I loved Madeline. I loved that she lived in Paris, I loved that she had a dog and I loved that she had just the right amount of sass. I loved Madeline so much that I had a little tin lunch box with her big floppy yellow hat, ankle high socks and perfectly blue coat. The lunch box was cobalt blue and the perfect size to hold all of my lunchtime goodies, plus a crinkled note from my mom: "have a great day!"
I used this lunchbox far beyond it's expiration date. The tin had dented on the sides, the blue paint chipped, the inside rusted from spilled peaches and egg salad. I had no longer been reading the books each night or watching the show. I was no longer putting on her yellow hat and dancing around my bedroom. I had become "too old" for Madeline, but the lunchbox stayed with me. It was timeless, everlasting; I thought of it as ironically cool.
[Enter]: Junior High Schoolers. Not only was I the only kid who didn't get a hot lunch, I was also the only kid bringing a "little kid" lunchbox to school. You can guess what happened next....
I don't feel sorry for myself, nor do I blame those kids for finding something so unique to be such an easy target. Rather, I thank them. I thank them for allowing me to find myself in a moment where I was suddenly so afraid of being different. I found myself wanting to trade in anything that made me, me: a tin Madeline lunchbox for a quilted Vera Bradley, a pair of Mary Janes, for a pair of vans.
The Madeline lunchbox is a symbol of my journey. A spunky little redheaded girl, amongst eleven others all dressed the same; she is destined to be different. Madeline, effortlessly a tastemaker and influencer, “Boohoo, we want to have our appendix out, too!” I've been through many a season of changing to fit in, feeling a bit like the ugly duckling. But alas, at my ripe age of 26, I've said "pooh, pooh" to the pressure of fitting in and rediscovered the stride of Ms. Madeline and joyfully embraced all the ways that I am unique.
Since sharing this painting of my cherished lunchbox, I've been overwhelmed by stories of nostalgia, warm childhood memories, and anecdotes of the impact Madeline had on so many of us 90's and 2000's girlies. Turns out there just so happens to be lots of other little Madelines out there.
"Madeline Lunch Box" prints are now available for Pre-Sale on my site!