Weird Seance summons… Style Me Sunday
In the continuation of her ongoing series of interviews with 'iconic oddballs', Culture Editor Amy Kean chats with Instagram phenomenon Natalie Lee, aka Style Me Sunday. They discuss the beauty of being weird, the power of social media and the value of Lee being "unapologetically me".
Natalie Lee - known as @StyleMeSunday on Instagram - is iconic.
Promising “sexy sweary shame-shedding” to her 103k followers, she’s an OG influencer, emerging in those early days when social communication was an art, long before the formulas, mimics and reality celebrity detox teas crept in.
She primises “sexy sweary shame-shedding” to her 103k followers.
I’ve followed Natalie for a long time, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I adore her completely. Fun fact: her social media power alone is enough to send a book to number one in the Amazon charts, which is exactly what happened after I sent her a copy of The Little Girl Who Gave Zero Fucks.
Above: An image of Natalie Lee, aka @StyleMeSunday, from one of her Instagram posts.
Natalie is beautiful, and notable for her loud lipstick colours and outrageous, eclectic style, but that’s not why I was so desperate to summon Natalie’s weird side. In a world where homogeneity thrives, and playing it safe gets likes, Natalie is different, and encourages all of us to be different, too.
Her ‘Friday Finger’ ritual, in which she flips the bird towards any one of the ridiculous pressures that women face, manages to stun and inspire in equal measure. She’s one of a movement of women celebrating their flaws and sharing their proper power, and it’s contagious. In short: we need more people like Style Me Sunday.
She’s one of a movement of women celebrating their flaws and sharing their proper power, and it’s contagious.
A recent #FridayFinger of hers caught my eye, from a few months ago. In a leopard print top and short set, she kneels, legs wide on a bed, with the following caption:
“She’s so fucking weird”
Yep, weird and wonderful motherfuckers. 🖕🏽#FridayFinger
If you’ve ever been called weird then you’re probably my kinda person. Sending love to all you weirdos out there 😘”
YEAH! Natalie’s post was music to my ears (eyes?) because what the weird movement needs is more women rejecting the outdated, fictional concept of ‘normal’. And let’s be clear: this is a movement. The replies told me so:
“Honestly the people that blow the ‘she’s so weird’ trumpet are often hiding all sorts of shenanigans- be true to who you are or die trying to hide it.”
“Rather be considered weird than unkind or boring 🤷🏼♀️”
“I constantly feel like a weirdo on the periphery of social groups!!”
A-fucking-men. So, I decided to hit Natalie up and interrogate her weirdness, delve deep into her creativity and ask whether it’s ever really possible to be yourself… in all your self’s oddity… in social media.
Above: Natalie revels in being called 'weird'.
AK: Natalie! Hello. Welcome to Weird Seance.
NL: Hello! And thank you.
AK: First of all - could you draw the inside of your mind? Just a sketch, however you want, just draw the inside of your mind.
NL: Here you go. My mind is a bit like my hair: crazy and wild; goes off on tangents all the time. Difficult to contain.
AK: I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Happy and complicated at the same time. I’m a seasoned interviewer, so let me start with a question I already know the answer to! Would you describe yourself as weird?
NL: Yes, but only recently.
AK: Woah! What?!
I have a relationship in my life that is completely honest, painful and illuminating. I have learnt so much about myself from this connection.
NL: We learn so much about ourselves through our interactions with others. If you find someone - or people - you can completely be yourself with, with no pretence or masking, then you have something very special. I have a relationship in my life that is completely honest, painful and illuminating. I have learnt so much about myself from this connection and I have so much more self-awareness now. Psychotherapy is another source of reflective awareness - the insights have been coming thick and fast lately.
AK: I totally get it. I think, as we get older, this is something people start to crave… those relationships where you don’t have to pretend. I know a lot of women in their 30s and 40s who are actually saying goodbye to a lot of friendships, because those friendships make them feel the opposite. And aways people think you have to wait until there’s something ‘wrong’ before you seek therapy when, actually, it can just be a brilliant way to better understand yourself. So, do you have an ‘origin story’ moment where you suddenly thought “fuck it”!
NL: I think just recently, since I’ve started to look inwards and focus on my healing. I’ve had many light bulb moments in the last couple of years.
Above: Lee gives one of her Friday Fingers in a pink-tasseled sequinned jacket.
AK: One of the reasons I think you’re so captivating is your brightness, whether it’s the poppy lipsticks or pink-tasseled sequinned jackets. How would you describe your style, and is that a manifestation of your weirdness?
NL: Eclectic. It changes all the time. But lockdown has focused my attention on comfort. If I can be stylish and comfortable then I will be in that outfit for a minimum of three days in a row.
AK: How else do you think lockdown changed you?
NL: I think, like most people, I’ve really stripped back to basics on what and who are important to me. Our time is precious and I don’t want to waste it being around or doing things that have a negative affect on my energy.
AK: How would you describe your approach to creativity, and how you interact with people - particularly in social media?
NL: I would never have described myself as creative before, because when I think of a creative person I think of an artist or a musician [and] I can’t draw, and singing and playing an instrument is definitely not a talent of mine. But I guess I have been creative in how I have built my career and in what I produce. But still, I’m struggling to identify with the word. Do you think I’m creative? If so, in what way?
I’ve now learned that I have to be very careful with what I put out online because I may get push back that I don’t have the capacity to deal with.
AK: Ah, the interviewer becomes the interviewee! I think it’s a really interesting topic. I see creativity as how you express yourself, how you present yourself, and the feeling you create. I think it’s a huge talent to make people feel a surge of emotions - which you do - when the only space you have to work with is a tiny square in social media. With every single thing you post, you make that space your own and you make people feel things. A lot of things, based on the comments. That’s the epitome of creativity, surely?
NL: Yeah, you’re right I guess. Your reply made me smile, so thank you for that.
AK: You have over 100k followers on Instagram and work a lot with brands and other personalities, do you find (or have you found) that affects how ‘you’ that you can be?
NL: There are times when my energy is low and the overwhelm is real and I’ve now learned that I have to be very careful with what I put out online because I may get push back that I don’t have the capacity to deal with. But, overall, I try to stick to my values of being unapologetically me, and I would never work with a brand that tries to stifle my work overall. Obviously, when I do ads, I can’t swear or be overtly sexual so I will tailor it to their needs. But the rest of my work is mine and I resist the urge to be more marketable because that is just fucking dull, and eventually it would kill my soul and my passion.
Above: Lee states one of her affirmations for the year ahead.
AK: It’s been really interesting watching the evolution of many social media creatives, and seeing which ones have dampened their personality to be more ‘palatable’. I guess I don’t judge, though - everyone has to make a living! But what’s your view on social media these days? Do you think the various platforms encourage originality and individuality?
NL: Yes, I think there's a huge amount of talent and individuality... if you look for it. I get inspired everyday by people who are pushing the boundaries or trying new things. Obviously it’s human nature to do what everyone else is doing, and jump on bandwagons because it unifies people, but ultimately social media has given a platform for people to express themselves and be heard in a way that has never happened before.
Social media has given a platform for people to express themselves and be heard in a way that has never happened before.
AK: Who inspires you in social media, because they ‘dare’ to be themselves?
AK: Do you think it’s harder for women to be weird?
NL. Yes. Women are very good at masking, and that facade has been ingrained from a young age. It is much more difficult to go back to your core and find out who you really are without all the outside pressures influencing.
AK: What’s your view on the norms that women face in society right now, and how we can fight against them?
NL: It’s bullshit. I’m constantly trying to uncover them and question them. Awareness is the key.
Above: Lee's post about writing, and the importance of being heard.
AK: Maybe we need to start young. Do you encourage your kids to be weird?
NL: Always. My kids are constantly telling me I’m weird and I say, “Thank you, that’s the best compliment ever. It’s great being weird. Who wants to be normal?” I’m always encouraging them to embrace their true selves and if that’s weird, then so be it.
AK: Hallelujah! I can’t wait to see what society’s definition of ‘normal’ is in 10, 20, even 50 years time. I’m hoping the concept barely exists. How do you continually push yourself to be bolder, braver, more creative?
My kids are constantly telling me I’m weird and I say, “Thank you, that’s the best compliment ever."
NL: I don’t, I just go with what comes and feels natural. Whenever I’ve tried to force it or push it, it makes me go the other way.
AK: Social media can be so toxic and a source of such insecurity and comparison, so thank you for always being so honest; and for encouraging women to be their proper weirdest selves.
NL: Thank you for having me!