MINNEAPOLIS - Cat Polivoda recently offered tickets to "curvy/fat/plus-size/husky" folks and their friends for a pool party later this summer in St. Louis Park. The second annual "Fat Splash"sold out overnight, so she hustled to add a second date. That one promptly sold out, too.
"I really just care about people feeling comfortable and confident in their bodies," said Polivoda, the owner of Cake Plus-Size Resale in Minneapolis. "The pool can be such a vulnerable place for lots of people."
The pool parties are just one way larger-bodied people in the Twin Cities are coming together as a community. Podcasts (like "Matter of Fat," which Polivoda co-hosts), plus-sized Instagram influencers modeling affordable fashions and body-positive burlesque classes and yoga studios are all promoting beauty and health at any size.
The body positivity movement, which encourages self-acceptance and pushes back at the idea of an ideal (read thin) body, has been building for years. Nationally, it's been fueled by TV shows like Hulu's"Shrill", which featured a pool party much like Polivoda's; by artists like Lizzo, who appeared naked and confident on the cover of her "Cuz I Love You" album, which debuted in Billboard's Top 10; and by Instagram hashtags like #effyourbeautystandards and #bodypositive.
But in the metro area, the movement has found passionate champions who are shaping it in a powerful way.
"I think things are growing at a more rapid rate here than other places," said Polivoda. "I have the opportunity to talk to people from out of town who are like, 'Wow, you have all this stuff here!'"
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"This stuff" includes frank and provocative podcasts like "Matter of Fat" and "MollyMay+," where St. Paul host Molly May McMahan gets personal about her own body-positivity journey. Local Instagram influencers like Paxyshia Yang are sharing plus-size fashions in the hope of changing perceptions one selfie at a time. There also are clothing swaps for sizes 2XL and up and a new yoga studio encouraging fat acceptance.
The nonprofit Radical Health Alliance is even debuting a very different kind of "fat camp" north of the Twin Cities this year. The Rad Fat Adventure Camp weekend retreat will include kayaking, hiking, camp crafts (hello, friendship bracelets) and a "splash mob" swim session by the Subversive Sirens, a local group of body-positive synchronized swimmers. (There's already a waitlist for the September event.)
A closed Facebook group, Twin Cities Fat Community, offers online support and shares information about local happenings. Started by Polivoda and Radical Health Alliance founder Ani Janzen, it's grown from 30 members in 2016 to more than 550 members.
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