H40 Naturals Celebrates The Natural Hair Of Women Over 40 With A Super Positive Facebook Group And Website
At a time in which Facebook has been slammed for everything from abetting political interference to making its users lonely and depressed, Traci Nichole’s H40 Naturals offers a glimmer of hope for the beleaguered social media platform.
The full-time radiation oncology technician at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, Md., has drawn nearly 25,000 members to a Facebook group dedicated to black women who celebrate and learn about natural hair through selfies, photos of friends and family members, product questions and reviews, and supportive messages.
The group is an outgrowth of a website targeting online crowds over 40-years-old that Nichole started in January 2016 after she ended a relationship with chemical relaxers that spanned three decades. She believes extended use of relaxers led to thyroid problems and a hysterectomy at 39.
“As I got older, I noticed my hair was thinning, and it wouldn’t grow to a certain length,” says 46-year-old Nichole. “I started seeing a lot of women with these beautiful, thick fros, and I’m liking it. I wonder what my hair would do.” Women began to flock to her for advice via Facebook, prompting her to more widely share her experience and the experiences of others transitioning to natural hair and maintaining it.
The H40 Naturals Facebook group’s upbeat attitude and focus on mature women has helped it catch on. “Younger women don’t always have the challenges we have in order to maintain healthy hair,” says Charita Goines Severe, member of the group. “Medical conditions, medications, age and other things all play a role in the integrity of our hair.”
Members aren’t afraid to dole out friendly suggestions. It isn’t uncommon for them to post about the brand Shea Moisture or DIY haircare remedies with natural ingredients like bentonite clay.
The difference between the H40 Naturals Facebook group and some groups is H40 Naturals strictly enforces civility rules. Upon requesting to join the group, potential members are informed that promotions can only be posted on Wednesdays, heated comments or threads may be deleted, and shaming a fellow member, especially with unpleasant comments directed at children, will result in expulsion.
“As adults, we don’t have to always agree, but we should always keep it positive and respectful,” says Yumica Thompson, a moderator of the H40 Naturals Facebook group. “In order to learn and teach, we first need to know boundaries. I love posting pics, and learning from the queens and kings in this group. Without the group rules, this page would be unruly and, after a long day, I want to be where love and light is, even when it’s about hair and hair health.”
Audrey Warfield, a member of the Facebook group, feels H40 Naturals provides a safe haven. “I never feel stupid asking a question or bashed because my hair pics aren’t YouTube-caliber,” she says. “We cheer each other’s progress, commiserate and support when we fail, learn about new products and techniques to help get and keep healthy, happy hair. I think the natural hair movement is here to stay, if for no other reason that it celebrates the diversity of [the] U.S. as a group.”
Nichole aspires to be at the forefront of the movement broadening society’s definition of beauty with the H40 Naturals Facebook group and its associated website. She envisions the site as a one-stop shop for natural hair products and resources. Nichole pays for it, but doesn’t earn money on it and emphasizes that it’s mostly informative. However, she does feature a small selection of branded goods, including pens, hats and tote bags.
“I don’t care how big my Facebook group is, I always want to be in the group,” says Nichole, adding, “I want a full-fledged website that people can go to and find all the information they need about natural hair and natural products with links to everything they need.”