By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Hair – almost everyone has it, but for most women, hair is more than just something on their head. It is an integral part of their identity. In her latest book, “The Wonder Wig,” local author Shon S. Lewis, also known as Dr. Lewis, explores the significance of Black women’s hair through the hair journey of Brooke Bell.
Brooke Bell, the story’s protagonist, is a young girl with short hair who finds solace and confidence in a blonde wig from her aunt’s salon. The story touches on women’s mental health, inner beauty, healing and alopecia awareness.
The story mirrors Lewis’ own natural hair journey. For most of her life, Lewis used relaxer in her hair, and she couldn’t recall the last time she had seen her natural curly hair. After hearing a celebrity talk about their own hair journey, Lewis felt inspired to go on her own.
She journaled about it and then, took the scissors to her chemically treated locks and chopped them off.
“I want to see what I can do,” she told her husband. “I’ve never seen my hair and I want to take care of it.”
It’s been two years since Lewis began her journey. These days, Lewis’ hair is long and healthy, but the process wasn’t always easy.
Shortly after cutting her hair, the crown of her hair began breaking off. She experienced stress related alopecia and struggled with her self-esteem. To help her understand what was happening, Lewis began researching and talking with hair experts.
She learned to keep her hair moist, donned wigs and wore earrings to help exemplify her femininity.
“I found ways to make myself beautiful,” Lewis said. “[The book] is basically empowering women to feel good about themselves.”
Soon, Lewis noticed that her curls and her kink were coming back.
Throughout her journey, Lewis took photos and noted her progress. The animated images in the book are based on Lewis’ photos. She’s planning to save the actual photos for her second-hair related book, which will detail her research and inspiration.
“The Wonder Wig” isn’t the first time Lewis has written a book about her experiences. In her first book, “Overcoming the See-Saw of Wisdom Against Fear,” Lewis talks about how she overcame the fear she felt to go back to school.
Since that first book, Lewis has gone on to publish several more including “Better Than Coffee,” “The Weapons of the Mind” and many more. For Lewis, writing is a form of therapy.
It helps her process her experiences, while also giving her the opportunity to raise awareness, provide information and motivation and share resources to those in similar situations.
Lewis has always been a writer. Her writing first developed as a child at Golda Meir Elementary. She later worked for the Milwaukee Journal before the publication merged with the Milwaukee Sentinel.
For many years, life prevented Lewis from pursuing her writing career.
“I didn’t get a chance to develop my writing and it was dormant for years,” she said.
While she struggled with her first book, Lewis now has a system.
“Now, all I have to do is focus on the audience I’m trying to reach and the message, and then I begin writing,” she said.
Lewis can now write a book in as little as six months to a year. The trick she said is writing little by little each day.
Lewis’ books, including “The Wonder Wig” are available for purchase wherever books are sold, including Amazon.