(Image credit: Frank Ploenissen as archived by Sarah's Place for Long Hair)
My hair is long today for several reasons, one of which is the work of Frank Ploenissen (Frank Plönißen in German), an early social media pioneer who reserved The Long Hair Site domain (TLHS.org) on December 10, 1995, and closed it as an active domain on January 6, 2007, home page image shown here. Fans have called him the father of all long hair sites on the Internet. His site featured pictures and written interviews from female contributors worldwide who had gorgeous long hair, often waist length or longer. I and many others appreciated that the site's photos were always appropriate and fairly modest. In its early days, the site was unlike anything else on the web, and though many other long hair sites have since emerged, none that I have found equal TLHS.org, partly because of the community of contributors TLHS.org had attracted. In addition to the social elements of the "Week's Lady" and message board, Frank also compiled a glossary of advice for the care and cleaning of long hair with outstanding information that I still rely upon today. Even more than practical advice, it was the inspiration Frank offered that made me excited about transitioning to a long, natural hairstyle and away from the perming and short cuts that dominated late 1980s and early 1990s styles. I will try to provide a sketch of the site to the best of my memory.
Frank Ploenissen is German and has a perfect mastery of the English language, which allowed him to maintain TLHS in English for a worldwide audience. He has worked as an electrical engineer and for Next System as a computer specialist with touch screen displays. In his free time, he enjoys photography, inline skating and gardening with his family. He said he loved long hair on women simply because he was a man, and his interest in long hair for girls began in his childhood. Frank said he does not like long hair on men, a distinction that made female visitors to his site admire his work all the more. One blogger who had requested to use some of his material published his response that touched on his goal for the site, ". . . Providing you keep the intention of TLHS intact--to promote the beauty of long hair and not to encourage a cut."
Some readers may find this strange, but I was actually inspired by the fact that Frank gave no other reason that he loved long hair on women except that he was a man. All my life, I had heard teaching about why long hair is a good choice for women, such as to signify distinction between the genders and to follow Biblical references such as "if a woman have long hair, it is her glory . . ." (I Corinthians 11:15 NET Bible). Now, here was a man saying that he was attracted to long hair on women just because he was a man! It was refreshing to hear this from him and became a real inspiration to me that if I switched to a longer hairstyle, it would be more than just an exercise in following abstract teaching. Males in my life might actually find it attractive. Most women struggle with their hairstyles and don't even like their hair. Frank encouraged women to feel good about long hairstyles because the length itself offered beauty. That's not something that I as a woman would have known beyond any doubt, but it does fall in line with many instances of Biblical teaching being supported by observable psychology. (The question of headcoverings for women is another topic that relates to male attraction to long hair on females, and I respect the decision of many Jewish and Muslim women to cover their hair in public.)
Frank used the analogy of silk to refer to long hair and said that if we weren't treating our hair as carefully as silk that we should start now. His recommendation for washing long hair was to use a small amount of shampoo rubbed in with fingertips at the scalp, allowing running water from the shower to do most of the cleansing. He warned that scrubbing long hair damages it by causing tangling which must then be combed out. The THLS form for interviews from the "Week's Lady" included a question about long hair care that received a wide range of responses.
Several long hair styling ideas Frank featured on his site included the use of hair sticks to hold twists in place. This idea was further explained to me by a long hair expert I found in Dallas, Texas, Jim Butchee of the Long Hair Studio. Jim had several other jewels of advice, including the following:
I would add, to Frank's and Jim's advice, that small hot rollers are even better than Hot Sticks because they are made from harder plastic and slip off the hair more easily. I still use Hot Sticks when traveling, though, because they do not require extra clips to stay in. I also prefer mini butterfly hair clips to keep my hair out of my face rather than hair sticks to secure twists, however if my hair were longer than the mid-back level at which I keep it or if it were thicker, then I would probably use hair sticks more often.
While ultra long hair, championed by people like Frank, is the prettiest accessory most females could ever find, some may not be able to keep their hair long for medical or other reasons, and no one should harbor guilt about that. I had a friend who at age 24 cut her waist-level hair to about two inches in length to prepare for chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma. The way she styled her short hair for the few months before it completely fell out was cute enough to relieve many of her friends that her necessary transition from long hair to no hair was cushioned by an acceptable in-between style. She survived treatment, and her hair is long again today. Another of my friends suffers from headaches when her thick hair is very long. Hats, headbands or anything that places the slightest pressure on her head also bring on headaches. She has found that a length of four to five inches past her shoulders still allows a variety of long hair styling options while also serving her medical needs. A five-year-old relative of mine doesn't seem to mind her long hair getting in her face when she plays (she dislikes elastic bands and barrettes), but a length beyond mid-back results in tangling and tears during combing sessions. Mid-back is still long for her size, and this little girl may be able to wear an even longer length as she grows older and has more patience with detangling.
A host of fans would love to see The Long Hair Site revived. Frank posted in late 2006 that he planned to close the site because he no longer had time to devote to maintaining it. When originally writing this tribute, I sent emails to published addresses for Frank and was delighted to receive a personal response. I had asked if he would be interested in allowing me to help revive the site. He responded that while he does not intend to allow someone else to manage the TLHS domain, he may have more time in the future to consider reopening the site himself. If you are one of the ladies who would love to see his site return, please comment here to show your support for a reopening of TLHS. I also responded to Frank that if he would like to host any of his content here at Fashion Belle, especially the long hair care tips, I would be happy to give his content a special section for the benefit of ladies around the world with long hair.