Photos by Anna Powell Denton.
“I started posting photos on Instagram because I didn’t have any close friends who lived nearby,” says Shoko Tatara, a Tokyo native and mother of five, who now lives in Indiana. “But I never thought anything would happen — I didn’t even think I was fashionable.” Here, Shoko shares five looks and talks about clowncore, online friendships, and being a stay-at-home mom…
“I’m very insecure about my body, especially my belly, but I’m trying to get more confident. I’m still nervous when taking photos, but seeing what my body looks like on a daily basis has helped me feel more comfortable. Years ago, on Cup of Jo, I read the advice that when you look in the mirror, you should view yourself as a friend. That helped me a lot.”
“I moved to Indiana from Japan with three babies and spent a lot of time at home with no one to talk to. The language barrier was a struggle; it took me decades before I felt truly comfortable talking to people in English. Through Instagram, I’ve made a few friends online whom I can talk to about anything. Everyone in the slow fashion community is really kind.”
“My father passed away three years ago, and when he was hospitalized, I couldn’t afford an air ticket to Japan. So, I decided to sell my clothes on Instagram to raise funds. Many people bought my things, and other people donated money and their own clothes for me to sell. I was able to visit my father, just a month before he died. I’ll be grateful forever; it was an unbelievable thing.”
“I love clowncore, which is crazy patterns and colors. I used to try to copy Erica Allen-Kim’s style; I think she is so cool. But after time, I realized that the clothes that work for her didn’t feel great on me because we have different body types. That experience was a good exercise and helped me figure out what I liked for myself.”
“I joined the slow fashion community pretty organically, since I’ve always worn mostly secondhand clothes. I shop eBay, Poshmark and Noihsaf Bazaar. People tell me that I’m good at layering, but that’s just a functional styling habit that Japanese people do because of the seasonal changes. When you go to Harajuku, you see all kinds of styles, like leather jackets with spiky shoulders and balloon-style dresses layered under sweaters. People just wear what they like, and I love that mindset.”
“I’m a stay-at-home mom — at one point, I had four kids under seven, and it was wild. My days were filled with picking up children, doing yard work, and grocery shopping — they were hectic and the time flew. But I made it, and now only have one child left at home. I do feel like stay-at-home moms aren’t always well understood. Some people ask, ‘What do you do all day?’ What I do is work.”
“My oldest son was in high school show choir, and his school hosted a huge annual competition, where kids from around the state came to complete. There, he noticed some other parents talking down to their kids. When he came home, he said, ‘Mama, thank you for being kind all the time.’ He saw the way we treat each other at home and was thankful for it. As my kids grow up, they start to understand where I was coming from when raising them. They also tell me how they appreciate me as a mother, and that’s the most rewarding thing.”
Thank you so much, Shoko! You can follow her on Instagram, if you’d like.
(Photos by Anna Powell Denton for Cup of Jo.)
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