Eighteen years ago, while a sophmore in high school, I decided to cut the perm I wore for the past 5 years, and return to my natural. It wasn’t a very difficult decision but I must admit it was a bit scary. I must now face my thick, curly, tangly hair and actually have to do more than just put in a ponytail. I really wore my hair back in a ponytail throughout most of the 5 years.
Amidst the thoughts that were running through my mind, was a feeling of liberation. I no longer had to sit waiting in a salon to chemically alter my hair (that should be the biggest deciding factor when considering a perm – the health risks). No more running through the rain to avoid getting my hair wet. I wouldn’t have to wake up extra early to “tame the main” with a hot comb. My hair is EXTRA thick. Most importantly, I would be able to run my fingers through MY HAIR. MY NATURAL HAIR. The hair I was born with. That thought alone was freeing!
Before hand, I understood that going “natural” has a bigger impact that just a change of hair. It is an entire transformation. It makes a statement. At least for me it was. When I see women in their natural state, I see strength. One that doesn’t feel it necessary to conform to societies view of what is considered “acceptable” or normal is in fact a leader and a leader exemplifies strength.
For this blog I interviewed Tonya Mosley, TV & magazine journalist with more than 15 years experience. Tonya decided to go natural 3 years ago, while working as a television reporter for KING 5 News in Seattle. She is also the creator of NewNaturalista.com – a popular online resource for all things natural. I was curious about her experience of being a media professional while transitioning to her natural.
What inspired you to go natural?
My decision to “go natural” was a progression. The seeds were first planted in my head by a news photographer in 2005. We were returning from a news story and I needed to stop by a beauty supply store to purchase a relaxer. (I had just moved to Seattle and hadn’t found a hair stylist yet.) When I returned to the car with a relaxer box, my photographer (who is white) wanted to know what it was. When I explained it to him he flipped. “You mean to tell me you put chemicals on your hair to make it straight?” He suggested I “wear it curly” as he put it – he brought it up for years. In 2009, my then 2 year old daughter would often sit in the bathroom and watch me primp. I was keenly aware that she sat there in awe with a mop of curly hair, and here I was straightening my hair. In what felt like a spontaneous moment, I took scissors one day and cut off all my hair. Looking back I see it wasn’t an impulse decision.
What did your daughter think about it?
She embraces it because she really knows no different. She was 2 when I went natural. My hair is a part of me just as her curly/kinky hair is a part of her. I do get it flat ironed from time to time to get my ends clipped, and she always has lots of opinions about it like, “WHY?” 🙂
How long after being a reporter did you decide to make the transition to natural?
I decided to go natural in 2009. At the time I’d been in the television news business for 9 years.
Were you feel at all nervous about the transition being a reporter?
A few weeks before the impulse big chop, I had a casual conversation with my boss about black women using relaxers to straighten their hair. He said, “Well, I wouldn’t want you to do something that is unhealthy for you!” I think I was more nervous about having super short hair – it really exposes your face! I loved the time when my hair was short though, it was a liberating time.
Did you hear about Rhonda Lee being fired from ABC for responding to comments about her natural hair? http://sportyafros.com/hair/rhonda-lee-fired-her-responding-to-comments-about-her-natural-hair/ What are your thoughts about it and what words of encouragement would you give her?
I am acquaintances with Rhonda Lee, she wrote a story about her struggles with her natural hair for my web magazine http://newnaturalista.com/2011/headline/cloudy-with-a-chance-of-kinky/ a few years ago. We also collaborated on a National Association of Black Journalists Conference panel proposal. I feel terribly sorry that Lee lost her job, she is a fine meteorologist. It’s a difficult thing to get emails and Facebook messages about your appearance – but unfortunately in the news business we all get them. Viewers often feel they can say anything about you – your weight, your makeup, your outfits, your hair color – your hair style. So many people are ignorant about natural hair. Rhonda was trying to educate the commenter but unfortunately her response was in violation of her news station’s policy.
Even though we’ve grown by leaps and bounds in this country, wearing natural hair is still making a statement. However, many people of other cultures aren’t sure what that statement is. They’ve associated natural hair with the militant movement of the 1970’s and in many cases they aren’t aware of what we do to our hair. In many cases wearing natural hair says that the wearer is not conforming to the traditional standards of beauty. For me, my hair says that I am comfortable in my skin.
What advice would you say to women who fear going natural? Whether for maintenance reasons or fear of being judged by their peers and co-workers.
I think getting to a place of self acceptance is the key. I didn’t have fears about what others would think. My experience has been overwhelmingly positive. My coworkers all had great things to say, I only ever got one email from a man who called my hair wild, but I always chose to focus on the weekly emails I received from viewers of all races complimenting me on my hair.
Finish the sentence…
I feel empowered when…I do what my heart, mind and should leads me.
I am passionate about…philanthropy, uplifting young people and exposing injustice.
My biggest blessing is…my beautiful family.
Natural beauty is…what we’re all born with.
Being natural feels…awesome.
Tonya Mosley Bio
Tonya Mosley is an award winning journalist, producer and entrepreneur. She has a passion for using the power of her voice to uncover, inspire, enlighten and educate.
For 7 years Tonya reported for KING 5 News (NBC) in Seattle – telling the stories of extraordinary people and circumstances. Tonya is also the creator of NewNaturalista.com – a popular online resource for all things natural.
Philanthropy, community engagement and living well are her greatest passions.
Tonya is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Fashion Marketing/Business from Parsons School of Design in New York City.