When we first came up with the idea of the Naturally Professional series, the goal was to find a few natural haired women who were willing to share their experiences on Afrobella.com and CurlyNikki.com. The intent was to prove that despite what has been said – and unfortunately what is still sometimes believed – women with locs, sisterlocs, and loose natural hair are present in professional industries. The intent is to prove that natural hair IS in fact, professional, well taken care of, and welcome in any kind of workplace.

The response has been overwhelmingly supportive. And so, with great pride we present our first Naturally Professional woman.

Name:Tonya Mosley

Age: 33

Title: Television News Reporter

Tell me about your natural journey. How long have you been natural? What led you to wear your hair in a natural style?

Two years ago I began noticing how fascinated my 2 year old daughter had become with my long straight hair. At the time I was having frequent conversations with her about how beautiful her natural curls were. This whole “dance” felt wrong, painful even – so in September of 2009 after receiving a blessing from my bosses I chopped off my relaxed hair.

Have you ever faced any undue scrutiny and/or adversity in your career because of wearing their hair natural?

I live and work in a city (Seattle) where my natural hairstyle is embraced and accepted.

I don’t believe I’ve received push back although recently I had an agent mention that my hair may not fly in other places.

Do you think there is an issue today with acceptance overall in the corporate workforce for women who choose to wear natural hair?

I’m not sure. I do believe there is a lot of ignorance about our hair, how it grows and what it really looks and feels like in its natural state. We as a community of black women still struggle with loving and accepting our natural hair so I think it would only be natural that corporate America might take issue with it.

Are there any particular natural hairstyles they feel are no-no’s for the workforce or a particular style that is “safer” or more accepted than others, based on your experiences?

I think many of us get confused about natural hair and professionalism. If you’re working in corporate America a Mohawk – whether relaxed or natural is probably not a good idea.

In my profession I don’t want my hair to be a distraction, it should complement my look not overtake it. I’ve only been natural for a year and half, as it grows I’m learning what works and what doesn’t.

How do you or have you handled any questions or issues you’ve faced regarding your hair?

Initially after getting the “big chop” I expected to get a lot of questions or confusion about my hair but I haven’t. I do however receive lots of compliments and emails! My hair has become my signature in many ways – the other day I had a woman stop traffic during a live shot to tell me how much of an inspiration I’ve been to her. I’ve had mothers tell me they record my stories for their children to watch. These messages are powerful to me, I’m reminded of when I was little and we’d crowd around the TV to watch the Cosby show – people are thirsty to see a reflection of themselves on screen and I’m humbled and honored to be a part of offering that.

There is always discussion and sometimes concern about wearing your hair natural and working, as well as succeeding, in the corporate workforce. What strategies can you offer other women who wear their hair natural on handling issues they may face in the workplace regarding their hair choice?

I’ve been hearing the word “authentic” a lot lately. I guess it’s another way of saying “keeping it real.” The broadcast journalism world is extremely competitive and now more than ever news bosses are looking for people who are authentic, different – someone who isn’t a carbon copy of everyone else.

As a leader what insight can you offer women in general, natural or not, on succeeding as African American women? What are the top 3 tips to success you can offer?

Never leave work early, people notice.

How far you go in your career depends on how hard you are willing to work.

But also note working harder is not always enough, you also have to work smarter.

In addition to being a hardworking TV reporter, Tonya also has a natural hair blog –check her out at New Naturalista, and follow her on Facebook!

Thanks for sharing your story, Tonya!

Are you Naturally Professional? Do you know someone who fits the description? Then please send an e mail to bella@afrobella.com or to nikki@curlynikki.com using “Naturally Professional,”as the subject line. Please include the nominee’s name, photos, and a reliable email address.



Jaime says:
May 10, 2011, 10:34 am
I lived in Seattle from 2008 until last August. I remember seeing Tonya on the news and following her hair story and I remember thinking how great it was that she is able to showcase natural hair on tv. Especially in such a "traditional" venue as the new. And her hair has grown so much in just a year and a half! I love it! Such an inspiration.
ria says:
May 10, 2011, 11:37 am
Thank you for this series and for showing that natural hair is professional.
Dawn Yerger, Nappturalite Radio says:
May 10, 2011, 3:24 pm
Loved it! Shout to Tonya, whose blog, New Naturalista, is one of our Nappturalite Radio Syndication Partners. And, shout to Afrobella and Curly Nikki for putting this series together! We mentioned it during our Hairsay Segment on 4/24/11 - http://bit.ly/lYGxvU.
Dawn Yerger, Nappturalite Radio says:
May 10, 2011, 3:26 pm
Sorry, wrong link to the Naturally Professional shout out on Nappturalite Radio! Here's the correct one - http://bit.ly/fRLVzN.
Anastasia says:
May 11, 2011, 12:33 am
Thank you Afrobella for tackling this issue. I recently graduated from college and I must admit I was a little afraid of how my natural hair would be received in the professional world. Already this series has served to be an inspiration to me. I will be sharing the link with all my friends and I look forward to reading up on more Naturally Professional women! Ciao
Tracy Dawes says:
May 12, 2011, 4:14 pm
As a natural woman myself I've had a few conversations at work with those who thought my hair wasn't professional enough. I am no longer offended by these comments; I just seek to educate. Kudos to you on the series. Education goes a long way.
Mel says:
May 13, 2011, 9:43 pm
I know this is completely off topic and I hope it gets answered (PLEASE!) but I'll be travelling to the Middle East for work and will be in the dessert for the majority of 3 months. I was wondering if there were any conditioners or products that would be great in hot dry weather (college student budget). Would braids for the first 2 months be a bad idea?
Kema says:
May 16, 2011, 3:38 pm
natural hair is so beautiful...:)..i have dreads..Wal marts Giving Back After Laying Off Over 35,000 People.. $1,400 Gift card - I Grab 3 of Them..Lmao http://goo.gl/g4zvo
Onna says:
May 17, 2011, 11:51 pm
I remember trying to apply to little part time jobs last summer. I was applying at little stores and in person. Well my mom was like, maybe you didn't get hired because of your hair. Totally upset me for a while. I've never had a job at 19, so I have nothing to base this on. And I'm transitioning to natural hair, so I usually wear a twist out. I'm really glad to see this online. Because sometimes, even though I try not to think like this, it seems like no matter what, as a black girl, I'm losing in one way or another. :/ Constantly trying to make others feel "calm and ok" about my natural hair when they don't judge any other hair type. It's like a hair tango that never lets up. How can my natural hair be offensive if it's mine? Using chemicals and heat tongs to get a look to make others comfy is a mess. A mess that I know loads of us have been through. I hope with this series, it can help others see the light.
Futuralon says:
June 2, 2011, 10:17 pm
She looks great :)
Jay says:
July 22, 2011, 2:19 pm
Wow! that's really great, Fresh out of college I had an interview and absolutely obsessed over whether I should leave my TWA out or cover it up(I left it out). Now i'm about to relocate to Seattle, its great to know that I wont have to worry about as much.
Cordoba says:
August 4, 2011, 6:41 am
It is a delight to view Tonya Mosley reporting the news wearing her hair in its natural state. While the depth psychological study (rearch) on African American women who wear their hair in its natural state titled "Autonomous Psyche: The Complexity of Psychological Life" presented by Pacifica Graduate Institute is an important learning tool, it is extraordinary to view vital that more African American women in professional positions confident and happy with


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