice for intersectional fat liberation, which in her words is “a movement less concerned about personal relationship with your body positivity and more about recognizing and addressing inequities in our culture based on body size.”

For Cat, the path to fat liberation, and feeling comfortable and confident in her own body, was through fashion. Her entrepreneurial “aha!” moment came in 2014, before Poshmark was well-known and selling on Instagram was popular. She sold clothing items by putting a couple quick pics on her personal Facebook. She instantly made a few hundred dollars and was inspired to create a dedicated website and Facebook page. She went on to host pop-ups in markets and local shops in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, including b. Resale, whose owner, Allison Bross-White, is one of her strongest mentors and ongoing supporters.

In 2017, Cat launched Cake Plus-Size Resale, a Minneapolis-based brick-and-mortar store that aims to provide a fat-positive shopping experience for plus-size people of all genders. She quickly became a fashion resale expert, recognizing the need for more understanding of how plus sizing works and creating more of a selection. People in larger bodies are an afterthought in a lot of spaces, especially in thrifting, so Cat commits to making them a priority and changing the narrative. She leverages her familiarity with sizing inconsistencies—which is more pronounced in plus sizes 16 through 30—to help her customers.

Cake Plus-Size Resale’s fitting rooms are extra-large and outfitted with fans, ensuring comfortable space for shoppers. Signs in each fitting room remind people to keep their negative body comments to themselves to promote positivity and pride. Store staff make themselves available to shoppers as needed, and if shoppers want more one-on-one time, they can sign up for paid style sessions, where Cat’s team pulls a rack of items ahead of time for shoppers to try on in the store.

The business also offers online shopping, with exclusive items customers can select for pick-up or have shipped anywhere in the U.S. for $10.

A year after launching her business, Cat piloted Fat Splash, a pool party just for fat folks. She did it again the next year, and tickets sold out in 12 hours. She quickly added a second party that sold out in less than a day. Fat Splash pool parties are a safe place for plus-size people to be at the pool with other plus-size people.

“A lot of people in larger bodies have had negative experiences in the pool, and being with other fat people, you don’t look at each other differently, and there’s something really special about this,” Cat says.

This summer, with support from sponsors Solcana Fitness, Katrina DeWit of Engel & Völkers, FITSO and Publish Her, Cake Plus-Size Resale is hosting two Fat Splash events at the Minnesota JCC Sabes Center in Minneapolis. On Jul. 6 and Jul. 20, Fat Splash will provide private access to large indoor and outdoor pool spaces with lifts and lifeguards, a water slide, optional cannon ball contest, tarot card readings, and music from DJ Luma Notti (Jul. 6) and DJ Darling Nicque (Jul. 20). Other partners and vendors include LINC Permanent Jewelry, Nina Perkins, Cassandra Snow Tarot and Witch Way Tarot, as well as Subversive Sirens, which will lead a splash mob.

As she leans into the excitement of Cake Plus-Size Resale’s seven-year anniversary in fall 2024, Cat acknowledges it hasn’t always been easy, and that the pandemic took a toll on her and her business. There were times she wasn’t sure the business would survive. To stay afloat, she took a full-time job outside of the shop, which allowed her to empower her team and managers Mawrgyn Roper and Paxyshia Yang to take the lead. While she continues to experience grief and sadness about the pandemic, she is working to find beauty in a pivot and reframe an alternate path to slowing down. She remains rooted in her values, moving forward and trusting that she can’t control most things.

In addition to growing Cake Plus-Size Resale, Cat works as a consultant on purpose-driven projects that bring her joy, including Reuse Minnesota, a nonprofit that contracted her to create business development trainings for resale businesses. She created a free, downloadable workbook for the organization that helps people launch and grow a resale business in Minnesota. She loves creating trainings and sharing information she wishes existed when she started her venture.

She also continues to do one-on-one style consulting. One of her favorite things is being in a client’s closet with them, knowing that they benefit from her fashion expertise and her positivity as a plus-size person.

Cat earned a bachelor’s degree in German and global studies from Hamline University, and a master’s degree in training and development from Texas A&M University. She also has a certificate in organization development from the University of Minnesota and a certificate in business strategy from Cornell University. In 2020, she received the First Decade Award from the Hamline University Alumni Association.

To learn more about Cat’s business, visit www.cakeplussize.com and follow @cakeplussize on Instagram.

For Fat Splash information and tickets, visit www.cakeplussize.com/fatsplash.

Photo credit: Cat Polivoda and Nina Perkins

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lindsey Rose is a mom, writer and longtime public relations professional. After recovering from colon cancer in 2012, she launched a communications consultancy that supports purpose-driven brands. She is a passionate autism awareness advocate, dog lover, yogi and cookie baking aficionado. Follow her on Instagram: @lindseyrosepr.

About Publish Her

Publish Her is a female-founded independent publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all.